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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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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

Discussion:

  • 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?

 

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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 Drainage Systems for Green Roofs – SUDS

This week’s article is a follow up to the previous article on green roofs looking at SUDS. Within the ‘To Green or Not to Green?’ article I mainly asked the question of why are we not using green roofs more often within our urban landscapes, the main focus was on the aesthetics qualities of green roof as well as the benefits in regards to well-being. This time around I will be focusing more on the technical aspects, in particular the Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems, otherwise known as SUDS.

Sustainable drainage systems can be incorporated into our urban landscape in a multiple of ways such as through green roofs, permeable pavements, rainwater harvesting, infiltration trenches, infiltration basins and many more. Green roofs can be extremely useful in reducing the amount of rainwater run-off especially in urban environments where much of the area is often hard surfaced which in consequence creates stormwater management issues within our urban landscapes. One solution to this issue can be through specifying and installing SUDS into our urban systems. If SUDS are is integrated into a green roof the benefits are numerous. Not only can it improve the aesthetics of an area as discussed in my previous article on green roofs, it can also brighten up the grey drab urban landscapes many of us are subjected too. Further benefits can be gained through improving environmental and drainage system management in technical terms as the plant species and substrate held on a green roof will naturally absorb rainfall thus reducing run-off into man made drainage systems considerably.

www.gardenvisit.com green roof suds

www.gardenvisit.com

As there are on occasion, limited or no natural stormwater management systems in urban areas most if not all of the rainwater runoff has to be managed by manmade systems, these systems can become overloaded at times of small and large events (storms or heavy rain). Green roofs can provide a double edged solution to help reduce this issue.  As stated in the Green Roof Guidelines (2012) “Once a green roof has established, both peak flow rates and total runoff volume of rainwater from the roof are significantly reduced compared to a conventional roof.”

Green roofs are particularly efficient at reducing rainwater run-off when encountering small events (light rain) but are less effective at times of larger events (heavy rain/storms).  According to CIRIA in (2007), green roofs will reduce the annual volume of rainwater run-off by between 50% and 85%! The variation in the percentages is down to the variations which can be found in the construction of the SUDS green roof, which as you can imagine are vast.  But if were to take those figures as an average that’s a reduction of 67.5% in rainwater run-off! That’s a significant amount.  Even when a SUDS green roof becomes saturated it still has beneficial affects as the run-off is at least slowed down through having to pass through the drainage systems, vegetation and substrate.

To understand exactly how a green roof can reduce rainwater run-off it is important to understand the process of evapotranspiration in SUDS systems. When a green roof is exposed to a small event, much of the rainfall which falls on the roof is captured by the substrate, the drainage layer and also upon the surface of the plants and vegetation.  A large amount of the rainfall which is held on the green roof, through the process of evapotranspiration is generally removed.  The rainwater that is absorbed and passes through the vegetation and substrate layer and then runs off will have reduced pollutants as much of it will be removed through the natural filtration process as it passes through the layers of the roofs. That nature and passive design at its best doing all the work for you!

Sourced form- Google Images

Sourced form- Google Images

So as I talked about earlier a green roof can significantly help to reduce rainwater run-off and thus reduce the pressure on man-made drainage systems which in turn reduces the peak flow rates by reducing the volume of total rainwater run-off.  The amount of rainwater which will run-off a SUDS green roof is dependent on the construction type used which as touched on earlier can have many variables such as; the depth of the substrate, the type of vegetation, the specification of the drainage layer and of course the local weather. According to the Green Roof Centre of research (2012), run-off can be prevented from all rainfall events up to 5mm. Further figures from the same source state that, “In summer, green roofs can retain 70–80% of rainfall and in winter they retain 10–35% depending on their build-up”. The variation between the two seasonal periods is due to the higher intensity of winter rainfall and the reduction in evapotranspiration by the vegetation, which in essence is the process when the water retained in the SUDS systems and evaporates as I discussed earlier.

Now believe me many lucky people may not see this factor as an issue, which in many cases it may not, however when you live in a built up urban area and you leave your front door to casually make your way to work, with a well thought out length of time allocated for your morning journey only to realise that with a shock the whole walkway is blocked due to the ‘gentle’ waterway that usually presides 50 metres from you path has now burst its banks and completely flooded your route the issue become a more pressing concern!

www.susdrain.org.jpg SUDS green roof

www.susdrain.org.jpg

Now over the last two articles I’m not out right stating that green roofs are perfect for every case, what I’m eluding to is that under the right circumstances green roofs are a viable if not extremely beneficial specification.  Some of the concerns or issues which should be understood when fully assessing the viability of green roofs and SUDS include the on-going maintenance which a green roof will require. For extensive green roofs it would be minimal, annual maintenance would suffice after the first few years bedding in period has passed (which many companies generally provide as part of the installation costs). However intensive green roofs do require some more regular maintenance, such as planting bedding plants and maintaining the removal of weeds etc. so additional costs have to be accounted for over the whole life of the roof. If the right vegetation is selected the maintenance levels can be reduced as many types such as wildflowers will naturally look after themselves.

Looking at the whole picture there are multiple benefits to green roofs and SUDS such as reducing the rainwater run-off, improving the energy performance of buildings and improving the biodiversity of our habitats. Yes there may be additional costs through increased set up and maintenance costs but much of that can be offset if you look at the whole lifecycle cost of the roof.  Aiming for a reduction in pollution and an improved low impact and sustainable environment, in spite of the recent recession should still be a topic that we as responsible inhabitants of our landscape should continue to drive towards.  My hope is that with the obviously needed cutbacks and austerity measures that this ethos isn’t cast aside for cheap, bottom line construction. 

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