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July 16, 2015

Britain gets its first energy positive ‘smart’ house

The Western Australian city of Perth has the highest occupancy rates outside the US, according to a report by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. Last year the city recorded an occupancy rate of 85.1 percent, followed by Panama with 84.7 percent, Dubai at 84.5 percent and Brisbane on 84.3 percent

Solcer House

Designers at Cardiff University in the UK have come up with SOLCER House, the ‘first purpose-built, low-cost energy smart house’ in the country, generating more energy than it uses.

The house has been developed by experts from the Welsh School of Architecture as part of the Wales Low Carbon Research Institute’s (LCRI) SOLCER project.

Welsh School of Architecture professor Phil Jones and his team have innovated the new structure as a prototype to meet the stringent UK targets for zero carbon housing.

"The team have innovated the new structure as a prototype to meet the stringent UK targets for zero carbon housing."

Supported by SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre at Swansea University, the ‘energy positive house’ meets the requirements for reduced energy demand, renewable energy supply, and energy storage.

Design of the structure has been based on the ‘Buildings as Power Stations’ concept that had been formulated by the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre. It integrates multiple technologies and design approaches developed under LCRI’s Low Carbon Buildings Research Programme.

SPECIFIC chief executive Kevin Bygate said: "Buildings that can generate, store and release their own renewable energy could be a game-changer.

"The SOLCER House is intentionally built with the best off-the-shelf, affordable technologies, so it proves what’s possible even now, and there’s plenty more technology in the pipeline."

To bring down its energy requirements, the house has been equipped with high levels of thermal insulation, which reduces air leakage.

The new energy-efficient design involves the use of low carbon cement, structural insulated panels (SIPS), external insulated render, transpired solar collectors, and low emissivity double-glazed aluminium-clad timber frame windows and doors.

Solar photovoltaic panels have been installed at the south-facing roof of the building, which ensure the roof space has its own source of light 24 / 7.

Energy systems for the house combine solar power and battery storage to support combined heating, ventilation, hot water systems, and electrical power systems inside the house.

Professor Jones said: "We will use this information to inform future projects, with the aim of ensuring that Wales remains at the heart of the development of a zero-carbon housing future.

"The building demonstrates our leading-edge low-carbon supply, storage and demand technologies at a domestic scale, which we hope will be replicated in other areas of Wales and the UK in the future."

The researchers had developed the ‘smart house’ over an extended period of 16 weeks, and completed it in February. Built on an industrial estate near Bridgend in Wales, the development cost £125,000 to build.

Image: Solcer House can help to meet the zero carbon targets in UK. Photo: courtesy of Cardiff University.

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