The National Platform defines and prioritises research needs that feed into UK and EU strategic research agendas.
The UK Strategic Research Agenda marks the beginning of a process that aims to significantly increase the level of strategic, collaborative research being undertaken in the built environment sector.
In 2006, the National Platform undertook a poll of members and stakeholders and identified their rankings of broad topic areas from the European Strategic Research Agenda (SRA). This poll identified three key areas as high priority for the UK, namely:
- reduced resource consumption
- a client driven, knowledge based construction process
- ICT and automation.
Subsequent projects in 2011 and 2012 have identified UK Research Priorities Report November 2011 and National Platform Survey Outcomes, September 2012.
Since then and a subsequent stakeholder survey, the industry has started to seriously tackle some of these issues. And in June 2013, the government published its Industrial Strategy: government and industry in partnership – Construction 2025, which set out the following targets:
- 33% reduction in both initial cost of construction and whole life cost of assets
- 50% reduction in overall time from inception to completion for new build and refurbished assets
- 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment
- 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products and materials.
Innovate UK (formerly the Technology Strategy Board), the UK’s Innovation Agency focuses its Low Impact Buildings Innovation Platform carries out a variety of programmes and tools designed to accelerate innovation to improve sustainability in the built environment.
The Green Construction Board (GCB) was established in October 2011 as a consultative forum for government and the UK design, construction, property and infrastructure industry. It was established to ensure a sustained high-level conversation and to develop and implement a long-term strategic framework for the promotion of innovation and sustainable growth in this sector. In the shorter term, its key priority is to provide improved focus, direction and clarity to the business and growth opportunities which are being created by the shift to a green economy.
The complexity of the built environment offers a wide range of research and innovation challenges and therefore relevant research comes from a wide variety of sources including
- Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
- Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
- Economic & Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC)
- Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
The Gateway to Research provides a searchable database of all the UK publicly funded research. Over 200 Research Council funded projects related directly to the challenges of the UK built environment.
Centres for Doctoral Training
Centres for Doctoral Training bring together diverse areas of expertise to train engineers and scientists with the skills and knowledge to tackle future challenges. 25 such centres our relevant to the challenges facing the built environment.
- Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Composites for Innovation and Science, University of Bristol
- Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrated Tribology, University of Sheffield
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in BioEnergy, University of Leeds
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Carbon Capture and Storage and Cleaner Fossil Energy, University of Nottingham
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Cloud Computing for Big Data, Newcastle University
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Demand (LoLo), University College London
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Storage and its Applications, University of Sheffield
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Engineering for the Water Sector (STREAM IDC), Cranfield University
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fuel Cells and their Fuels – Clean Power for the 21st Century, University of Birmingham
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Functional Materials: The BCFN, University of Bristol
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and the Built Environment,University of Cambridge
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Integrative Sensing and Measurement, University of Glasgow
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in My Life in Data, University of Nottingham
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in New and Sustainable PV, University of Liverpool
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Plastic Electronics Materials, Imperial College London
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Power Networks at the University of Manchester
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantification and Management of Risk and Uncertainty in Complex Systems & Environments, University of Liverpool
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Quantitative NDE, Imperial College London
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Infrastructure Systems, University of Southampton
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in the Mathematics of Planet Earth, Imperial College London & University of Reading
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Urban Science & Progress, University of Warwick
- EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Water Informatics: Science & Engineering (WISE), University of Exeter
- ESPRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Materials for Demanding Environments, The University of Manchester
- The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Fluid Dynamics Across Scales, Imperial College London
- The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Civil Infrastructure, Imperial College London
• The UK has a strong university research base. The Witty Review of 2013 reviews the capacity of this sector to support innovation and research to stimulate economic growth.
• AIRTO is the Association for Independent Research and Technology Organisations represents organisations operating in the UK’s intermediate research and technology sector.