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Active Building Centre (ABC) calls for built environment to lift its ambition and urgency to exceed #netzero requirements to become climate positive

ABC was setup as part of the Government’s Transforming Construction Challenge(TCC) in 2019. Since then we have worked on over 100 + projects with the aim to help transform the built environment and to accelerate decarbonisation. The work we have done has given us great insights into what needs to be done if we are to realistically decarbonise the built environment.  Last month we…

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Active Building Centre (ABC) calls for built environment to lift its ambition and urgency to exceed #netzero requirements to become climate positive Active Building Centre (ABC) calls for built environment to lift its ambition and urgency to exceed #netzero requirements to become climate positive

The 3 Cs: A new framework for getting buildings right

It is widely understood that there are certain trade-offs implicit in making our homes and other buildings greener and more sustainable – whether in new-builds or via retrofitting existing structures.  Greater initial capital expenditure, in the form of higher up-front costs, translates into lower operating expenditure, in the form of decreased energy consumption and savings…

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The 3 Cs: A new framework for getting buildings right The 3 Cs: A new framework for getting buildings right

A note from Robert Llewellyn

Eleven years have passed since I launched my YouTube channel Fully Charged, exploring and championing electric vehicles. Back then there were doubters – people who felt cars you couldn’t fill up at a petrol or diesel pump were a bit niche. Some thought this was technology better suited to Berkeley, California than Berkeley, Gloucestershire. Today, it…

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Climate Change: Is There a Tech Solution?

By David Howell As COP26 in Glasgow approaches, how can technology help in the fight to reverse or at least reduce the long-term impact of climate change? Clean tech and environment tech companies have a myriad of approaches. Can your business impact climate change? The ambitions of global governments to reach net zero carbon emissions…

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A COP26 for Gloucestershire

By Chris Brierley, Business Development Manager The climate conversation cannot start and end at COP26. How the Active Building Centre will host its own climate conference on the banks of the Severn this autumn. Climate gloucestershire – a summit of our own Cast your eyes across the Severn Estuary and you can see generations of…

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Wales highly efficient research sector punches above its weight new report

Today sees the publication of ‘A Performance-based Assessment of the Welsh Research Base’, which looks at the research produced by Welsh universities, partnerships and other institutions between 2010 and 2018. The review was commissioned by Professor Peter Halligan, the Chief Scientific Adviser for Wales, and carried out by Elsevier, an international information analytics company. The report shows…

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Making our buildings more active for a better future

BY Andrew Cameron-Smith Ron Cowley, chief executive officer of the Active Building Centre, describes how intelligent and energy-efficient active buildings are vital to the decarbonisation of our homes. Whatever else you’re doing today I bet you are not washing clothes in a river, or even, by hand, in a basin. Washing machines are now ubiquitous in…

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The public sector can be at the vanguard of a net-zero built environment

Ron Cowley, CEO of the Active Building Centre, ponders how the public sector has a vital role to play in driving the move to the decarbonisation of buildings I was recently privileged to chair a fascinating discussion between representatives of the Ministry of Defence, the Government Property Agency and the Infrastructure Projects Authority, debating the question: “Is…

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Backing for £505m homes as power stations project

The UK and Welsh Governments have approved the £505m Swansea Bay City Deal’s Homes as Power Stations project. Homes as Power Stations will facilitate the take up of energy efficient design and technologies in 1,000s of homes throughout South West Wales. Residents and businesses in Carmarthenshire, Neath Port Talbot, Pembrokeshire and Swansea are set to…

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Who pays for a green homes revolution?

By Ron Cowley, CEO In a perfect world we would put things right for ourselves without getting the government involved. If you own your home and need new carpets, you pay for them. Dripping tap, leaky roof, that ill-judged ‘signature wall’ you decided to paint deep blue then regretted? All your problem, not the Treasury’s….

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Solar power has a crucial role to play in the active revolution

Solar technology has been in the vanguard of the UK’s shift towards a decarbonised, decentralised energy system for years. Photovoltaic panels are an immediately recognisable indicator that a household has made the first big step to greener living, and the rooftops of the UK have been changed forever. Those panels are now found on one in…

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Making Our Homes Energy-Fit For The Future

When Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution in November 2020, it was no coincidence that Point 1 and Point 2 – the generation of Offshore Wind and production of Hydrogen power – focused on delivering clean and green energy capable of powering every UK home by 2030….

