The near completion of my doctorate coincides with SPECIFIC celebrating their 10th Anniversary!
Celebrations began in April, with a review of the fundamental scientific research into novel energy generation and storage technologies, including the next generation of printable PV cells and inter-seasonal heat storage. In May, the support we have provided to businesses was reviewed. And the celebrations culminated this month, by showcasing our work in the built environment – really highlighting the influence our building demonstrators have had on the trajectory of SPECIFIC since I joined the team almost 8 years ago.
- Our first demonstrator, the Active Pod, illustrated the Active Building concept in a small, garden office building, showing how generate, store and release technologies could work together to provide the energy needs of a building, with less reliance on the grid;
- We then constructed the Active Classroom in 2016, which demonstrated the concept on a larger building that would be used for teaching, and hosting meetings and workshops, while providing a platform for trialling new technologies and systems. This enabled us to collect data on the performance of emerging technologies when installed on or in a building, rather than in a controlled environment, such as a laboratory;
- This was followed by the Active Office in 2018, which showed that it was possible to connect emerging technologies to well-established building energy systems, and allows us to experiment with different demand management strategies.
Also this month, we added to the Active Building Toolkit that was launched in November 2020, with a further case study on our retrofit industrial building, aptly named the SHED (Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator). This was actually our first building demonstrator and has been used to demonstrate different technologies since 2011, at the very beginning of SPECIFIC, before I joined in 2013. This case study gives a brief overview of 10 separate demonstration projects housed in or outside the SHED. These include: thermal storage connected to solar thermal systems, a PV and solar thermal test rig, and an Active Rail Shelter; and we’ll be expanding on these in further case studies as we collect more data from them.
Other additions to the website during this month included a recording of my Active Buildings in Practice webinar, which you can view here; and a Vlog on the ongoing data monitoring of our Active Office by our Technology Director, Dr Justin Searle.
It’s been great to look back on how SPECIFIC has grown as a centre since 2011 and exciting to start making plans for the future and hopefully the next 10 years.
As we gain more experience from our own building demonstrators, we are able to share our knowledge with the construction industry and encourage the development of more Active Building projects. Later this year, the first Active Classroom demonstrator for rural Indian villages will be constructed, providing a solution for rural villages with limited and unreliable access to grid electricity. This is being funded through our sister project, SUNRISE.
We have quite a few other exciting projects in the pipeline too, which will keep us busy for the foreseeable future.