New Active Building Centre to transform the UK construction and energy sectors through the deployment of solar-powered buildings

Supplementary content information

Abstract image of orange squares

A new Active Building Centre (ABC) that aims to remove barriers and accelerate market adoption of new solar-powered building design was given the green light by The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond last month during a visit to Wales.

Chancellor Hammond, said: Swansea University and the innovative companies working with it are world-leaders in clean energy. The UK government is backing the industries of the future that will deliver jobs and opportunities across Wales. This £36 million new funding will support exciting green technology that could cut energy bills, reduce carbon emissions and create better homes and workspaces.

The centre will be funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund as part of the Transforming Construction challenge which seeks to provide safer, healthier and more affordable buildings that use dramatically less energy to construct and operate.

The ABC builds in the successes of the SPECIFIC innovation and knowledge centre, also based at Swansea, and will draw on the IP and developments that the IKC has enabled, with the ABC acting to further unlock the barriers to commercialisation.

SPECIFC has previously received funding by EPSRC, Innovate UK and the European Regional Development Fund, through the Welsh Government.

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said: As we move towards a low-carbon economy, we need to explore more efficient ways of generating, conserving and using power and energy.

Active Buildings, which integrate solar generation and storage technologies for electricity and heat within their construction, can help to achieve this. The Active Building Centre will work to remove barriers to the large-scale adoption of active buildings on new developments throughout the country.

The UK's work in this field has been world-leading, and the Centre is an important step towards realising the potential of low-carbon technologies.

The £36 million award will be used to build and establish the ABC with the aim to break down the barriers that prevent mass uptake of Active Buildings, by working across the UK strengths in research and innovation to:

  • Deliver a new physical centre that will provide a living lab and host key staff tackling the challenges around incorporating and integrating Active Building Technologies
  • Embed the use of Active components into construction standard practice through working with the Core Innovation Hub that will also be formed as part of the Transforming Construction Challenge
  • Draw on the significant technological advances and other insights from the wider research community, in addition undertake user-inspired research and innovation activities
  • Work with commercial developers and the public sector to deliver a critical mass of Active Buildings in the UK
  • Feed performance data, social and behavioural insight from Active Buildings back into the research and technology base to drive iterative research, innovation and product improvement
  • Address the appropriate standards and regulatory barriers that inhibit buildings from incorporating Active Building Technologies.

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund aims to bring together the UK's world leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time. The fund was created to provide funding and support to UK businesses and researchers, part of the government's £4.7 billion increase in research and development over the next four years. It was designed to ensure that research and innovation takes centre stage in the Government's modern Industrial Strategy. It is run by UK Research and Innovation.

UK Research and Innovation is a new body which works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. We aim to maximise the contribution of each of our component parts, working individually and collectively. We work with our many partners to benefit everyone through knowledge, talent and ideas.

Operating across the whole of the UK with a combined budget of more than £6 billion, UK Research and Innovation brings together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England.

Reference: PN 71-18