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Open call launches for COP26 built environment virtual pavilion

By Marie Greaves, Communications Team A coalition of over 100 partner organisations have launched an international Open Call for projects and a centrepiece installation to form part of the global COP26 Built Environment Virtual Pavilion, which will be delivered as part of COP26 in November.  Open call As announced last month, the Virtual Pavilion will explore key…

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Guest blog: celebrating the origins of future of active buildings

The Active Building Centre owes a lot to SPECIFIC. It proved that Active Buildings could provide not simply an interesting concept for the future, but a game-changing solution available right away.  Day in, day out we work alongside product manufacturers, construction firms and policy experts to help create greener buildings. It is our job to change the way Britain…

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Hearts, minds, wallets and making a smart case for change

By Simon McWhirter, Head of Engagement Here are two hard facts. If we don’t decarbonise our homes we won’t hit our climate targets. But if we simply order householders to foot big bills to make that change, many will refuse and understandably so. Consequences of change Within days of the press reporting a suggestion that…

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The challenge for Biden, Boris, and the rest of us

Imagine yourself several decades from now, settled happily in your rocking chair, when your wide-eyed great-granddaughter walks into the room. She fixes you with a stare and asks the question you have long dreaded: “What exactly did you do to cut carbon emissions from the UK’s stock of homes and commercial buildings in the early…

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World Earth Day – 2021

By Marie Greaves, Communications Team On World Earth Day, our CEO, Ron Cowley, explains why three little words echo so loudly for Active Building Centre  World Earth Day 2021 “Bold, creative and innovative” – those are at the heart of the vision championed today by more than a billion people around the globe.   Since…

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Net zero whole life carbon roadmap for the built environment

By Marie Greaves, Communications Team The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has announced a Steering Group and four new task groups which will support the development of the Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap for the Built Environment. The Active Building Centre, along with key contemporaries, will be supporting the Residential Retrofit group. Net zero whole life…

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Active Building Research Centre – a stronger story

Marie Greaves, Communications Team The second in a series of Stronger Stories from the Active Building Centre – part of Transforming Construction Challenge.  Here we explore the development of the Research Centre at Berkeley, South Gloucestershire and its aim is to speed up development of Active Building systems.    Shifting the narrative to match the…

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Budget 2021

BUDGET 2021 By Ron Cowley, Chief Executive Officer Published March 2021 Budget speeches don’t always leave you feeling optimistic, but this one was different. By the time the Chancellor sat down I wasn’t thinking about taxes or duties, but an opportunity to cut carbon emissions and plot a way through the pandemic for the economy….

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Active office – A stronger story

Marie Greaves, Communications Team The first in a series of Stronger Stories from the Active Building Centre as part of Transforming Construction Challenge.  It is a collaboration between the Active Building Centre and SPECIFIC IKC, and at the heart of it is the award winning Active Office.   Shifting the narrative to match the transformation With…

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Improving the energy efficiency of privately rented homes – beis consultation

Hywel Lloyd, Government Engagement Manager Part of the Active Building Centre’s mission is to raise awareness of Active Buildings and their benefits, and provide information, evidence and data to inform future policy. Raising standards in the private rental sector In their recent consultation ‘Improving the energy efficiency of privately rented homes’ BEIS proposed greater urgency…

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Tackling fuel poverty 2020-2035 – welsh government consultation

Hywel Lloyd, Government Engagement Manager Part of the Active Building Centre’s mission is to raise awareness of Active Buildings and their benefits, and provide information, evidence and data to inform future policy. Reducing fuel poverty or securing energy wealth In their recent consultation ‘Tackling fuel poverty 2020 – 2035’  the Welsh Government proposed greater urgency and action, significantly…

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Accelerator cities – retrofit resources

By Marie Greaves, Communications Team The Accelerator Cities Project publishes the retrofit resources, including the Playbook and Toolkit  Retrofit playbook As part of the Active Building Centre’s involvement with UKGBC’s Accelerator Cities, Dr Jo Atkinson, along with her contemporaries, have helped to shape and develop the retrofit resources, including a comprehensive Playbook.  The purpose of this is to…

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Getting the policy frame right to support the UK’s transition to net zero

Hywel Lloyd, Government Engagement Manager One of the challenges writ through the Active Building Centre brief is to help create a long-term, resilient ecosystem of Active Buildings. A key element of that is to create or encourage the right policy environment, both in terms of ‘hard’ policy features such as regulations or other legal requirements,…

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An active resolution for 2020

By Simon McWhirter, Head of Engagement At the start of each year it’s customary to make resolutions for the year ahead which, it is hoped, will encourage positive changes. Of course, for all the best intentions, after a few days, weeks or (occasionally) months, these commitments have either been broken or fallen by the wayside,…

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‘Precision-primed’ for an active recovery

By Hywel Lloyd, Government Engagement Manager Whether it’s a ‘return to normal’, the emergence of a ‘new normal’, a ‘green recovery’ or ‘Build Back Better’ now is the time to rebuild Active. Over the past few weeks the calls for an economic route map to take us forward beyond the pandemic have grown considerably.  Some…

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Activating our constrained local electricity grids

