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RESSEEPE Project – Sustainable Building Innovations at Coventry University – PCM

Coventry University and the RESSEEPE partners have been very busy over the past few months progressing the RESSEEPE research into the demo site activities phase.  It’s at this point where the practical end of the demonstrations is coming into action and the really exciting work is happening. Having been a part of the project since its initial practical kick off its great to see the technologies explored as a part of the project actually gong onto the buildings. Over the next few weeks a number of articles will be released discussing each of the technologies installed at Coventry University.

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PCM – Sample of the tube form unfixed and loose

The first major works at Coventry consisted of the installation of Phase Change Materials (PCM).  PCM is a passive system, which behaves similar to ice, in that the material ‘freezes’ and melts at a fixed temperature.  The PCM installed in Coventry is a S27 phase change material, which is a salt hydrate that peaks at 27oC.  In reality, the PCM may start the melting process at 25oC and be completely liquid at 29oC.  In reverse, the PCM may show signs of solidification at 29oC and be completely solid at 25oC. 

 

 

The PCM Tubes are installed and respond to the surrounding temperature of the room.  At the beginning of the day, the TubeICE are frozen.  As the room heats up due to body heat, and heat from the sun, the PCM Tubes passively cool the room by absorbing the heat until completely melted. 

PCM Passive System Throughout Day

PCM Passive System Throughout Day

The duration of the cooling effect is dependent on the intensity of the heat being absorbed.  I.e. the PCM will melt quicker if the ambient temperature in the room is 40oC compared to if the temperature is 35oC, much like a block of ice would.  As the temperature cools over night, so does the PCM.  The PCM effectively looses energy to the immediate surroundings, charging for the next day. 

 

PCM - Overnight

PCM Overnight

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PCM bracket System

One of the challenges with installation was due to the unknown entity of the PCM. A number of local contractors were approached to install but were put off by the increased risk factor when dealing with a technology which is very new. Contractors rightly so have to consider the increased level of risk and liability that they will take on when dealing with something they have little precedent or experience in handling. In reality once a contractor had been identified the installation was fairly straight forward. Certain protocols had to be adhered to such as a structural assessment of the space and an asbestos survey, both to ensure that firstly the structure could hold the increased loading of the PCM tubes and secondly to ensure that no surprises were found in regards to asbestos. Both were cleared and the installation was quick and uneventful. As can be seen from the image the PCM tubes were fixed using a standard tube fixing bracket system which was fixed to the underside of the ceiling.

PCM technology was installed within the Architecture Studio and 2 offices within the John Laing Building at Coventry University. The spaces and tubes will be energy monitored over the next year to gather full performance data, which will be objectively compared to controls rooms neighbouring the spaces. Below the PCM tube can be seen in-situ.

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PCM tube in-situ

 

PCM tube in-situ

PCM tube in-situ

Contributors – Danny McGough and PCMproducts

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RESSEEPE – Coventry University Activities

January has been a busy month for Coventry University (CU). For the latest RESSEEPE meeting CU made the trip to Skellefteå, which is one of the four demo sites within the project. The discussion of the meeting was focused around the next immediate steps to be taken. The upcoming installation phase of the project will be a critical period in which the demo sites will continue or begin to carry out the interventions upon the demo buildings. 

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Coventry’s demo and living lab activities including the Richard Crossman (RC) and John Laing (JL) buildings will revolve around a number of proved and state of the art installations. For the Richard Crossman demo building the focus will be on testing the performance of somewhat proven technologies looking to establish the impact on a building wide scale. Included within the demo site will be Photovoltaic panels on the roof, LED lighting upgrade throughout the circulation and common spaces, roof insulation improvements and high performance Windows, curtain wall system and a modern Building Management system. The focus will be on the integration of these systems to improve the overall performance of the building. Work on RC has been progressing well with the high performance Windows, curtain system and roof improvement works complete.

