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.


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


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.


PCM tube in-situ


PCM tube in-situ

PCM tube in-situ

Contributors – Danny McGough and PCMproducts


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. 


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:


BIM in a Whole Life Concept

(Exercise support content contained in this article. These articles are developed to support flipped learning approach so some comments are present to direct higher education discussion)

A better understand of BIM considers BIM beyond the concept and design phase of a project. BIM utilised to its best opportunity will consider the whole life of a building, asset or project. The BIM package or Asset Information Model (AIM) can be harnessed to facilitate better data management and data access not only for the design and construction phase but additionally the client and asset/facilities management phase of ownership. And once the building comes to end of life the AIM provides the opportunity to harness valuable asset data to ensure a better informed reuse or demolition phase. This whole life instills a circular strategy in the utilisation of the BIM or AIM.

Flipped session:

Watch these two videos


  • Consider the impact of BIM during the refurbishment of a building or project
  • What are the potential benefits in using or BIM as a process in refurbishment?
  • What are the potential benefits of having an AIM model in regards to the whole life of a building?
  • What specific information could be utilised in the Opex (operational expense, operational expenditure) or ongoing running costs phase of a project by building management teams?
  • What is more important reducing Capex or reducing Opex costs and how does the impact differ depending on stakeholder standpoint?
  • From the videos what impact does a whole life approach have on data retention?
  • What are the issues with multiple sources of information? (The Crossrail article refers to a ‘single source of truth’)
  • Considering previous flipped content on recycling of waste how can an AIM support the process?
  • If using BIM in the future what aspects would you adopt to assist you in a refurbishment project?



The Misconceptions of BIM

(Exercise support content contained in this article. These articles are developed to support flipped learning approach so some comments are present to direct higher education discussion)

The reach a summary singular definition for BIM is extremely difficult.  There is a mass of differing definitions, perspectives and approaches than can often be valuable when understanding BIM however a number may have the opposite effect. Reaching a consensus amongst the informed masses on BIM is gaining momentum with greater awareness on BIM being demonstrated and recorded across the AEC industry.

An early stage render showing BIPV refit optionMany not so useful definitions, or maybe better termed assumptions exist such as BIM is purely about the 3D model. This was the common misconception of BIM in the early years but hopefully it’s a misinterpretation that we have or are very near to moving beyond. Another assumption similar to the above is that BIM is solely a technical process, assuming that once the tech is in place we can push the magic BIM button and the design appears at an instant. A better understanding of BIM is aware that BIM goes beyond the technology aspects and draws together a combination of the people, technology, process and policy. It is within this BIM quartet of factors that personally I find BIM clearer defined. BIM or useful and successful adoption of BIM requires the BIM quartet of factors to be considered and aligned appropriately. The technology on its own can not navigate a team for a BIM project. The technology is simply a support tool within the process.

Likewise process implementation such as proper planning support documents, regulations and protocols such as the PAS 1192, BIM protocol, Implementation and execution plans are crucial to successful adoption. Prudent industry representatives are buying into this factor and learning from the early mistakes made by many AEC organisations in the like of purchasing waves of technology with no real consideration to the process and cultural change required. Which as you can imagine leads to expensive no return ventures into the world of proprietary software choices. Proper process planning leading into organisational BIM adoption like wise to project BIM adoption helps to support and smooth the process. Having experienced BIM adoption in projects for retrofit, without adequate process and cultural planning the wasted workload, time and costs are clear to see. It would be wrong to state adequate process and organisational planning clears the path for assumed success, however it defiantly supports towards successful adoption.pas 1192 use

And finally the consideration of the people within the BIM adoption process. This factor, i.e. The directors and the users etc. cannot be underestimated. Disgruntled and unhappy adopters will only leads to negativity within the process. This negativity leads to essential BIM corners being cut. Some processes within BIM clearly save time from the outset however others such as the understanding and awareness of new software take some investment. It’s this need for investment from users that can often put many off and leads to the anti-BIM reactions, which it could be argued are not solely tied to the genuine known or agreed shortfalls of BIM but instead are incarnations of the reluctance to change.

In summary, one perspective of BIM is that BIM isn’t a newfound tool, nor simply a newfound process but rather it is the adoption of existing best practices which already exist within industry with a twist of ‘new’ enabling tools to facilitate the process. It’s making the information available when you need and want it and is naturally encouraging positive collaboration. The technologies and processes provide a modern and 21st century infrastructure to support this best practice.


Flipped classroom considerations:

Also watch the external videos below by the B1M team

What is a “BIM Model”? | The B1M –

All credit for the below video goes to the team at B1M which can be found at the following website; Permission has been sort and provided by Fred Mills of B1M to embed his material on this site with credit forwarded.

Imagine (what BIM could do) | The B1M

Discussion points:

  • What misconceptions have you heard or perceived yourself prior to reading further into BIM?
  • Do you see BIM as a useful tool or another forced process or hoop you have to jump through?
  • Consider how BIM can be used to reduce waste, such as time, cost and material waste.
  • What impact will BIM have on improvements within energy performance?
  • Considering the quartet of factors discussed above how do each of these factors differ from each other?
  • What are the key success factors of each of the 4 factors




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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