By Hywel Lloyd, Government Engagement Manager As the low carbon transition becomes the net zero transition the challenge facing the energy system will get more difficult as our collective progress in decarbonising our electricity supply needs to be replicated in the more complex worlds of heat and mobility.  Yet with all challenges comes opportunity. Net…

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Towns and cities work together on home retrofit with accelerator cities

By Hywel Lloyd, Government Engagement Manager The Active Building Centre is part of Accelerator Cities led by the UK Green Building Council Change in demand The UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) has today marked a major new phase of Accelerator Cities, a project which brings together some of the most ambitious local and combined authorities…

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Active buildings: changing the way people behave in their homes

By Professor Nick Pidgeon & Professor Karen Henwood, Cardiff University Active Buildings, the energy-efficient homes at Neath Wenham Place development which generate and store their energy, are an exciting innovation that has the potential to help residents lower their energy bills while also helping the environment. At the same time, they should improve the quality of life…

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Positive changes in Britain’s electricity

By Active Building Centre, Academic Research Team It’s been revealed that Britain has the cleanest electrical supply it has ever had, as zero-carbon energy became the country’s largest electricity supply in 2019. In an article by Grant Wilson, a lecturer in chemical engineering at the University of Birmingham who receives funding from the Engineering and…

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Active Building Centre and partners at Futurebuild leading decarbonisation of built environment

By Prof. Dave Worsley, Vice President (Innovation), Swansea University The Active Building Centre is an innovation partner for Futurebuild alongside Transforming Construction partners the Construction Innovation Hub and Transforming Construction Network Plus The UK construction industry has a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of both the introduction of modern methods of construction and…

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What are active buildings?

By Joanna Clarke, Head of Design Ever since designing the first Active Pod back in 2014, I have been on a remarkable journey alongside government-backed think tanks SPECIFIC and The Active Building Centre. Together we have been able to bring the concept of ‘Active Buildings’ to life. What is an ‘active building’? What is an…

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Active Building Centre sponsors industry event Futurebuild

By Cat Wilkins, Communications Manager Transforming Construction partners join forces at Futurebuild 2020 to accelerate pace of innovation Three of the largest R&D initiatives in the history of the UK’s construction sector are set to appear together at a trade event for the first time, as the UK Research & Innovation’s Transforming Construction Challenge partners…

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The case for an active, systems-based approach

By Joanna Clarke, Head of Design With COP 26 later this year, the UK government has a prime opportunity to set the tone for climate action for the start of the decade. In anticipation, questions arise around plans to reach net zero carbon by 2050, while helping other nations do the same. To date, government’s…

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The six degrees of active buildings

By Joanna Clarke, Head of Design If house-builders are going to adopt a new approach to house design in 2020, then I would whole-heartedly encourage them to consider an ‘Active’ one. Highly sustainable, the Active Home presents a system which allows a building to generate and intuitively store and release energy, good news for developers…

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Working together to decarbonise homes

By Laura Holt, Social Science Project Manager “It was such a pleasure to represent the Active Building Centre on Ofgem’s Young Professionals panel. I’m really excited to understand the ways in which low carbon homes could modify our energy behaviours and practices and the potential benefits to be gained from their occupancy.“ What challenges does the uk…

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Offsite and active

By Prof. Dave Worsley, Vice President (Innovation), Swansea University At UK Construction Week, which took place earlier this month, offsite and modular dominated the proceeding. Everywhere one looked there were myriad different structural solutions from lightweight steel frames to the latest in precast panelling. There is no doubt the construction industry is on the brink…

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From little acorns active buildings grow

By Jo Clarke, Head of Design 2020 promises to be an exciting year for the construction industry, particularly for architects where green and sustainable practices are rapidly starting to take root. One such system is the ‘Active Building’ approach, pioneers by the government-backed SPECIFIC and Active Building Centre, which I have had the privilege to…

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How do architects de-carbonise existing housing?

By Jo Clarke, Head of Design The first question we need to ask is what do we mean by decarbonise? Applied to buildings, it means reducing the emissions from energy used through operation as well as the embodied carbon of their structure, materials and technologies. To achieve the government’s 2050 net-zero target, we must also…

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Buildings mission to halve emissions by 2030

By Gill Kelleher, Policy Engagement Manager Our engagement with the Buildings Mission task group enabled the Active Building Centre to have an impact on the UK’s mission to tackle decarbonisation. In early 2019 the Buildings Mission task group published its report which looks at ways we can innovate to make low carbon buildings cheaper to…

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Neighbourhoods of the future

By Gill Kelleher, Policy Engagement Manager The next 10-20 years demand rapid, far-reaching transitions in the way we heat and power our homes and neighbourhoods.   The most recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report indicated that global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) need to fall by 45 percent from 2010 levels by…