The John Laing building is within a slightly earlier phase of the project. Additionally the intervention strategy is taking on a greater experimental ethos with many of the interventions on the cusp of technology advancement. The technologies to be installed on John Laing include aerogel insulation embedded into a unique and innovative render application solution. Aerogel will be tested in 3 separate but localised areas on John Laing with each area having variations in specification and approach.  The strategy will be to use the variations to evaluate comparative critical impact. Phase change materials (PCM) will be implemented into 2 spaces with JL and progress is at the detailed design stage. A ventilated facade with integrated PV on the external face and vacuum insulated panels (VIP) on the inside face will be placed externally on one module of the facade.  VIP will also be tested in isolation in a separate facade module. Within a single space a combination of the technologies (VF, VIP, PV and PCM) will be tested which focusing on the combined impact of the interventions. The data from the isolated spaces will provide a set of control benchmarks with the combination space providing data for the integrated impact. The data gained from the JL interventions will be extrapolated to evaluate potential whole building impact.

Coventry University has also been working on stakeholder engagement and dissemination. As part of the construction based curriculum a group project has been established which all undergraduates will take part in. The project is focused on a scenario-based refurbishment of the John Laing building.IMG_2048 A significant criterion of the project is for students to consider the relevance and context of the RESSEEPE activities. This approach has a number of benefits for CU and the RESSEEPE project with students gaining a greater awareness of the proposed activities on the estate as well as experiencing a real life scenario based project brief.

Additional information can be fund through associated routes such:

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Whole Life Approach to BIM part 2

This is a short video I created aimed at providing an introductory awareness of BIM, from zero forwards. This particular video focus on Whole life performance and sustainability. The video was created in 2014. The work has been supported by multiple existing research and statements made by industry and academic individuals which I’ve then collated and interpreted into my own perspective.

Links to Coventry University, where we have a selection of courses that include BIM and Construction – Coventry University – School of Energy, Construction and Environment

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Sustainable Refurbishment of University Buildings

(Exercise support article) These articles are developed to support flipped learning approach.

The need for refurbishment for University buildings is becoming a common concern due to the nature of construction of many estate assets. Many University estates have a high number of Post War buildings in which the structure itself is sound, but the energy performance is suffering.

The Association of University Directors of Estate (AUDE) commissioned and published a paper titled “The Legacy of 1960’s University Buildings” which highlighted that much of the building stock held by Universities is progressively becoming out of date and unfit for purpose. The report considers “how to renew (refurbish/replace) a very large proportion of the property portfolio that was built in the 1960’s.”   A number of key challenges have been identified such as the poor performance of out-dated components, a lack of flexible functionality to spaces and a complete lack of accurate and reliable data necessary for efficient building management.

The below resources are particularly relevant to the area and can be used as flipped approach media with the supporting critical questions:

1. – A University Renovation : A Case Study – featured on ‘sustainablebuild’

http://www.sustainablebuild.co.uk/university-renovation-case-study.html

Discussion points:

  • What are the key elements of this article?
  • What are the critical consideration when pre-evaluating refurbishment opportunities?
  • Are there any similarities between this article and a local refurbishment?

2 – University buildings Pre-refurbishment – featured on BRE Group

https://www.bre.co.uk/page.jsp?id=2133

  • What are the key elements of this article?
  • Is the process of reclaiming and responsible waste management an area often forgotten?
  • Should it be adopted more?

3 –Hampshire County Council – low carbon building refurbishment

Direct link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3xdAY2wVv0

  • Have you noticed any trends in how the refurbishment was presented?
  • Who are the key stakeholders?
  • What factors should be considered during a refurbishment?

There is a consistent threads through the discussions that will be interesting to discuss the following week.

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Retrospective BIM Modelling of Buildings

Even with the challenges that are there in regards to retrospective modelling I feel the difficulties encountered in the process of actually attempting it emphasise the clear need for more efficient processes of data storage and access to building information, and isn’t that what BIM is all about? Having the information there, when you need it? Yes in this example I’m modelling a pretty old building with very outdated standards of data handover in the sixties, but the lack of available data has similarities to non-BIM’d buildings of today.

Over the past few months I’ve been extremely busy on some very innovative and intriguing projects which have been taking up a considerable amount of time, hence the lack of articles! I’ve finally had a few minutes to put aside to dedicate some time back into the site.

