Energy-positive classroom and SPECIFIC researcher shortlisted for four awards

The UK’s first energy positive classroom, built by a Swansea University-led team, has been shortlisted in three categories, with a team member shortlisted in another, in the 2017 Construction Excellence Wales Awards.

Built by Swansea University’s SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre, the Active Classroom generates, stores and releases its own solar energy. It is a building for learning from, not just in.  The classroom is on Swansea University’s Bay Campus.

The Construction Excellence Wales awards celebrate the best of the construction industry in Wales.

The classroom has been shortlisted for:

  • Innovation Award
  • Integration & Collaborative Working Award (in conjunction with Tata Steel)
  • Sustainability Award

In addition, Tom Griffiths, who is a Smart Systems & Integration Manager on the SPECIFIC team, has been shortlisted for the Young Achiever Award.

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Picture: the Active Classroom, which generates, stores and releases its own energy

Kevin Bygate, Chief Executive of SPECIFIC, said:

“We’re proud to be shortlisted in so many categories for the Constructing Excellence Wales Awards; it’s recognition of the hard work and dedication of the team at SPECIFIC. 

SPECIFIC's vision is to transform buildings into power stations, led by Swansea University and demonstrated by the Active Classroom at the Bay Campus.

This vision offers a unique, global opportunity for cutting-edge buildings that generate, store and release solar energy, thereby heating themselves, reducing grid stress and energy costs. 

It will have a significant impact on lowering energy bills and eliminating fuel poverty, decarbonising heating, and opening up a massive, untapped global market for energy sustainable buildings.” 

WATCH:  The Active Classroom

Tom Griffiths’ professional impact was highlighted in the submission which led to him being shortlisted:

“Tom is able to find innovative solutions and apply this to create further links with industry to advance the SPECIFIC project.

When the classroom was producing a surplus of energy, Tom plugged in our electric Nissan Leaf to use the classroom to charge the battery. A photo of this was tweeted to Nissan, who in turn contacted the project to discuss collaboration.

Tom was recently invited by the SPECIFIC senior management team to visit Nissan UK with them for a meeting to find out how Nissan could use some of our other technologies on one of their warehouse buildings in Sunderland. This is another fantastic example where Tom’s innovations have led to real research collaboration benefits for SPECIFIC.”

About the Active Classroom:

Electricity is generated by a steel roof with integrated solar cells, supplied by SPECIFIC spin out company BIPVco. It is connected to two Aquion Energy saltwater batteries, which are being used in the UK for the first time and are capable of storing enough energy to power the building for two days.

The building also uses Tata Steel’s perforated steel cladding for generation of solar heat energy, which can be stored in a water-based system, and an electrically-heated floor coating that has been developed by SPECIFIC researchers.

The Active Classroom provides teaching space and a laboratory for Swansea University students, as well as a building-scale development facility for SPECIFIC and its industry partners.

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Picture: Two saltwater batteries which store the energy to power the classroom

More pictures of the classroom

SPECIFIC is led by Swansea University and working with more than 50 partners from academia, industry and government to deliver its vision for buildings as power stations. Its Strategic Partners are Tata Steel, BASF, NSG Pilkington Glass and Cardiff University, and it is part-funded by Innovate UK, EPSRC, and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.