Belgian Building Research Institute (BBRI)
Head office: Rue du Lombard 42 – 1000 Brussel, Belgium
The Belgian Building Research Institute is a private research institute founded in 1960 at the instigation of the National Federation of Belgian Building Contractors in application of the so-called "De Groote" Federal decree-law of 1947. Specifically, this decree-law, named after the post-war Belgian Minister of Economic Affairs, aimed at promoting applied research in industry in order to improve its competitiveness. At the time, it represented an innovative approach to promoting technology development in a rather traditional sector. In application of this law, the statutory contributing members of the BBRI are the more than 80,000 Belgian construction companies (general contractors, carpenters, glaziers, plumbers, roofers, floorers, plasterers, painters, etc.), most of which are small or medium-sized enterprises. According to its statutes, BBRI has the following three main missions:
Research at the BBRI is concentrated on practical work yielding results in the short term which can be applied readily by the members. The field of research activities is quite broad, and in fact touches upon all essential requirements for building work, i.e. mechanical resistance and stability, health and environment, safety in use, acoustics, energy economy and heat retention. Expertise is grouped in different research departments, divisions and laboratories covering aspects such as structural design, soil mechanics, execution techniques, construction materials, façade technology, environmental issues, renovation, recycling, technical equipment, automation, building physics, lighting, heating, internal climate, building chemistry and information and communication technologies. Research programmes at the BBRI are in general initiated and monitored by technical committees bringing together all the relevant stakeholders, i.e. contractors, material producers, authorities, designers, architects, consultants, universities, etc. Where necessary, research alliances are set up nationally and internationally with universities and other research centres. Besides the statutory membership fees, incomings are generated amongst others by research projects funded by the European Commission, the Federal Ministry, and the Communities and Regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels). Results are published in technical guidance notes which are considered as high quality reference documents for Belgian construction practice.
Collaboration and networking is key in the present open approach to innovation. The BBRI is therefore a member of numerous European networks. In particular, it was a founding member and currently runs the executive secretariats of the European Network of Building Research Institutes – ENBRI (http://www.enbri.org) and the European Council for Construction Research, Development and Innovation – ECCREDI (http://www.eccredi.org). The ENBRI network provides full coverage of topics for construction and the built environment and continuously updates international knowledge and experience for the construction sector. The European organisations participating in ECCREDI in fact represent the principal interests within construction: contractors, engineering, consultants, architects and designers, product and material producers, social housing providers and research bodies. Through its participation in this network, BBRI seeks to help build “a sustainable and knowledge-based European construction sector, which is competitive, innovative and market-driven and meets users’ needs and those of society by providing the best living and working conditions for all people”.
The BBRI is currently involved in quite a number of European projects, including the following:
Information and technology transfer is a core activity of the BBRI. Over 450 conferences, seminars, workshops and training sessions on specific topics are organised each year. Winter courses allow practitioners to invest in permanent professional education. Problem-solving advice and technical assistance to building contractors are provided by a dedicated team of specialists who deal with over 40,000 technical queries each year and are on standby to deliver their expert view by phone/fax or during on-site visits and in dedicated reports. As well as being much appreciated by members, this service is also an effective means of pinpointing research needs.