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Cymraeg

Are walls and roofs the key to low carbon future?

12 April 2010

Sustainable BuildingArtists’ impression of the Sustainable Building Envelope Centre (SBEC) in North Wales - a testing centre and a showcase for sustainable products

One of the University’s leading research institutes has taken another significant step towards helping Wales succeed in securing a low-carbon future.

The Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI) based in the University’s Welsh School of Architecture has established the Sustainable Building Envelope Centre (SBEC). It will develop the ultimate in low carbon, low energy, sustainable construction technologies where the actual façade of buildings – the walls and roofs - are used to transform the buildings from being energy consumers into energy generators.

The new research centre in north Wales, one of the ground-breaking projects to come out of the £34M LCRI will be a showcase for sustainable products and used to test and monitor new integrated heating, energy and ventilation systems on the fabric of the building.

SBEC, which is being established in partnership with Corus Colors on its Shotton site in Deeside, will support the aspiration for Wales to become the exemplar for sustainable construction in Europe.

The aim is twofold:

  • To accelerate the delivery of low and zero carbon solutions for the Welsh built environment to meet the challenging environmental targets set by the Welsh Assembly Government;
  • To increase economic benefits for Welsh supply chains by supporting the commercialisation of these solutions on a global basis.

A team of eighteen people at SBEC, including staff from the LCRI and Corus, will be involved in the design, modelling, prototyping, testing and monitoring of a suite of heating and energy solutions based primarily on photovoltaic and solar thermal technologies. They will focus on the practical integration of these systems into the full range of building types, and will be collaborating with a wide range of development partners. The building, designed by the Welsh School of Architecture with funding from Corus and the LCRI, is expected to be completed by October of this year.

Professor Phil Jones, Chair of the LCRI and Head of the Welsh School of Architecture, said the collaboration is at the leading edge of sustainable building technology development and targeting solutions that will make a significant impact on the modern built environment.

"SBEC aims to develop practical, economic and aesthetically pleasing solutions that will work equally well in new build and retrofit situations. This last point is critical, as the stretching CO2 and energy reduction targets will not be met unless cost effective ways can be found to upgrade the existing building stock."

Ieuan Wyn Jones, Minister for the Economy and Transport, described the project as being of strategic importance to the economy, driving forward research and development in key growth areas and creating opportunities to boost green jobs. He said: "We have significant strengths in this sector both in industry and in our universities and this project has the potential to put Wales at the forefront of exciting new developments in sustainable construction whilst also delivering real environmental benefits."

Lesley Griffiths, Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills, welcomed the announcement and described it as an exciting research project: "It represents an excellent example of how academia, industry and Government can collaborate closely together to accelerate the conversion of innovative ideas into real economic value."

Kevin Bygate, Director Business Development at Corus Colors, explained the strategic significance of the project: "The opportunity for macro-scale micro-generation is enormous and can make a significant contribution towards our global targets in renewable energy. Our vision is to functionalise the roofs and walls of buildings and transform these from being energy consumers into energy generators. SBEC is without doubt one of the most exciting projects I have ever been involved in, and we are delighted to be working so closely with both the LCRI and the Welsh Assembly Government."

The LCRI is supported by European funding through the Welsh Assembly Government and is led by the Welsh School of Architecture. Backed by five other Welsh universities, it is driving forward cutting-edge research to secure a low carbon future for Wales, create green jobs and help business to develop sustainable products and technologies.

Last month, the University’s Geoenvironmental Research Centre (GRC), based in the University’s School of Engineering, was awarded the £8.3M SEREN project. It will investigate carbon storage, and more efficient extraction of heat from the ground, with the aim of creating two new industries in Wales supporting new jobs and businesses, and with the potential to make a significant contribution to Wales’ quest to become self sufficient in energy.

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