Modular, offsite construction has received major recognition after SPECIFIC’s Active Office took home the first-ever Innovation in Delivering a Sustainable Education Facility Award
An energy positive, low-carbon building, dubbed the ‘Active Office’, built using offsite construction by Wernick Buildings, has been awarded a sustainability prize at this year’s Education Buildings Wales event.
The team behind the Active Office took home the first-ever Innovation in Delivering a Sustainable Education Facility Award after their commitment to sustainability throughout the build process impressed judges.
Combining a range of innovative technologies, the Active Office generates, stores and releases solar energy in one integrated system.
While the technology used in the building is cutting-edge, it is readily available to the public. Everything used for harvesting and generating power can be rolled out to schools and colleges, helping them to go “off-grid” – saving them money and reducing their carbon footprint.
The ‘buildings as power stations’ concept originated from SPECIFIC Innovation & Knowledge Centre, an academic and industrial consortium led by Swansea University, with strategic partners Akzo Nobel, NSG Pilkington, Tata Steel and Cardiff University.
SPECIFIC procured the building from Wernick Buildings – an offsite construction specialist with an 85-year history of delivering prefabricated buildings in England, Wales and Scotland.
Inception to completion of the project took eight months, which included just three weeks to manufacture the 16 modules and two days for delivery and installation of the Active Office at Swansea University’s Bay Campus, 11 miles from the Wernick factory.
“We took a fabric-first approach to reducing energy consumption,” explained Joanna Clarke, architect at SPECIFIC. Their research into building methods concluded that modular construction offered significant energy efficiencies from the start: manufacturing buildings on scale uses less power and produces less waste.
As Joanna explains, a modular solution also offered the reliability required to deliver the project on time and on budget: “The speed at which we could deliver the building using offsite construction methods was key for this project, but quality assurance also played a big factor. Offsite methods give us more consistency in the build, which is important when we’re measuring performance.”
The Active Office performance allows the building to produce enough energy during the summer to last throughout the winter and excess energy supplies power to a neighbouring building and three electric cars.
A delighted SPECIFIC team collected the trophy at the Education Buildings Wales black tie event at Cardiff University.
Joanna remarked: “This honour is a wonderful way to mark the anniversary of the Active Office’s official opening. This award recognises the efforts we are making in this field and is the result of ongoing collaborations and partnership working. We are thrilled that the judges have chosen to honour us.”
Wernick Buildings are in the process of delivering a second modular building to Swansea University’s Bay Campus: a 60-module, H-shaped teaching facility, due for completion in November 2019.
Stuart Wilkie, managing director at Wernick Buildings, added: “Education Buildings Wales opened this category for the first time this year and it is with great pride that a modular building from Wernick caught the judges’ attention. We hope this shows that modular buildings are not only a viable alternative for the education sector but a forward-looking, sustainable one too.”
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