Pilkington United Kingdom Limited has supported experts from Cardiff University and the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre at Swansea University in the design and delivery of the UK’s first purpose-built, low-cost energy smart house, capable of exporting more energy to the national electricity grid than it uses.
The house, designed by Professor Phil Jones and his team based at the Welsh School of Architecture, has been built as a prototype to deliver zero carbon housing and its unique design combines – for the first time – reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply and energy storage to create an energy positive house.
Constructed as part of the Wales Low Carbon Research Institute’s (LCRI) SOLCER project, the design follows the ‘buildings as power stations’ concept developed by SPECIFIC. It is unique in that it uses a number of technologies and design approaches, such as the low carbon systems, developed by the LCRI’s Low Carbon Buildings Research Programme.
Zero carbon energy performance involves a combination of reduced energy demand and renewable energy supply, using the electricity grid to import and export energy. Electrical and thermal storage have also been used to allow energy generated at the house to be used directly by the occupiers.
In order to drastically reduce the property’s energy use, the house uses an innovative energy-efficient design, which includes low-emissivity double-glazed aluminium-clad timber frame windows and doors, incorporating Pilkington energiKare™ glass. Pilkington energiKare™ is twice as energy-efficient as standard double glazing as it uses advanced coatings to reduce heat loss through windows and allows more heat (energy) from the sun in through the glass – this effect is known as solar gain. This improves the energy efficiency of the windows and subsequently helps to reduce the cost of heating bills.
As a strategic partner of SPECIFIC, one of only seven innovation and knowledge centres across the UK, Pilkington United Kingdom Limited has worked closely with academics and other industry partners, such as Tata Steel and BASF, in addressing the challenge of delivering low-carbon electricity and heat in UK buildings effectively and efficiently.
Phil Ramsey, chief technology officer at Pilkington United Kingdom Limited, said: “It’s vital that as an industry we contribute to the advancements in generating, storing and using energy in buildings, and are able to develop and deliver the latest in market-leading glazing technology to support this.
“We recognise the importance of forging strong links with academia and our work with partners, such as SPECIFIC, enables us to come together to develop innovative new ways to build the houses of the future. This particular project has used the latest design and technology to build a smart energy-positive house and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with SPECIFIC in order to deliver further developments in the area of energy efficient homes.”
Kevin Bygate, chief executive at SPECIFIC, added: “Buildings that can generate, store and release their own renewable energy could be a game-changer. The SOLCER House is intentionally built with the very best off-the-shelf, affordable technologies, so it proves what’s possible even now – and there’s plenty more technology in the pipeline.”