Written evidence submitted by Active Building Centre (REW0024)


A submission to the WAC Inquiry - Renewable Energy in Wales

From the Active Building Centre (ABC), a UK national centre developing modern methods of design, manufacturing and deployment for flexible renewable energy systems in buildings and communities. ABC emerged from the work of the SPECIFIC research programme at Swansea University.

ABC leads on the integration of energy technologies, to optimise the renewable / low-carbon energy a building can capture, manage, store and use efficiently from day-to-day, week-to-week, season-to-season; including the integration of EV technology where appropriate.

As such we would reinforce the fact that renewables technologies come in many sizes. Early research has shown home and building based technologies can lead to significant benefits, to the householder and to the energy system, including the potential for scalable deployment of Active Buildings (ABs) in support of greater renewable deployment on the system (as active storage helps capture and manage their output).  Please see research paper links below.

Given the UK’s commitment to move to a net zero world, free of fossil fuels, the potential of each and every technology that can capture and store renewable energy must be explored, developed and as we learn more about their capabilities, many should be supported to maximise their deployment and export potential.

This means exploring a range of building-based technologies that capture, store and redeploy energy from varied sources and in various manners. For ABC that involves:

The initial concept and programme of work of ABC is focused on developing and deploying the Active approach on new buildings of all typologies, both domestic and non-domestic; with an Active Office, Classroom, Industrial Building and Active Homes already built and operational (in the Swansea/Neath area).  We are now also exploring how ‘Activation’ would work for the existing stock. It is possible to upgrade buildings to be ‘near net neutral’ in their energy use.

These and other projects in the market with ABC partners will provide a growing portfolio of data, which in turn will enhance the knowledge base of how all buildings are designed, how they deploy and integrate energy and digital technologies, to give a much higher building performance for their users, be that as a home, office or service providing setting.

Our programmes of work in research, design, development and commercialisation will also, inter alia, explore solutions to the challenge of decarbonising heat.  Further information on our programme is here – www.activebuildingcentre.com.

In advance of that there are already lessons from the existing demonstrators, and the development of the Active Building principles that are relevant to your consultation, including:

[* ABC is initially funded through the Construction Sector Deal, part of the UK Industrial Strategy 2016]

This ubiquity should mean there is a renewable opportunity for every community in Wales. The key issue is for each to get a fair share of that opportunity and not see a partial approach dominated by one technology or another.  Clearly measures to ‘activate homes in every community, from new or as Upgrades, would mean every home would be highly efficient AND able to produce some of its own energy; some could be net energy producers, many could integrate an associated EV.

This would provide work in every community, help retain the wealth created by building based renewables in Wales, and optimise the local (DNO) grid for best advantage of those communities.

Early research for the Active Building programme suggests significant bill savings are possible, circa £600 per household, see more here.

In addition the following links will take you to additional evidence on the form, function and potential of Active Buildings including two recent papers from the ABC Research Programme:

Active Building General Principles  [New Build]



Building fabric and passive design – integrated engineering and architectural design approach including consideration of orientation and massing, fabric efficiency, natural day-lighting and natural ventilation.  Designed for occupant comfort and low energy by following passive design principles



Energy efficient systems - intelligently controlled & energy efficient systems to minimise loads - HVAC, lighting, vertical transportation. Data capture via inbuilt monitoring & standard naming schemas to enable optimisation and refinement of predictive control strategies



On-site renewable energy generation - renewable energy generation be incorporated where appropriate. Renewable technologies should be selected holistically, given site conditions and building load profiles



Energy storage - thermal and electrical storage should be considered to mitigate peak demand, reduce the requirement to oversize systems, and enable greater control




Electric vehicle integration - where appropriate Active Buildings integrate electric vehicle charging. As technology develops, bi-directional charging will allow electric vehicles to deliver energy to buildings as required



Intelligently manage integration with micro-grids & national energy network – in addition to intelligent control o building systems, Active Buildings manage their interaction with wider energy networks, e.g. demand side response, load shifting & predictive control methods




February 2021