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The Active Building Centre Research Programme (ABC RP)
The ABC is one of the two hubs funded through the Transforming Construction (TC) Industrial Challenge. ABC aims to revolutionise the way the UK designs, manufactures, constructs and operates buildings. The TC challenge was principally focused on meeting the targets set in the Construction 2025 strategy, namely to: reduce whole-life costs by 33%; reduce whole-life emissions by 50%; slash time from conception to completion by 50%; boost productivity by 15% close the gap with the average for the economy The ABC must first focus upon ensuring that the industry can meet the objectives of the TC Challenge listed above; whilst also working towards the wider and more long term targets faced by the industry. To achieve the government's target for net-zero by 2050 will require significant changes in how we design new buildings, how new technologies are developed and adopted, how buildings and community assets interact as part of the wider energy network, and how we approach retrofit of the existing building stock. The ABC RP is responsible for carrying out the early stage research to support the activities of the ABC RTO, with the combined mission to enable transformative change and innovation within the construction industry, and to progress a long-term pathway that ensures that the built environment is an integral part of the wider energy infrastructure. The ABC RP brings together a consortium of leading Academics, across 10 university partnerships. Combining expertise from both the built environment and energy sectors, including: architecture and design, low and zero carbon technologies, analytics and modelling, social science and human interaction, and business modelling. Typically buildings are simply consumers of energy, they can optimise their energy usage within the constraints of the building envelope, however they do not respond to, or interact with the wider energy network. As we progress towards zero carbon there will be increasing integration of renewable generation technologies within buildings, and electrification of heating through the use of heat pumps or direct electric heating. Combining this with the electrification of transport, and the increasing use of electric vehicles, has the potential to put significant additional strain on the existing infrastructure, unless we adapt how we design and control buildings in-use. By managing building loads in response to the needs of the grid, through transactive energy approaches such as demand response, or through the use of distributed generation and storage, buildings can provide benefits at a community or wider scale. For example by reducing demand or exporting to the grid at times of peak demand; providing ancillary services to the grid such as voltage and frequency response, and providing increased reliability and resilience through distribution of energy assets. To achieve a truly seamless integration of buildings within the wider energy infrastructure and enable a transactive market between buildings and the grid, which functions effectively and delivers benefits to all stakeholders whilst maintaining grid stability, presents a number of technological and legislative challenges. The ABC RP aims to tackle these and to address the following key challenges: 1) Demonstrate the benefits of ABs across building and community scales. 2) Demonstrate implementation of compact thermal storage solutions to enable effective multi-vector energy optimisation at building, community and national level. 3) Demonstrate the use of advanced controls and optimisation processes for end-use energy reduction and optimisation of energy generation and storage (electricity and heat) to meet building demand and respond to wider grid requirements. 4) Understand and define the role Active Buildings can take as energy agents at national infrastructure scale. 5) Apply [1] through [4] to the retrofit challenge.
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