LCBE's SBEC centre, based in Tata Steel’s Shotton works in North Wales, was unveiled in 2011.
It was constructed with funding from the Welsh Government and Tata Steel to accelerate the development of low and zero carbon solutions for the built environment using steel in combination with other materials.
SBEC was designed to be a showcase for sustainable products and used to test and monitor new integrated heating, energy and ventilation systems on the fabric of the building.
The teams aimed to create a construction process which would enable the façade of buildings - both roof and walls - to be transformed from a passive energy conservation role to an active energy generation, storage, dissipation and management function.
Since its construction, the LCBE and Tata steel teams, headed by SBEC Director Daniel Pillai of Tata Steel, have developed and commercially launched two products at the SBEC centre: an active solar air heating device (based on Transpired Solar collector technology), and a frameless, lightweight PV module, bonded directly to the pre finished metal roof.
The teams have also completed the development of design software, design and a best practise guide, including the web based feasibility tool to assess energy delivered, CO2 saved and financial payback. This will enable future architects to design and specify buildings using this technology, to help deliver low to zero carbon buildings.
Daniel said “Over the last 2 years, we have worked hard to develop these technologies, and also to bring on the supply chain capable of executing the projects. This has included not only manufacturing companies producing the collectors but also liaising with installers. We have built a number of pilot projects to prove these technologies in operation and in the process further enhanced their performance.”
“The unique position of SBEC and its industrial partnership with the supply chain enables this end to end capability necessary to accelerate the uptake of new technologies, particularly in a conservative construction industry.”
Looking forward, Daniel was very optimistic of the low temperature thermal storage devices, both diurnal and inter-seasonal being worked on, and their ability to meet most if not all the space heating requirements.