Active Office/Active Classroom, Swansea
Educational case studies, Colorcoat Prisma®, Colorcoat Urban®, Coretinium®, Trisobuild® plank, Colorcoat Renew SC®
Owner/Client: Swansea University
Main contractor & Architect: SPECIFIC
System manufacturer: Tata Steel, Building Systems UK (A Tata Steel Enterprise)
Tata Steel products: Colorcoat Prisma®, Colorcoat Urban®, Coretinium®, Colorcoat Renew SC® and Trisobuild®
Colours: Anthracite, Seren Black, Seren Copper, Seren Gold
Located at Swansea University’s Bay Campus, and designed and constructed by SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, the Active Office and Active Classroom are both designed to be energy positive buildings, capable of generating more solar energy than they consume during a typical annual cycle.
The Active Office is said to be the UK’s first energy positive office. The building contains a range of innovative technologies that enable it to generate, store and release solar energy. integrated photovoltaic roof for electricity generation and a wall-mounted photovoltaic-thermal system for electricity and heat generation, which work together with battery and heat storage in one combined system.
Electricity comes primarily from the 22kWp curved photovoltaic product and is stored in a 100kW lithium ion phosphate battery system. There is no gas supply to the Active Office as heating is derived from solar energy by a combination of solar thermal generation, air source heat pump and an immersion heater.
A smart controller uses occupancy and weather forecasting information to optimise charging of a 2,000 litre water-based thermal store, which is capable of storing enough energy to provide space heating for the following day, thereby enabling time-shifting of electrical heating demand
The Active Office also features the first commercial installation of a wall-mounted photovoltaic thermal (PVT) system, which is capable of supplying 2.4kWp electrical energy and 9.6kWp thermal energy.
The Active Office is a two-storey building, completed in June 2018 and constructed from 12 pre-assembled standing seam modules that use Colorcoat Prisma® pre-finished steel.
The Active Classroom is a single-storey building, also clad using Colorcoat Prisma® pre-finished steel. This building is used by the university for teaching and was built with an interlocking plank profile for the wall, and the standing seam profile for the roof.
Completed in 2016, the Active Classroom also demonstrates renewable energy technologies being developed by SPECIFIC and collaborative companies, such as Building Integrated Photovoltaics Company (BIPVco), used in the roof and windows, battery storage, a novel resistive underfloor heated system and solar thermal heat generation. The two Active buildings are able to share energy with each other, and with electric vehicles via three charging points, demonstrating how this concept could be applied in an energy resilient solar-powered community.
The main challenge was to create energy positive buildings and turn them from passive structures into ‘active’ ones using a range of functional systems and integrated technologies to generate, store and release solar heat and electricity.
Buildings are responsible for about 40% of energy consumption and 36% of carbon dioxide emissions in Europe. With its new low-carbon design approach, SPECIFIC’s aim is not only to develop an affordable, repeatable technical solution, but also to support the development of market conditions that will allow it to be rolled out at scale.
SPECIFIC is leading change by working with both construction industry partners – to integrate products into new systems and demonstrate that they work – and with government and regulators, whose policies are critical to wider adoption.
The Swansea area of South Wales is synonymous with steelmaking as Tata Steel’s Port Talbot steelworks is just a few miles away from the Bay Campus. For this reason, SPECIFIC wanted to use steel as much as possible on these structures and so a Building Systems UK (A Tata Steel Enterprise) wall and roof cladding system was chosen using Colorcoat Prisma® pre-finished steel, all made in Wales.
The Active Classroom also feature Tata Steel’s Colorcoat Renew SC® transpired solar collectors, The system captures heat from the sun and draws it into the building through a microperforated collector on the exterior of the building. Heated fresh air from the cavity is then used as a pre-heater to the main heating system. A transpired solar collector can collect around 50% of the energy falling on its surface, which equates to approximately 500wp/m2 of the collector’s surface area and can deliver around 250KWH/m2per year or up to 50% of space heating requirements.
The range of available colours was an important consideration on this project as SPECIFIC’s architect Joanna Clarke explains: “For both the Active Office and Active Classroom we wanted a wall and roof cladding system that could be supplied in colours that matched the surrounding Bay Campus buildings.”
“Many of the existing buildings are red-brick structures and so we chose to use Tata Steel’s Colorcoat Prisma® in Anthracite, Seren Black, Seren Copper and Seren Gold, as these colours helped our new buildings blend into the Campus.”
Using Tata Steel’s Colorcoat Urban® profile for the roofs and Trisobuild® for the walls, more than 1,150m2 of Tata Steel’s Colorcoat Prisma® was used to clad the Active Office and the Active Classroom. Trisobuild® plank profile was chosen for the Active Classroom because of the ease with which a PV window, developed by Pilkington Sunplus™ (BIPV), could be integrated.
Both of the structures have photovoltaic (PV) modules on their roofs, which were successfully fitted to the cladding elements prior to installation. This meant less work on site as the PV modules were then lifted into place as a ready to use system.
“The Active Classroom has a pitched roof and bonding the PV modules to the Tata Steel standing seam system Colorcoat Urban® was an effective operation for our supplier,” says Joanna Clarke.
“However, when it came to the Active Office, it was the first time we’d installed PV modules for a curving roof.”
Inside of both buildings, Tata Steel’s Coretinium® was also used. In the Active Office, the material has created three brainstorm walls, while in the Active Classroom it has formed a double-sided white board, which is also a partition wall separating the teaching space and the kitchen. Manufactured from high performance Colorcoat® pre-finished steel and a rigid polymer honeycomb core, Coretinium® provides a highly aesthetic composite solution with an exceptional rigidity to weight ratio. In the Active Classroom 50m2 of Coretinium® was used, while in the Active Office the three walls required 30m2 of the product.
SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund, through the Welsh Government.