Blogging the Active Office Build!

By Joanna Clarke (Building Integration Manager at SPECIFIC) 12 January 2018


Week 15: 

16th - 20th April 

The Seren Gold Colorcoat® Prisma cladding on the east elevation was shining in the sun on Friday morning, as was the BIPVCo roof, which looks stunning on the curved profile.

Other progress made this week includes connecting the building up to the mains water supply, finishing the termination of the PV cables, first fix electrical works, internal painting and a continuation of mechanical systems installations.  It’s a busy site!

We also met up with specialist building management systems engineers from Demma to talk control systems - a little over my head, but all made sense to our highly proficient Smart Systems Engineer, Richard Lewis – he most certainly knows what he’s talking about when it comes to integrating the technologies and controlling them smartly.

Active Office  week 15

Week 14: 

9th - 13th April 

The BIPVCo photovoltaic roof installation was completed this week, and all the cables connected by Dulas, ready to be linked to the battery system. The roof looks fantastic, the flexible modules really lending themselves to the curved roof profile.

The Seren Copper Colorcoat® Prisma cladding works well in blending the building into the site, matching to both the Active Classroom and the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI). Once the scaffolding comes down, in just a few weeks, the full vision of the building will be revealed.

And an update on the plants – all of these seedlings will be making their way into the living wall within the next few weeks.

PV roof

plants and cladding



Week 13: 

2nd - 6th April 

Most of the progress this week has been internal – installing ductwork, pipes and cable runs, as well as preparations for internal decoration.

Kelda Technology have provided us with one of their new digital shower systems, which uses 50% less water than a typical shower system, while delivering an invigorating shower experience.  It looks good too!

Revisiting the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) we are capturing to comply with requirements of the Fusion21 framework:

Construction Time         

This has been significantly reduced through the use of off-site construction, which enabled the main building elements to be constructed in factory conditions, with no site hindrances such as inclement weather. Also helped by the whole project team working together collaboratively.

Construction Cost          

Through working closely with our contractors and supply chain partners, it has been possible to keep costs under control and within budget.  Plus, the off-site process has contributed to cost savings, partly due to a reduction in labour hours and less construction site overheads. 

Construction Quality     

Off-site construction enables a better quality of construction due to the controlled environment. Having strong relationships with local contractors and their supply chain has also helped Wernick ensure a good quality build. 

Health and Safety          

The factory environment provides safer working conditions than a construction site, reducing the amount of work that needs to be undertaken at height and during poor weather conditions, for example.

Impact on the Environment       

The use of renewable technologies, to enable an energy positive building, significantly reduces the impact of the building on the environment.  

Active Office - week 13

Week 12: 

26th - 30th March

Our BIPVCo roof arrived this week!  The 49no. panels, with a total of 91no. 240W modules, were craned into position on Wednesday and are currently being installed on the curved roof.  They are looking good, despite the wet weather.

Back in the Plant Room, Pursey and Ball are doing a fantastic job  connecting up the heating system, which will be fed from the Naked Energy PV-T panels once installed on the south elevation.  We’re very impressed with their neat pipework!

This project would never have progressed so quickly without an open and collaborative spirit of working, made possible by SPECIFIC and Wernick Group and our supply chain partners. The ability to engage with the contractor and supply chain early in the design process, through use of the Fusion 21 framework, saved both costs and time, and enabled the whole project team to work together to ensure the successful delivery of this unique building.

And we ended the week with a bit of fun – an Easter egg hunt around the Active Classroom, using interesting facts about the building as clues. Great idea Sharon and Ella!

Week 12 AO blog


Week 11: 

19th - 23rd March

This week we had our first meeting with Dulas who are providing the grid attached energy storage system of just over 100kWh, using 8 BYD lithium-ion phosphate batteries. The PV roof will be connected up to these batteries to provide power for the building. They will also be connected to the Active Classroom battery system, providing a total of 160kWh of storage.

Cladding is progressing, starting with the Seren Copper on the East Elevation, while the electrical cables are being pulled through the ducts ready for connecting the building to the main electricity grid.

And more seed planting took place at Gnoll Primary School on Friday with years 3 and 4.  Thank you to all involved, especially Mr Davison for arranging! To fill the wall, we need 450 plants and we already have hundreds of seeds growing in readiness to be planted in the wall.

week 11 - active office



Week 10: 

12th -16th March 

It’s British Science Week #BSW18; a 10-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths; so a perfect time to engage with the community on the exciting work we are doing here at SPECIFIC. 