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Architects have the ability to lead the drive towards EV adoption

By Simon McWhirter, Head of Engagement Sustainable design and green construction are going to lead industry debates in the coming year (and the foreseeable future). As we look to 2020, I think one thing which should be front and centre in architects’ minds is the integration and utility of electric vehicles (EVs) in the design…

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Nordic zero emission and plus energy buildings 2019 conference

By Dr Kate O’Sullivan, Research Associate The Nordic Zero Emission and Plus Energy Buildings (ZEB) 2019 conference is the first of a bi-annual series of conferences focusing on zero-carbon and positive carbon buildings. The conference is hosted in partnership with academia, industry and civic governance institutions. This year it was hosted by the Research Centre…

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Letter to editor – The Queen’s speech

By Prof. Dave Worsley, Vice President (Innovation), Swansea University While I’m encouraged by the focused points in the Queen’s Speech on renewable power and the greening of the countryside, the path to achievement will be both challenging and complex. Things are happening fast and to transform the construction and energy sectors, we must take a…

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An active solution: putting energy into architecture

By Simon McWhirter, Head of Engagement I’m sure most, if not all, architects (and other built environment professionals) reading this will be familiar with the Passivhaus model, but how many understand the term ‘Active Buildings’?  A relatively new approach to design, Active Buildings are those which combine efficient fabric, optimised controls and most importantly, smart…

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Housebuilders can navigate the nation toward EV adoption

By Simon McWhirter, Head of Engagement Increasing electric car sales have dominated the UK news agenda, capturing the imagination of the national media and highlighting that we are on the cusp of a sea change for business and consumer vehicle purchasing decisions.  Of course, this is to be welcomed as transport manufacturers start to embrace…

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Active buildings for future generations

This series of articles is a partnership between the Active Building Centre, SPECIFIC and SUNRISE. We each work with academic, industry and community partners to drive change in the construction industry. Our projects have distinct objectives and approaches but our shared message is simple: buildings don’t have to cost the Earth. Our vision for transformation…

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Empowering homeowners through active buildings

By Simon McWhirter, Head of Engagement Our environment is rapidly changing and we can observe it in real time. Hotter, drier summers and cooler, wetter winters are an inevitable consequence of climate change. Finding a panacea will not be an easy task and the road to mitigating the ecological problems we face will be long…

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Existing homes have to become electric homes

We all know the vision: electric cars silently charging overnight outside rows of homes, ready for the next morning, without a petrol station in sight. We know it’s coming too, one way or another. The recent huge investments in electric vehicle plants in the UK haven’t been made by accident. Once the government announced new…

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Designing active buildings

This series of articles is a partnership between the Active Building Centre, SPECIFIC and SUNRISE. We each work with academic, industry and community partners to drive change in the construction industry. Our projects have distinct objectives and approaches but our shared message is simple: buildings don’t have to cost the Earth. Our vision for transformation…

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The Construction Challenge and the Active Building Centre

By Jan Bell, Director of Operations The Active Building Centre has a critical role to play in the construction challenge I’m going to start with energy. Why am I starting with energy? 40% of all energy demands come from buildings. Our perspective is, if we’re going to transform construction, which we absolutely have to do…

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A distributed energy future for the uk

By Hywel Lloyd, Government Engagement Manager What does decarbonisation mean for the future of energy distribution? Energy is essential for life. Throughout history people have sought the fuel they need from their immediate surroundings. For most people electricity and gas are readily available to power and heat our homes, workplaces and social spaces. Evolution of …

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Collecting data from active buildings

By Des Brennan, Data and Smart Systems Research Officer Collecting data and gathering evidence to prove the case for Active Buildings A critical component of the Active Building Centre is the development of a national database of building performance data. Alongside a wider team at the Active Building Centre, I am working to deliver a…

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Active Building Centre 100 day success

By Cat Wilkins, Communications Manager As we approach our one-year milestone in November, this feels like a good time to reflect on the successful launch of the Active Building Centre and share some feedback from the independent review into our first 100 days We’ve had an incredible start! Bringing together so many of our early…

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New funding opportunities to transform UK construction

By Simon McWhirter, Head of Engagement Two new UKRI funding competitions are being launched to help businesses bring innovative construction solutions to market and demonstrate them on live projects. The Active Building Centre is part of the Transforming Construction Challenge which aims to drive change in the UK to construct buildings 50% faster, 33% cheaper and with…

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£36 million UK funding for Swansea University’s clean energy innovation

By Cat Wilkin, Communications Manager The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the rt hon Philip Hammond MP has announced new £36 million UK government funding to develop clean energy innovation at Swansea University. the new active building centre will seek to remove barriers and accelerate market adoption of new solar-powered building design. Funded by the UK…

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