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First In Class

Dr Khalil Khan
8 December 2016

The Active Classroom

In November metal delivered the first ever course to be taught in Specific’s Active Classroom, a brand new facility showcasing the concept of buildings as power stations.

The Active Classroom has green eco credentials at its core, it uses renewable technology that is available on the market to produce and store energy so that it becomes a self- sustaining building.

The new facility utilises flexible solar panels that have been laminated to the sheet steel roof and connected to battery storage banks. The battery bank is a sodium-ion based technology and benefits include chemical & electrical stability and longevity. With clever electronics to control the charging and utilization of electrical energy generated. The exterior facade is mostly usual steel cladding with two interesting areas. One exterior wall is a living wall, promoting growing of herbs and various plants and another a transpired solar collector (TSC). An ingenious design of sheet steel that has been carefully coated with a paint system containing pigments that absorbs near infrared radiation generated by the sun. This TSC allows the heating of the interior of the new facility by supplying fresh warm air promoting healthy internal space. The floor of one of the two classrooms housed within the facility has a special coating that provides additional heat when a current is applied from electrical energy either generated or stored. The common space for informal meeting and tea-coffee amenities is a soothing relaxing environment boasts materials that have been recovered, recycled and repurposed for example the work tops are made from recycled plastics.

Such a concept can and will easily transition to buildings of the future where the materials used are easily recycled and during its life time will have positive environmental contribution.

The long term vision for the classroom is that it will generate enough power to sustain a number of classrooms plus kitchen and bathroom facilities and will be used both for Industrial partners and Swansea University students throughout the year.

Delivering our Design for Reliability course in the Active Classroom proved a great success, below are some of the comments of the participants:

  • • The building is inspiring and makes you think about design and the environment
  • • Impressive use of renewable technology
  • • Interesting concepts
  • • Good design of the building and it is good to see the eco credentials of the building and the way it is trying to be self sufficient
  • • Great venue showing different concepts of green energy
  • • Lovely facility, great design feels very fresh and modern

The lecturers also found the teaching space very good, commenting:

• The active classroom is a fresh new space; we utilized the smaller of the two teaching spaces. The facilities design is well suited for teaching purposes. The facility is spacious light and airy stimulating overall positive feeling. Numerous earth friendly technologies demonstrated working in perfect harmony make the classroom(s) an exciting learning space.

This active classroom is a marvel and credit to the SPECIFIC team and partners, to learn more you can view a case study on the Active Classroom or visit the SPECIFIC website.