What Are Active Buildings?

An Active Building is described as “a building that supports the wider grid network by intelligently integrating renewable energy technologies for heat, power and transport.” It also has six core principles:

  • Building fabric and passive design
  • Energy efficient systems
  • On-site renewable energy generation
  • Energy storage
  • Electric vehicle integration
  • Intelligently managed integration with micro-grids & national energy network

A single Active Building combines a range of integrated renewable energy technologies, which work together in one system to generate, store and release heat and electricity.

Therefore, using data from the building, the national grid and electric vehicles, the system can manage and optimise energy performance.

Conversely, although Active Buildings can be self-sufficient, they are not designed to operate in isolation. In fact, they use their ability to generate and store energy to exchange or trade with other buildings, the national grid or electric vehicles. This creates communities of energy that are more resilient to sudden changes in supply or demand.

How do Active Buildings benefit consumers and society?

  • Firstly, reduced energy consumption – independent modelled has shown they can reduce consumption by about 60% for the average UK home.
  • Secondly, lower fuel bills – the same modelling demonstrated that fuel bills could be reduced by over £600 for the average UK home.
  • Lower carbon emissions.
  • Energy independence – building owners and users are able to have control of their own supply. This leads to less dependence on national networks and fosters corporate, political and economic stability.
  • A flat load profile – which promotes grid stability.
  • And finally, the opportunity for demand side response or energy balancing services (i.e. the ability to respond quickly to unexpected events in the national electricity network)

The Active Buildings ‘Toolkit’ by Design Manager, Joanna Clarke:

SPECIFIC’s Design Manager, Joanna Clarke, is currently developing an ‘Active Buildings Toolkit’ as part of her doctoral research project (D.SBE). Therefore, if you’d like to understand the Active Buildings concept and design philosophy further, please explore the documents below:

Additionally, the following documents will be coming soon:

  • The complete Active Building Design Guide.
  • Case Studies for the Active Classroom and Office.
  • RIBA Plan of Work Checklists for Active Buildings.
  • Active Building project templates, code of conduct and technology showcase.
  • And finally, an Active Building process flow diagram.

In the meantime, check out Joanna’s weekly blog here: https://designingactivebuildings.blog/