The off-grid, self-sufficient building concept uses only energy generated by the sun


There are more than 25 full-scale demonstrator sites that incorporate various aspects of the buildings as power stations concept. Our ‘Concepts’ room at Baglan Bay Innovation Centre, which has seen more than 2,000 visitors pass through. As well as showcasing our technologies, our demonstrators are used to monitor and develop the technologies under realistic conditions.

Our flagship demonstrator is the Active Classroom, which has been constructed on site at Swansea University Bay Campus. We also have our initial proof of concept building, the "Pod" that now serves as a base for security staff at the Bay Campus car park. There is also an environmentally controlled demonstration room on site at our Pilot Manufacturing Research Centre and a Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator (SHED) building in Margam. We are now working with partners like Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and Bridgend County Borough Council to install our technologies in working buildings, such as schools and industrial buildings.

Active Classroom

The Active Classroom is powered by the sun and has been constructed using the latest generate, store and release technologies developed by SPECIFIC and partners. Built in just 14 weeks using a range of brand new technologies and construction methods, it will export energy to support Swansea University’s grid at times of stress.

The Active Classroom is a live demonstrator and will be monitored closely, enabling researchers to test and validate building performance in an education facility, and to see how users interact with the technology. Completed in October 2016 and located at the Swansea Bay University Campus, the building also functions as a classroom for materials science engineers so they can learn in a place that actively demonstrates the qualities of the materials that they are learning about.

Led by SPECIFIC, the Active Classroom is our latest demonstrator of building as a power station where buildings generate more energy than they require.

View Our Active Classroom Case Study

Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator (SHED)

We have another site in Margam that is used to trial large scale demonstrators. The building is a 1990’s industrial unit, which is of poor quality construction.

Solar Air Collector and Solar Store

Our first demonstrator in the SHED was a Solar Air Collector and Solar Store. A solar air collector of approximately 590m2, has been installed on the southwest facing wall of the building. Heat can be supplied directly into the building or stored in a large water tank to be used the following day.

The building was formerly heated via a gas-fired boiler, but since the solar system was installed the gas boiler has been decommissioned and no gas has been used for over four years. Now, 40% of the building’s heating comes directly from the collector and 60% comes via the solar store.

A BSRIA independent monitoring report for the period September 2012 to November 2013 stated that it "achieved a low carbon and economical heating solution", which had the "performance of a ground source heat pump with the flexibility of air source". It concluded that the solar air collector and solar store were "demonstrated to be a viable renewable heating option".

Inter-seasonal Heat Store

Our second large scale demonstrator installed in the SHED is our Inter-seasonal Heat Store. The outside of the SHED is clad in Tata Steel Colourcoat Renew TSC is perforated cladding that is fitted onto the building skin. Warm air is drawn in through the tiny holes in the steel using a fan. The excess heat is stored in a thermochemical material (SIM – Salt in Matrix). When moist air is passed over the SIM, this causes an exothermic reaction that releases the heat from the salt matrix that is used to heat the room.

View Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator (SHED) Case Study

Our First Building as a Power Station - "The Pod"

Combining all of the technologies currently under investigation at SPECIFIC, the first building as a power station allows us to showcase and test the entire ‘generate, store, release’ system as well as the individual technologies.

This demonstrator pod shows that it is possible to power and heat a building without connecting to existing services, which reduces the cost and time for installation, reduces running costs, and makes it suitable for sites with no or limited grid connection.

View Our First Building as a Power Station Case Study

Active Office Test Facility

Our Active Office is an environmentally-controlled demonstrator room, specially constructed to test active floor, wall and ceiling components that release energy through heating and lighting.

We are currently developing and testing a new type of heated floor, which is coated with our heated coating technology. The Active Office allows us to do this in a controlled environment, and provides us with a benchmark against existing underfloor heating systems.

The room is built using standard construction techniques, with known air leakage rates, and enclosed in an outer room that can be climatically controlled to mimic cooler, outdoor temperatures. Temperature and air flow are monitored throughout, providing data that is used to accurately model and prove the system.

View Active Office Case Study


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Baglan Bay Innovation Centre,
Central Avenue
Port Talbot,
SA12 7AX.

T: +44 (0)1792 606867

Content available in Welsh on request by emailing