Active Buildings: The Future of Construction

Guest blogger Emily Sotudeh from Innovate UK explores Active Buildings, a project leading innovation in the built environment. Along with funding from Innovate UK, the CPA's Chief Executive, Dr Diana Montgomery, sits on the board of the project.

The way we build is changing. As needs and sustainability targets shift, construction needs to keep up with the growing needs of the UK.

40% of all of the UK’s energy output comes from the consumption of buildings. We need to find new ways to make buildings in the UK more energy efficient.

That’s where active buildings come in.

Find out how a new Active Building Centre is set to drive innovation and increase efficiency in the construction sector.

Active Buildings: A Greener Solution

So, what’s the definition of an active building?

An active building (sometimes referred to as an energy positive building) is one that generates and stores its own electricity. Drawing energy from solar power, batteries store and release energy to make buildings entirely self-sufficient.

This clearly has a huge, positive impact on the environment, as well as increasing the efficiency of the building.

A Case Study: Swansea University’s Energy Positive Classroom

As part of a project driven by the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, Swansea University have achieved the title of having the first energy positive classroom in the UK!

The building makes use of solar technology via photovoltaic cells built into the steel roof. These are connected to batteries with the capacity to supply the building with power for several days. Electrically heated floor coating and steel cladding retain energy for longer, increasing the building’s green credentials.

The leaders of this project received the Project of the Year award from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Wales for the ingenious use of technology and contribution to construction.  

Further Research Into Active Buildings

Following the success of this project, a new active building centre is being established in order to drive research in the field of active construction.

Funding of up to £39 million is being provided by Innovate UK, among others, to launch the centre based at the Swansea University campus.

In collaboration with ten UK Universities and diverse stakeholders in the fields of supply chain management, construction and energy, this project aims to scale up this technology to become commercially viable on a large scale.

Research will include looking at the ways people interact with these active buildings, how to develop efficient supply chain processes and how to inform policy making decisions.

Part of the role of the centre is to develop a practical toolkit for building professionals to increase awareness and knowledge around these new technologies.

The goal is to eventually build 300 structures throughout the UK showcasing this active technology.

Innovate UK: Funding Construction

Innovate UK have helped to fund this project, and many others like it. This is part of the Transforming Construction Challenge, the government initiative to inject research and funding into the UK construction industry.

Businesses and groups are being tasked with the challenge of finding new solutions and innovations to improve digital manufacturing processes and make sustainable construction more economically viable. Grants are being offered to successful applicants.

To see more projects transforming the future of the UK and beyond, subscribe to the Innovate UK YouTube channel here.

By Emily Sotudeh, Innovate UK at 29 Mar 2019, 14:50 PM


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