Buildings as Power Stations - Pod Blog

By Joanna Morgan 16 February 2015

Joanna Morgan, SPECIFIC's Buildings Integration Manager gives us an update on the first Building as a Power Station...

Our first Building as a Power Station has been up and running for 6 months and has survived the winter months unscathed! The pod has been designed to showcase, test and monitor the technologies under investigation at SPECIFIC, which focuses on the development of functional coatings to generate, store and release energy through the building envelope.

During this time, we have been monitoring its performance and collecting data which will be used to inform future research at SPECIFIC. The data is downloaded monthly and available for everyone at SPECIFIC to use in their research.

So far we have discovered that even on the coldest of days, if the sun is shining, the glazed solar air collector is highly effective at drawing warm air into the space.  For example, on 6th February it was 6°C outside and the temperature in the collector was recorded as 64°C at 1.30pm. This meant we could switch the heating on and raise the temperature inside the Pod by a few degrees.  The winter sun also provides enough electrical energy to charge the batteries, powering the heated floor tiles and LED lighting within the space.  However, additional batteries and a thermal store would help performance during cold, wet weather, when light levels are low………..maybe in the next version.

The process of putting the building together has been a good learning experience for all involved and has highlighted the importance of integrating the building integrated renewable energy generating technologies with storage and release of energy, and the challenges associated with doing this.  

We have also seen the benefits of the ‘fabric first’ approach to buildings – the well-insulated wall and roof panels and the Pilkington ‘energikare’ glass used in the entrance screen help to minimise heat losses.

The Pod has had a lot of visitors, most of who have kindly volunteered their own gardens as future demonstration spots!  As Spring approaches and the temperatures rise, we hope that it will see more use as a quiet working space or meeting room.

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