Bath lab puts timber and hemp-lime to the test

Timber walling and hemp-lime panels are among the build systems being put to the test at the University of Bath’s new HIVE construction test facility, which has opened at its Building Research Park in Swindon.

Research planned at the park will analyse the environmental impact of construction materials, including their energy efficiency, flood resilience, structural capability and internal air quality.

Projects already in progress include:

  • Testing the thermal and acoustic performance of double skin facades, along with the performance of different window types and acoustic ventilators with Mach Acoustics to help increase use of low impact natural ventilation
  • Testing fabricated, pre-dried, hemp-lime panels in open air buildings – contrasting thermal performance with wood fibre, mineral wool and other materials – part of the EU-funded HEMPSEC project
  • Understanding how effective wall panels are at addressing poor air quality, for instance by absorbing volatile organic compounds and other pollutants with EU-funded ECOSEE project
  • Testing the flood resilience and structural integrity of timber walls.

The £1m HIVE building comprises eight individual cells, each with a single face left exposed to the external environment. The faces are used to install walls made from a range of materials and construction systems, and the performance of these walls is evaluated in real life conditions.

The facility is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

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