A novel resistive heating system developed at SPECIFIC supplies the majority of space heating within the building. This consists of a conductive coating applied to pre-painted steel sheets and bonded to the floor panels. The floor temperature is controlled remotely and set to maintain an internal room temperature in the main teaching space of 18°C during week days, when the space is occupied.
These combined heating systems enable the building to operate at comfortable temperatures all year without the need for any gas connection.
The electrical and heating systems are fully monitored, and the data is currently being analysed to determine actual performance of the building in use. For various reasons, a permanent connection to the main electricity grid is yet to be obtained, which has to date prevented total electricity generation from being measured accurately. However, based on current electricity generation figures and predictions using local weather data, we are confident that the building is energy positive, generating more energy than it consumes over an annual period.
Storage of renewable heat
At SPECIFIC, researchers are also developing a thermo-chemical heat store, capable of storing renewable heat generated during the summer months for use in the colder winter months. It is planned to install a prototype of this store in the Active Classroom later this year, further reducing the amount of energy imported into the building.
For SPECIFIC and its funders – the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Innovate UK – the success of this building has been critical for new developments. In November 2017 Innovate UK granted SPECIFIC £800K funding to deliver a second demonstrator building, known as the Active Office, which is currently under construction adjacent to the Active Classroom. This will include a curved building integrated photovoltaic roof capable of generating 23kWp of electricity, which will be stored in 100kWh of battery storage.
A novel solar thermal system, consisting of photovoltaic panels in evacuated tubes to provide electricity, space heating and water heating, will be installed on the south elevation and monitored to determine its performance.