Public Participation in Developing a Common Framework for the Assessment and Management of Sustainable Innovation

Glossary

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Engineering and Computing building (ECB) - Coventry University

The Engineering and Computing building (ECB) at Coventry University is more than a shiny new BREEAM excellent building. As the home of the Sustainable Building Futures project, it has been designed to be a living demonstrator to showcase good building design, environmental technologies structural engineering principles and best practice regarding the design and layout of office and learning environments.

Related sector

  • F - Construction

SI Lead organisation

Coventry University - Research and education actor ( Higher education institutions (HEI) )

www.coventry.ac.uk

SI Scope

Coventry (United Kingdom)

SI Process

Start Date: September 2012 End Date: Ongoing

The building has been completed in September 2012.

Link to H2020 SI Priorities

  • Eco-solutions to reduce raw materials use
  • Climate change adaptation solutions
  • Solutions for water imbalances

SI Type

  • Product / Process - The Engineering and Computing building (ECB) at Coventry University has been designed to be a living demonstrator to showcase good building design, environmental technologies structural engineering principles and best practice regarding the design and layout of office and learning environments. The innovative honeycomb facade is very well insulated and designed to maximise solar gain, with bespoke brise-soleil hoods built into the South facing sections. These restrict solar glare into the building during the summer months when the sun is high in the sky and channel light into the building during winter when the sun is low. This reduces the base demand for lighting and heating and gives a light and airy feel to the internal space. The internal layout is also designed around the influence of the sun. Offices, where you might sit at a desk in one position for the whole day, are located on the South side of the building so that they receive the most light and heat possible from the sun’s rays. In contrast all the large learning spaces are located on the North side as they appear naturally warmer by virtue of being occupied by large groups of students for regular short periods of time throughout the day. Corridors cost money to heat and light and are traditionally inefficient spaces that are only used for travelling through. However in the ECB they have been almost entirely replaced with wide open common areas that provide furnished break out and working spaces. These reduce energy demand by encouraging people to use the space, whilst people are free to travel to and fro amongst them. Exposed concrete is not just a style feature but an integral feature of saving energy in the building. The concrete has a high thermal mass which can be put to good use. During the winter months when the heating goes off at night the heat retained in the concrete throughout the course of the day can gradually seep out to maintain a good temperature overnight. In the morning the boilers don’t have to work so hard to obtain a comfortable temperature. In the summer months the benefits are even greater as the concrete keeps the building cool removing the need for inefficient air conditioning units. Heat is absorbed into the concrete throughout the day and at night this is driven out of the building by opening large glass vents at the top of the central atrium. In the morning the concrete is nice and cool and ready to soak up the heat of the forthcoming day. Air handling within the building has been designed so that nothing is wasted. All the heat in the stale air, driven out of the building through various ventilation shafts is recycled so that it pre-heats the air drawn into the building. This is done with a large thermal wheel that looks similar to an old fashioned waterwheel made of fabric. It captures heat from the air exhaust shaft and transfers it into the air intake. Where cross contaminated air cannot be used, for example in confined spaces such as toilets, plate heat exchangers are used to pre-heat the air intake, using otherwise wasted heat from hot water pipes. All of the heat within the central IT comms room is captured and recycled via a plate heat exchanger into the water that services the under-floor heating system on the ground floor. This system also operates the heating elements in the two main door heat curtains. A solar thermal array of evacuated tubes located on the roof, preheats the water going into the boilers thus further reducing the primary energy demand. Each glass tube has a small copper pipe along its centre which holds cold water. At the rear of each tube there is a parabolic mirror that focuses the sun’s rays on that central copper tube maximising the heat delivered to the water within it. On the roof there are also 3 types of solar panels: they contribute a little bit to provide energy in the building, but the main reason to have them is testing their performance and testing other small bits of the solar industry. Given a super insulated structure, solar optimised space design and heat recycling features, the primary heat load is very small for this size of building. The little heat that is required is generated by a biomass boiler. This uses wood pellets that are sourced and processed in the UK and delivered from a store in the West Midlands area every couple of weeks. The pellets are blown into a large galvanised 30 day storage silo and then automatically fed into the Hoval boiler by a screw auger system. The pellets are burnt so efficiently that a small ash box on the right of the unit approximately 16 inches square is sufficient to hold the waste ash and only needs emptying every couple of weeks. The remit of conserving energy in the new building extends beyond a reduction in gas and electricity demand. Water is a primary concern too. The lower wing of the building, known as the nature block, has a green roof. This is a sedum mix plantation that retains rainwater like a sponge making run off into the drainage system much slower and therefore decreasing the occurrence of flash flooding. Rain falling on the building is captured and harvested. In the main plant room a 70,000 litre tank stores and filters harvested water before it is used to flush all the toilets within the new building.
  • Service / Process - The building promotes a different concept of learning for the students: - the computer rooms are designed to be totally collaborative working spaces so sometimes it is hard to tell who the lecturer is and who the student is. They have no dedicated front and back and the facilitator can lead a session from any one of the plasma screens mounted around the perimeter walls. They can also link any of the students work to the screens and link any of the student’s screens to them to share good practice or an interesting idea; - as a learning facility all the building services are exposed and visible. This is so that students and corporate partners visiting the building can see a real life example around them. All the heating and water pipes have been labelled so that trainee mechanical engineers can compare the building plans with reality. There are glass fronted server cabinets for IT students and the loading forces have been put on the steel beams that retain the facade for the structural engineering students; - the several departments are organised in contiguous opened spaces so students from different departments can see each other work.
  • Organisational / Business model - The building promotes collaborative work: the corridors have been almost entirely replaced with wide open common areas that provide furnished break out and working spaces to reduce energy demand. This encourages people to use the common space and promotes cooperation.

SI Objectives

  • The ECB has been designed to be a living demonstrator to showcase good building design, environmental technologies structural engineering principles and best practice regarding the design and layout of office and learning environments.
  • The building itself is a learning tool to give students every possible opportunity to learn practically.
  • To promore a more collaborative way of working.

SI Origin

The ECB is part of a 3-year project partially funded by the ERDF.

SI Factors of success

  • Technological - The building uses technologies and design to reduce the demand for heating, lighting, air conditioning, electricity, water, but also to promote a more collaborative way of working and a new learning experience for the students.
  • Economic - The technologies used in the building reduce the demand for heating, lighting, air conditioning, electricity, water. Therefore the costs related to the provision of the services are lower.
  • Environmental - Everything in the building tries to reduce the demand for heating, lighting, air conditioning, electricity, water. This makes the building more sustainable as it has less impact on the environment.

Sources

  • Primary - The building is part of Coventry University and we have direct access to people involved.