Prototype Zero Energy Laboratory

School of the Environment: Architecture & Planning / School of Engineering, Physics and Mathematics

The ‘Energy Autonomous Studio’ is a zero-energy, self-sufficient demonstrator prototype. Located in the University Botanical Gardens this self-build project was developed by the Department of Architecture’s Macro Micro, MArch unit and MSc student research projects in Civil Engineering, Physics and Applied Computing.Image of the Macro Micro Building

The Macro Micro Building

A consortia of over 50 manufacturers and suppliers was brought together to provide specialist know-how, donation of in-kind materials and components and expertise in the installation and implementation of technical systems. Construction commenced in January 2013 and the prototype has recently been completed to wind, water tight and internal fit-out stage. Over the next six months it will be instrumented to capture data on environmental performance, energy generation and storage and user behaviour.

The data will give a measure of the efficacy of producing ultra-low and ‘off-grid’ buildings powered and heated by renewable energy alone in the context of the UK’s strategy for a low-carbon and renewable energy generation future.

We plan to investigate a range of technical and social challenges related to the generation and use of energy from intermittent renewable sources (PV and wind) in autonomous low-energy, high solar gain buildings):

For example:

  • How accurate are Passivhaus calculations?
  • How many days per year is power unavailable?
  • How much power can be exported over a year?
  • How do users react to constraints on power availability?
  • Can predictive methods assist in power management?

Interior and exterior views of the building