Swansea-based SPECIFIC has today unveiled its ‘Active Office’ concept, a new building powered entirely using integrated, flexible solar panels, a PV solar thermal system and storage batteries.

SPECIFIC, a collaboration between Swansea University and the UK Innovation and Knowledge Centre, developed the concept in response to both the growing need to decarbonise the built environment and emerging trends regarding ‘buildings as power stations’.

It also builds on the ‘Active Classroom’ developed last year, which became the UK’s first energy positive – it generates more energy than it consumes – classroom.

Flexible solar cells line the building’s roof and generate electricity which is then stored in lithium-ion batteries housed within the building itself.

The building itself has been designed specifically to be easily, and quickly, replicable. It took just one week to assemble with core elements constructed offsite. Only technologies that are readily accessible and commercially available now have been used.

Kevin Bygate, chief operating officer at SPECIFIC, said that turning buildings into energy-positive power stations is a concept that demonstrably works.

“This new building will enable us to get data and evidence on how it can be applied to an office, helping us refine the design further.

“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,” he said.

The office has been opened by Wales secretary Alun Cairns, who hailed the development as a “living example of how a building can make a difference”.

“Research and innovation has a proven track record to stimulate our economy. The UK government has been a proud supporter of the project, and last year awarded £800,000 of funding towards it via Innovate UK.

“I have no doubt that I’ll be back to Swansea University in the near future because of the great strides they are taking in the science and research field which are being recognised around the world,” Cairns added.

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