After one year in operation, the numbers are in: the United Kingdom‘s first energy-positive classroom is capable of producing 1.5 times the amount of energy it needs to operate. Known as the Active Classroom, the energy-producing classroom stands as a shining example of what is possible as the U.K. and other nations attempt to transform their energy systems in response to climate change. The building was designed by experts at SPECIFIC, a U.K. Innovation and Knowledge Center led by Swansea University, whose “research focuses on developing solar technologies and the processing techniques that take them from the lab to full-scale buildings,” according to its research director Dave Worsley. Currently, 40 percent of British energy is consumed by buildings.
The Active Classroom incorporates several different technologies and design features to achieve its net positive energy status. The roof is curved and lined with laminated photovoltaic panels, while a thermal photovoltaic system is installed on the southern facing wall of the building, capable of producing heat and energy from its sun-exposed location. To store this energy, the classroom harnesses lithium ion batteries and a 2,000 liter water tank specifically for storing solar heat.
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The Active Classroom stands next to the Active Office, a similar structure built by SPECIFIC. “The Active Office and Classroom will be linked together and able to share energy with each other and electric vehicles, demonstrating how the concept could be applied in an energy-resilient solar-powered community,” Worsley said. These buildings are designed to be simple and quick to assemble, taking only about a week to set up. “It’s difficult to overstate the potential of developing a building that powers itself,” explained Innovate U.K. executive chair Ian Campbell. “The concept could genuinely revolutionize not only the construction sector but completely change how we create and use energy.”
Images via SPECIFIC