The Active Classroom was constructed in 2016 and was the first building to demonstrate the Active Building concept. Learnings from the Active Classroom were taken, and systems refined to develop the concept further in the Active Office, which was constructed in 2018.

Both buildings were designed and delivered by SPECIFIC IKC, proving the Active Building concept and paving the way for the development of the Active Building Centre, which was funded through the Transforming Construction challenge in September 2018.

The Active Office is fully monitored, with metering on every individual circuit. The concept of an Active Building operating as an Active Agent within the energy system is tested on this building, through the use of the 110kWh battery system (which stores electricity generated from the 22kWp building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roof); a range of different charging points for electric vehicles, including a Vehicle-to-Building (V2B) charger; and the thermal store; all of which enable the building energy system to choose when to discharge energy into the grid and when to utilise the grid supply for charging the electrical and thermal storage devices. Data collected from the building will feed into the development of predictive control strategies and performance specifications, supporting the delivery programme for the Active Building Centre.

The data from these buildings will also be used to develop monitoring specifications to enable standard data to be collected from further Active Buildings in a National Active Building Evidence Base (NABEB). Assessing the monitoring currently in place within the buildings will highlight whether any additional data is needed and how this should be collected, as well as how it is presented. Data captured on the thermal and electrical load profiles of the buildings will contribute to the development of tools, as well as contributing to the development of systems and suppliers for Active Buildings.

The buildings have been used extensively to engage with key stakeholders – identifying commercial and industrial partnerships; highlighting the research capabilities of the University; engaging with government ministers; and educating students. This engagement has been fundamental in developing the building demonstration pipeline, which will enable Active Buildings to be developed and delivered with partners.

A Whole Life Cost Comparison report has been commissioned to quantify economic benefits of Active Buildings as Active Agents in the energy system, to help create commercial opportunities. This data is crucial in enabling the focus on construction costs to shift towards the costs of a building across its life cycle, particularly its use of energy.

The buildings are also helping the Active Building Centre by generating data to quantify the benefits of Active Buildings for whole energy system investment models.

These buildings demonstrate the possibilities of providing smart, energy efficient buildings with low emissions, within shorter timescales than the construction industry is used to, contributing to the mission to halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030 set out in the Clean Growth Grand Challenge within the Construction Sector Deal. Both buildings were delivered through collaboration between SPECIFIC and industry partners – developing partnerships seen as being critical to the success of the Sector Deal. The Active Office was mentioned in the Construction Sector Deal as an example of innovation in construction that is already happening and will be built on through the Active Building Centre.

SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre is an academic and industrial consortium led by Swansea University, with strategic partners Akzo Nobel, NSG Pilkington, Tata Steel and Cardiff University.

It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund, through the Welsh Government.