Wernick were pleased to attend the opening of the Active Office at Swansea University’s Bay Campus. Designed by SPECIFIC, a UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre led by Swansea University, the building will generate more energy than it uses over the course of a year.
The office was formally opened by Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, which began a day of talks and discussion between representatives from key organisations driving innovation in energy and construction in Wales and the UK.
The Active Office was manufactured and delivered by offsite specialist Wernick Buildings. The total program was just 8 months, with installation of the building taking only three days. Offsite construction makes the office easy to reproduce, and with all technologies used in the building being commercially available there is no reason why they could not be used on any new building. As Kevin Bygate, Chief Operating Officer at SPECIFIC points out; “The Active Office is a first, but it isn’t a one-off. It is quick to build using existing supply chains, and uses only materials that are already available. This is tomorrow’s office, but it can be built today.”
The ‘buildings as power stations’ concept behind the Active Office has already been shown to work in the Active Classroom situated alongside it, which in its first year generated more energy than it consumed. With a greater energy demand, however, the Active Office needs to be even more innovative, with technologies including integrated solar cells in the curved roof, lithium ion batteries to store electricity and a 2,000 litre water tank to store solar heat.
Construction of the building also minimised energy and material waste. Most of the building was manufactured off site at Wernick Building’s dedicated factory facility in nearby Port Talbot, which is itself partly powered by 280 photovoltaic panels. Factory manufacture allows for better waste management, with segregated waste streams minimising the waste going to landfill. Delivery of building modules took place over just three days, minimising vehicle movements needed.
Stuart Wilkie, Managing Director of Wernick Buildings, commented “We’re very proud to be involved in the Active Office project, which we hope will serve not only as a demonstration of the potential of modular construction as well as the technology used in the building.
Thanks to excellent working relationships across the project, the team has not just delivered the UK’s first energy positive office, but an architecturally designed, high performance building on budget and to a challenging timescale.”
The Active Office was funded by Innovate UK, with support from Swansea University and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government, and is sponsored by Tata Steel and Cisco.