The Active Office: The Building That Makes You Money

A project led by Swansea University, SPECIFIC’s Active Office is an energy producing building. SPECIFIC specialise in energy friendly structures and have many eco-friendly power production methods. The new Active Office will generate and store it’s own solar energy and utilises solar thermal and solar photovoltaic generation. Not only was it built off-site, but it was designed and built in 6 months.

Every day we get enough energy from the sun to power our planet for 27 years, yet most of this goes to waste as there isn’t enough solar panels absorbing it. SPECIFIC are working with AkzoNobel, NSG Group and Tata Steel to increase the amount of Solar Energy we store and use. Funded by EPSRC, Innovate UK and the EU, they’re creating demonstrators to reduce the risk in corporate companies. Wales has a very high amount of fuel poverty – which means that at least 20% of their income goes on heating the house, so the use of this sort of technology could help reduce the price of heating for houses.

The Active Office includes solar panels produced by BIPVco. Not only do they look superior, but they are far more durable and wind resistant than your average solar panel. Another great energy source are the new PVT solar thermal tubes produced by Naked Energy. The PVT tubes create a lot of heat from the sunlight and warmth. Combined with the solar panels inside the tube and they are far more efficient way of creating not only electricity, but heat as well. There is also the thermo-chemical storage; basic minerals that gather heat. It may sound simple but it definitely isn’t. The energy and heat from the PVT tubes can gather in the Summer and be saved until Winter. They have not yet entered the Active Office but will be later in production.

In an average day, the Active Office will produce 1.5 times the amount of electricity it uses. It’s energy production could save people thousands of pounds on electricity. Another great benefit of the Active Office that it would relive pressure from the Electricity Grid. Most people get home from work and turn on the TV and boil the kettle; this is called peak point. The Active Office stores energy until this point to take pressure off of the Electricity Grid. With all of it’s renewable energy, the Active Office would be reducing the amount of carbon emission going into the atmosphere and helping the fight against global warming, however the main purpose is to create more energy than it consumes.

The Active Office isn’t the first demonstrator of it’s kind. The Active Classroom has the same objective of showing the world these new technologies but on a smaller scale. As was in the Classroom there will be a living wall on the office which attracts wildlife and reduces carbon footprint. The office’s heated floor panels are a larger scale version of those in the Active Classroom and are the first electrically-heated raised access floor system in the world. Project SUNRISE is a £7,000,000 project next on the list. The plan is to build 5 more very similar classrooms in Indian villages. India has a lot of fuel poverty so the Active Classroom could really make a difference.

Overall the Active Office will be a demonstration of how we can produce more energy than we consume. With the added benefits of relieving stress off of the energy grid, being built off-site and being conceived, designed and built in just 6 months, the Active Office is a truly innovative project created by SPECIFIC.