We were thrilled to take part in the Intellectual Property Office’s celebrations by giving a thought-provoking lunchtime talk at their Newport Office on Wednesday as part of their week-long programme of seminars themed “The STEM of Wales”, which stimulated some interesting discussions on the changing world of energy and buildings.

The Active Office will feature a living wall and ‘post-industrial’ garden nearby so it was a great opportunity to visit Bryncoch Church in Wales Primary School to plant seeds and spark their interest in the diverse nature of construction. We also visited the pupils of Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr to take part in the BBC School Report [read full blog here

Back on site, the double height glazed curtain walling forming the main entrance screen was installed this week, completing the watertight envelope of the building.  Internally, pipes and ductwork for the heating and hot water systems are being installed, ready for connection to the solar thermal system.


Week 9: 

5th March - 9th March

The copper and gold Tata Colorcoat® Urban cladding sheets have been delivered to site this week ready for installation over the next four weeks.  This will transform the appearance of the building, matching it to the adjacent buildings – the Active Classroom and the Energy Safety Research Institute.  Meanwhile the roof structure has been prepared for the photovoltaic (PV) roof installation, using plywood sheeting to form the substrate for the roof sheets.

We are looking forward to seeing the novel solar PV-T tubes from Naked Energy, that will be mounted on the south elevation to supply warm air into our heating system.  This will consist of 40 evacuated tubes with integral PV absorber plates, generating a total heating capacity of approximately 9kWh and 2kWp of electricity to supplement the 23kWp BIPVCO rooftop array.

Week 9 - AO blog


On Friday, colleagues from one of our industrial partners, AkzoNobel, visited to discuss opportunities to include functional coatings within the building, such as Dulux Light + Space, which could reduce artificial lighting requirements, coatings that absorb pollutants and stain repellent coatings – exciting stuff! 

The aluminium door and window frames were polyester powder coated in RAL 7016 Matt by AkzoNobel.  The glass used in the windows and curtain walling is Pilkington energiKare™ Advantage, supplied by another of our industrial partners, NSG, PilkingtonUK.

We also had our first walk around the interior and were pleased with the feel of the spaces.

Week 9 - inside look


Week 8: 

26th February - 2nd March

There’s been a lot of activity on site this week, with the contractors continuing to brave the cold easterly winds and plummeting temperatures. On Monday another crane arrived on site to lift the 31 curved timber roof trusses into position, fortunately before the ‘Beast from the East’ made an appearance! These will then be covered with a layer of plywood before the photovoltaic roof covering is fitted in just a few weeks’ time.

Meanwhile, on the ground, building of the brickwork plinth has commenced – this will form a base to the steel cladding that will eventually shroud the building. The service trench for the connection to the mains services has also been dug in readiness for the grid connection to be installed. 

With all this activity taking place to construct our second energy positive building, what better setting for a Sustainable Construction workshop on Wednesday #SupplyCSSchool. You couldn’t ask for a more fitting venue!

Week 8 of Active Office blog

Week 7: 

19th - 23rd February

Progress on site has continued this week to complete the erection of the scaffolding and to bolt the modules together in preparation for the roof works to commence next week.

As part of our responsibilities under the Fusion 21 Framework, we will be capturing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) developed at the Centre for Construction Innovation (CCI) by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and the University of Salford, to deliver innovation and improvement in the built environment.  The main KPIs we will focus on include:

  • Construction Time
  • Construction Cost
  • Construction Quality
  • Health and Safety
  • Impact on the Environment

The use of a modular construction system, manufactured off-site in a factory environment, will help us achieve these KPIs, together with the fact that the building will be energy positive, generating more energy than it consumes #BuildingsasPowerStations.

Next week, the curved roof trusses will be craned into position, which will see the building really taking shape.

Week 6: 

12th – 16th February 

What an exciting week for the Active Office build!

On Tuesday, the ground-floor modules were delivered to site and carefully craned into position on the pre-prepared foundations, using a 300-tonne crane. High winds and torrential rain on Wednesday delayed the delivery of the first-floor modules and the roof trusses until Thursday, which turned out to be a much better day. Scaffolding is currently being erected around the building ready for the next stage, which is to wrap the building in steel cladding, using some of the awesome new contemporary colours available in the Colorcoat Prisma® range – Seren Copper and Seren Gold.

The south elevation will also include the first commercial scale installation of Virtu, a


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