Making construction greener is the goal for a new clean energy innovation scheme that generates electricity from “active buildings”.
The project, which has been launched led by a consortium led by Swansea University in Wales, sets out to develop new building materials that create renewable energy from heat and light.
Conventional walls, roofs and windows can be replaced with these materials and the clean energy can be used to power homes, hospitals and schools, or be sold back to the national grid.
The consortium, known as SPECIFIC, will carry out research and development (R&D) at the planned national Active Building Centre in Swansea, which will attempt to remove the barriers and accelerate market adoption of new solar-powered building designs.
Kevin Bygate, CEO of SPECIFIC, said: “The Active Building Centre gives us the opportunity to demonstrate the real benefits of active buildings and to address the challenges posed for mass adoption.
“Working collaboratively across energy and construction supply chains, the centre will be the convening point for industry and academia to provide solutions to help solve the significant decarbonisation challenges we face.”
The consortium working on the active buildings project combines a wide range of expertise, including engineering, energy systems integration, social science.
These include metal producer Tata Steel UK and Swansea-based non-profit Coastal Housing Group, which aims provide good quality affordable homes.
Dr Martin Brunnock, head of R&D Tata Steel UK, said: “Our long-term relationship with Swansea University, successful collaboration with Specific and ongoing role with this new flagship national centre enables Tata to showcase its construction technologies and related products from its portfolio along with that of other large, small, medium and micro industrial partners.”
Coastal Housing Group development director Gareth Davies added: “Active buildings enables our tenants to have better quality homes with lower energy bills, which allows a better quality of life.”
The Active Building Centre has the potential to transform how buildings use energy, turning them from energy consumers into power stations.