Flood Resilience – Research

Wellies in the water

BRE experts have undertaken numerous research activities in recent years which has fed into further research as well as the design and implementation of the Flood Resilient Repair demonstration home. Research includes the development of tools to aid the promotion of property level resilience, development of codes of practice, and investigating community-level resilience. Some of the key activities undertaken or still in progress include.

Practical demonstration in Cumbria

The Cumbria Flood Resilience Showcase Project is implementing the type of resilience measures featured in the demonstration house in two properties – a community centre and a converted barn – both of which were seriously damaged during Storm Desmond (2015).

BRE’s digital tool, the Property Flood Resilience database, is being used to record and understand measures already implemented, and measures that can be included to increase resilience, in three sections:

  • Resistance – involving all possible entry points (e.g. doors and windows).
  • Resilience – recovery aids such as wall and floor finishings.
  • Community – Barriers, SuDS (Sustainable urban drainage) and local flood wardens.

The tool enables two scores to be produced, one giving a current, overall resilience score for the property, and one that shows what it could be once suggested measures have been implemented. The tool is aimed to be used by surveyors or any professional evaluating the properties.



Development of Standards

There have been some existing standards for the resistance element of flood resilience, as this is easier to quantify – for example, the British Standards Institute (BSI) has created test standards, and there are PAS standards for aperture products such as doorways, windows and airbricks.

But there haven’t been any standards for the recoverability aspect of resilience, because of the extensive range of elements that it encompasses. BRE has been working on a recoverability standard that is now going through internal reviews. Further to this, a methodology for scoring resilience has also been developed by BRE alongside industry partners. That is based on many of the findings from the Flood Resilient Repair House, and from working with other stakeholders in this sector.

Producing a Code of Practice

The flooding roundtable is continuing to operate a number of projects in this area, one of which (led by CIRIA) is developing a code of practice for making homes and buildings flood resilient. The authoring team for this project comprises BRE, the University West of England, White House Construction and the Environment Agency. There is also wide-ranging industry involvement, representing the whole of the UK, as part of the project steering group. The government has committed to supporting the code of practice in its 25 year Environment Plan.

The code covers the whole process and the skills required to do each stage of the process – from conducting a property hazard assessment, surveying the building and designing suitable measures, to having those measures installed, commissioning and handing over to the occupant/client, and then ongoing operation and maintenance. Elements of this sort of guidance has been available in the past, but never as a whole consistent and coherent process.

The code includes standards that define exactly what should be done with the key requirements, and a guidance section that has processes for each stage – following these ensures the standards’ requirements are met.

It comprises a primary document and two supplementary documents. The primary document is aimed mainly at the professionals involved, such as surveyors, contractors, hazard assessors, consultant, etc. The supplementary documents are aimed at the general public, particularly home owners, and local authorities and planners. They are due to be issued for public consultation shortly, with publication of the final versions due for publication around December 2019.



Flooded road with signbusiness workshop



Wellies in the water

Training and certification

Following the Flood House project, BRE and the BRE Academy have developed a series of flood resilience training resources, both on-line and classroom based. They include a range of short courses and webinars, along with a detailed 12-hour Property Flood Resilience Surveyors’ course. After completing the surveyors’ training course and meeting certain requirements, participants also have the option of going on to be certificated under a BRE Global certification scheme.

The resilience surveyors’ training programme and certification scheme, along with a series of six flood resilience webinars, were launched at the BRE hosted Flood Resilience Summit at the Innovation Park in February 2018.

Sustainable Drainage

While it is highly desirable to keep flood water out of a building, in an urban environment this can potentially divert water to where it will be a problem elsewhere. As well as flood resilience in individual buildings therefore, BRE is looking at aspects of community resilience. The use of sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), for example, is being investigated with BRE Innovation Park partners who are trialling the use of permeable paving at various points around the site.


sustainable urban drainage system


London and the river thames

Opportunities in High Demand Areas

BRE has been working for the Greater London Authority on elements of flood resilience planning. The GLA has tied flood risk, green infrastructure – e.g. SuDS and green and blue roofs – and water use together as part of the London Plan.

While not able to make these measures compulsory (there isn’t yet sufficient research evidence to enforce them through the building regulations), in urban areas like London – and other UK cities – where there is high building demand, initiatives such as the London Plan can take the opportunity to raise building quality by pressing for buildings plans that, for example, include flood defence measures.

Wider Use

When it comes to taking these flood resilience approaches to areas of large-scale flooding abroad, there are challenges with the different building practices and standards, etc. But there has been some interest from countries – such as Malaysia – where flooding from tropical storms, severe monsoons, etc. are a relatively common occurrence.