Over the past few 6 months I’ve been heavily involved in a European funded project Resseepe, which is focusing on the retrofit of large institutional buildings such as Universities, hospitals and schools. The project aims to establish informed and innovative solutions to optimise how we manage and develop refurbishment strategies for buildings.  Focusing not only on the innovative technologies that can be used and combined in refurbishment projects, but also on the processes and decision making procedures preceding retrofits.

The Building in Question

The Building in Question

Part of this project has led me to retrospectively ‘BIM’ modelling a large university building, around 5000m/2. Now having quite a bit of previous modelling experience I believed this would be a reasonably straight forward task. How wrong was I! Now modelling any building often takes a bit of technique refinement to get the software to do what you want, I’m talking a ‘new’ way to model a bespoke roof design, or massing a particular shape or form in a way that you haven’t done before. This kind of skills refinement is pretty normal as you progress through any existing or new software. I’ve always found that regardless of level of skill at any software with the commercial ‘new edition every year’ platform there is always something every year to brush up on. This process has been as usual invigorating, to keep pushing personal understanding and skills.

Now as I say, this level of skills evolution is normal, the real learning curve or hurdle has been the lack of available information on existing post war building stock. This is an issue that many Estates and asset management teams have to try to endeavour to overcome, in that much of the information on buildings is old, outdated and/or buried. For the building in question that I’ve been modelling there has been a close relationship with in house estates to try and muster up what information we can to give the best available current state and picture of the building. The challenge here is that this still leaves a lot of assumptions and estimations. For instance in a building designed in 1961, no one at the time considered the 3D modelling requirement of some BIM user when compiling the plans. The plans of the day were constructed with one criteria in mind; enough information to raise the building from the ground, in time and for the right money. Building handover or management was at best an afterthought, if that. In modern years the information being handed over to FM teams is greatly improving with initiatives like softlandings in the UK. Although, we don’t have to go too many years back’ looking at buildings where handover of data was an afterthought and still is in parts.  I’m thinking the rushed collection of building management and health and safety binder’s minutes before the impending deadline.

An early stage render showing BIPV refit option

Another key issue when retrospectively modelling existing stock is the accuracy of the details. In this case you can’t rely on existing original or CAD plans to hold accurate data because over
the years buildings evolve and often the records don’t show this in every detail. It may even be the case that when a plan reaches site, the detail was just not viable and the process or reality of the build altered slightly, this is where the need for ‘as built’ records derives, again this is key to BIM and softlandings. To counteract this there needs to be a process of model validation. Now this may differ slightly from the new build validation in that were not directly validating immediately against rule sets, such as in Solibri etc. The key here is to validate the accuracy of plans, CAD or assumptions so that the model is as close to ‘as-built’ as possible. Now what were encroaching into here is a level of detail aspect, much the same as any BIM new build, in that it needs to be established as to how accurate or refined does the model need to be. This all depends on what information will be required down the line, i.e. will the model be solely used for energy simulation or is there a desire to use the model for quantities asset management which will require far greater component and parametric data to be added. As with new builds, you can only draw off quality information when quality information goes into the model. There is a point where decisions have to be made on the practicalities of entering the detail and specification of every light fitting if that information is never going to be required.

Even with the challenges that are there in regards to retrospective modelling I feel the difficulties encountered in the process of actually attempting it emphasis the clear need for more efficient processes of data storage and access to building information, and isn’t that what BIM is all about? Having the information there, when you need it? Yes in this example I’m modelling a pretty old building with very outdated standards of data handover in the sixties, but the lack of available data has similarities to non-BIM’d buildings of today. The benefits that a BIM model can bring to new builds are very similar to those that are on offer in retrofit or building management. The challenge is to bridge that gap in retrospect. In years to come I envisage a FM process where it’s a lot more common for reasonably sized existing stock to be retrospectively modelled as the alternatives of traditional data management are far to cumbersome. In the case where a building retrofit is to take place I would go as far to say it’s crucial.   

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