The Active Building Centre

Lead Research Organisation: Swansea University
Department Name: School of Engineering


The ABC will be one of two hubs funded through the Transforming Construction Industrial Challenge. ABC aims to: 'revolutionise the way the UK designs, constructs and operates buildings by realising the potential for the integration of advanced offsite manufacturing with state of the art digital design. This will include the incorporation and integration of energy generation, storage, and release technologies to create Active Buildings which substantially reduce both the operational costs of buildings and their demand on the UK energy infrastructure'.

Our Vision is to enable energy resilient communities that are powered by the sun, share energy with transport and other buildings, whilst realising value for the UK by overcoming barriers and developing new business models with global potential.

The Mission - ABC is a national centre of excellence and will catalyse a revolution in smart buildings and energy sharing. ABC will bring together energy, construction, government and research to create a dynamic ecosystem that identifies barriers and creates solutions for scale up and deployment of buildings and communities that are Active. ABC will prove scale, enable an industry and create the conditions for market adoption. Critical to this will be clustered demonstration facilities on a variety of building typologies and pipeline of several thousand buildings which are being considered by a diverse array of assembled supporting companies and organisations.

We have already demonstrated that we can use buildings that are manufactured using the principles of car making to rapidly construct facilities that have facades that generate heat and electricity from the sun and include elements and new materials that store this energy (both electricity and heat) until we need it. Critically this enables buildings to be powered (electrically) and heated without any gas connection. In addition, our initial demonstrations have shown that the buildings can generate allot more energy than they use. Our 'Active Classroom' has generated over 1.6 times the energy used in its first full year and putting that in perspective the spare power would have driven one of our EVs for over 26,500 miles. Our aim then is to transform the way we think of buildings as consumers of power and requiring more infrastructure the more we build to a solution both to the requirements of occupancy and energy decarbonisation. One million homes would in essence require one large nuclear powerplant, however adoption of the new Active concept essentially delivers the homes and the powerplant at the same time. This is vitally important as we transition to electric cars which will be a major element of where excess power from buildings can be fed and with advanced new communication systems the fact that a car is stationary and by a building for almost 95% of its life we have potential for a huge mobile storage reserve.

Construction also creates positive economic conditions. To frame the opportunity in relation to Active Homes, in a recent report by the UK Housebuilders Federation, the economic case for increasing home building is compelling. Each additional 10,000 units would support 43,000 jobs, increase economic output by £1.36bn, lead to £120m in tax recovery, £43.2m in local infrastructure and an increase in local economic spending by £320m. 10,000 Active homes would also add renewable energy capacity of ca 50MW including storage via EVs, thermal stores and internal batteries. Clearly this is only part of the story since there will also be tremendous value from non-residential buildings that will be showcased for education, factory and commercial properties as part of the delivery programme for ABC and these in many cases can form energy hubs for existing communities of more traditional buildings.

Planned Impact

The ABC's overriding objective is to prove scale, stimulate the market and enable an industry for Active Buildings. The proliferation of Active Buildings will positively disrupt the energy and construction sectors and will provide numerous benefits for UK industry, the economy, the environment and society at large. Critically our core build programme of nine buildings, intermediate phase 2 programme of over 1500 and pipeline of 5000 will show at sufficient scale what the value and impact can be characterised by the following areas.

Benefits to the Construction and Manufacturing Industries and links to the Core Innovation Hub
Our approach of integrating renewable energy technologies into the fabric of buildings lends itself to pre-fabricated, off site manufacture and our alignment and close links with the Core Innovation Hub will, together, change the way that buildings are specified, designed and built. Off-site construction will address low productivity and the demographic shifts in the construction market. By minimising on-site works, the manufacturing sector, with its higher productivity, will grow. Consequently, more buildings can be constructed more quickly, and the industry will become more attractive to school leavers and young people.

Benefits to the Economy
As well as an improvement in productivity, further economic benefits include job creation through enabling what is effectively a new industry and consequently new companies. Furthermore, reduced operating costs for commercial and public-sector owners / occupiers will result in increased profitability and better tax-payer value respectfully. There will also be growth in export opportunities for UK businesses based on our industry leadership;

Benefits to Society
Societal benefits will be derived primarily through lower consumer energy costs leading to a reduction of fuel poverty and hence improved health and wellbeing. This in turn has a positive economic effect through a reduction in working days lost to sickness absence. Increasing renewable energy sources improves air quality and ABC's energy storage and release focus will accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles too. Cleaner, reliable energy sources integrated into buildings will dramatically increase support to healthy ageing.

Decarbonisation of the UK's energy is needed to meet the UKs commitments to decarbonisation as agreed in the Kyoto and Paris agreements. In the UK, buildings are responsible for around 40 % of the total energy consumed and are therefore also responsible for high levels of carbon dioxide emissions. ABC's approach means that Buildings become part of the solution not part of the problem.

ABC's work is not just about renewable electricity for buildings. Buildings can produce and store electricity not only for the building itself but also to "fuel" electric vehicles enabling further decarbonisation. Even more significant is that active buildings can generate, store and releases solar heat energy too. Heating, through the burning of fossil fuels, contributes immensely to carbon dioxide emissions, is costly and only has a finite future, So the work of ABC will go some way to alleviate this situation

Whilst ABC's remit does not include retrofit we recognise that, the social, economic and environmental benefits can only be maximised by addressing the retrofit challenge. It is estimated that around 70-80% of the UK's building stock that will exist in 2050 is already built. So, whilst new Active Buildings will provide significant benefits as described, a bigger prize is available if the retrofit challenge can be overcome. ABC will have a dedicated workstream to address this challenge, which again will lead to the creation of new jobs, export opportunities and growth in the construction sectors whilst further addressing the energy trilemma. It sis expected that work on retrofit will be a substantial component of the sustainability plan for ABC.



David Worsley (Principal Investigator)
David Coley (Co-Investigator)
Eric Colin Kerrigan (Co-Investigator) orcid
Ian Allan Wilson (Co-Investigator) orcid
Yulong Ding (Co-Investigator)
Philip Charles Eames (Co-Investigator)
Aad Van Moorsel (Co-Investigator)
Stephen Allen (Co-Investigator) orcid
Nicholas Pidgeon (Co-Investigator)
Vanessa Burholt (Co-Investigator)
Goran Strbac (Co-Investigator)
Rabah Boukhanouf (Co-Investigator) orcid
Paul Jones (Co-Investigator)
John Andrew Clark (Co-Investigator)
Kevin Lomas (Co-Investigator)
Matt Jones (Co-Investigator)
Nick Jenkins (Co-Investigator) orcid
Charalampos Patsios (Co-Investigator)
Ian Walker (Co-Investigator)
Tadj Oreszczyn (Co-Investigator)
Charles Morisset (Co-Investigator)
Jianzhong Wu (Co-Investigator)
Daniel Coca (Co-Investigator)
Damian Giaouris (Co-Investigator)
Ahsan Khan (Co-Investigator) orcid
Danielle Densley Tingley (Co-Investigator)
Mark Gillott (Co-Investigator)
Karen Henwood (Co-Investigator)
David Allinson (Co-Investigator)
Martin Mayfield (Co-Investigator)
Gareth Stratton (Co-Investigator) orcid
Lucelia Taranto Rodrigues (Co-Investigator) orcid
Sara Louise Walker (Co-Investigator)
Richard John Green (Co-Investigator) orcid
Janet Bell (Co-Investigator)
John Michael Walls (Co-Investigator)
Nilay Shah (Co-Investigator) orcid
Paola Falugi (Researcher)
Danny Pudjianto (Researcher)
Spyros Giannelos (Researcher) orcid


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