Research project

Macromicro Studio

Prototype zero energy laboratory

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Start date

January 2013

Completion date

May 2013

The 'Energy Autonomous Studio' is a zero-energy, self-sufficient laboratory. It is an example of a demonstrator prototype. The project was led, in 2012, by Dr Neil Burford. The development of the project combined the work of the Department of Architecture's Macromicro MArch unit, along with MSc research projects in Civil Engineering, Physics and Applied Computing.

Over 50 manufacturers and suppliers provided specialist expertise and donation of materials. Construction commenced in January 2013. In the six months after construction, we captured data on:

  • environmental performance
  • energy generation
  • storage
  • user behaviour

The data allowed us to measure how well 'off-grid' buildings work on renewable energy alone. This is particularly important in the context of the UK’s strategy for a low-carbon, renewable energy generation future.

We also investigated a range of technical and social challenges related to generating and using energy. The renewable sources we used were photovoltaics (PV - also known as solar panels) and wind. This allows us to ask the following questions:

  • 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?