BRE – the UK’s best kept sustainable secret

Sian Younisby Sian Younis (guest post), , 0 Comments

After a recent inspirational visit to the BRE Innovation Park in Watford, UK, I thought that the PV industry would welcome a little explanation about who the BRE are and what they do.

First a little history lesson

The Building Research Establishment (BRE) first launched in the UK as the Building Research Station in 1917, an initiative by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). Their aim was to investigate various building materials and methods of construction suitable to use in new housing following the First World War. In 1972 they became known as the Building Research Establishment. In 1997, the work of BRE had extended beyond just buildings and were no longer a Government Establishment, they then became a private company and are now known as simply ‘BRE’.

So, what do the BRE do?

BRE helps government, industry and business to meet the challenges of the built environment. With the current need to combat climate change plus the economic and social issues that the building industry face today, the BRE offer expert, impartial research, knowledge and advice for the building sector and beyond.

The Sigma Home, BRE Innovation Park, Watford

The Sigma Home, BRE Innovation Park, Watford

The BRE Innovation Park

Available for visits by both organisations and individuals who wish to learn about the latest innovative technologies, the BRE Innovation Park is a world leading and ground breaking demonstration development designed to offer a glimpse of how the future delivery of sustainable buildings and communities can be achieved not only in the UK but around the world.

Over 400 different construction innovations

The park comprises eight of the world’s most sustainable houses, a health centre for the future and over 400 different construction innovations and emerging technologies.
Collectively these projects demonstrate diverse and innovative approaches to sustainable design and construction each sharing the common goal of having a low impact on the environment but a high impact on the quality of life of building and community occupants plus the all important C02 emissions reduction.

The Sigma Home

The Sigma Home has been selected by Rexel Energy Solutions to showcase the latest technological advances in sustainable and energy-efficient products and building methods.
The home is made up of two separate dwellings, one unfurnished, which provides technical detail on the products displayed within the home and also one furnished, which shows products working in situ, to demonstrate how they perform as a live example.
The Sigma Home, which has recently boasted a complete refurbishment, has actually been lived in by a family to obtain a real perspective on living in a home constructed for sustainability.


Inside the Sigma Home - seeing an SMA Sunny Boy in action

Inside the Sigma Home - seeing an SMA Sunny Boy in action

 … and SMA Sunny Boys make an appearance

There are two PV systems installed into the Sigma Home, one using ZN Shine panels and the other, Sanyo, both systems we are proud to say are supported by SMA Sunny Boy inverters. SMA have the use of one of the rooms within the unfurnished part of the Sigma House, here you can discover the SMA story, what an inverter does, the key features of SMA Sunny Boy inverters and actually see them in action.

Why not arrange a visit to the BRE?

The Innovation Park offers visitor viewings and guided tours. To arrange a tour or book your visit email

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