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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/Y024060/1
Title: STREAM 2: The SWITCH to Net Zero Buildings
Principal Investigator: Worsley, Professor D
Other Investigators:
Mabbett, Professor I Wu, Professor J Guwy, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Neath Port Talbot County Net Zero Industry Wales Welsh Government
Department: College of Engineering
Organisation: Swansea University
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 09 January 2024 Ends: 08 January 2028 Value (£): 5,367,453
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
26 Jun 2023 PBIAA Interview Panel A Announced
06 Jun 2023 PBIAA Sift R1 Panel Meeting A Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The SWITCH to Net Zero Buildings supports Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council's (NPTCBC) strategy to adopt the innovative design concept of 'buildings as power stations' developed at Swansea University (SU) for both homes and non-domestic buildings.

NPTCBC's city deal project 'Homes as Powerstations' aims to future proof 10,300 properties, both new and retrofit, within 5 years by adopting net zero principles, reducing fuel poverty and the associated health implications. Demonstrating economic impacts of net zero policies, including sustainable regional supply chain growth, diversifying and integrating with existing industries; expected £251m GVA uplift; creating over 1800 skilled jobs; and £490m investment leveraged from public and private sectors over 15 years.

Uncertainties around choice, effectiveness and cost benefits of renewable energy generation, heating and energy storage effect adoption of new technologies. Significant expertise exists within the established consortium of SU, Cardiff University and the University of South Wales, that will evaluate, scenario plan, scale up and progress opportunities with civic partners (NPTCBC, the Swansea Bay City Region and Welsh Government) and the supply chain represented by Net Zero Industry Wales. Inconsistent building management systems and performance monitoring of new technologies creates further uncertainty. Consortium expertise will provide unbiased monitoring solutions to understand the effectiveness. Circular economy and sustainable building material principles will also be a key consideration. Human-centred design principles must be built technology and control systems to ensure they are appropriate and adopted. Beyond the fabric and energy systems of buildings themselves, there are broader local and regional area energy plan implications which must be modelled to provide evidence and confidence to decision making processes.

Active buildings are not designed to operate in isolation. They can use their ability to generate, store and release energy to time-shift supply and enable demand side response. They can trade energy to and from other buildings, national grid, industry or transport infrastructure. If they can locally manage peaks in demand (peak shaving) they can present a lower and more stable load to the grid, allowing centralised energy sources to focus on the demands of industrial decarbonisation (South Wales being UK's second highest emitting industrial cluster) and electrification of transport. This creates communities that are more resilient to changes in supply and demand. The supply chain for active buildings itself relies on the local foundation industries, which pay on average 28% higher than other sectors in this region of high socio-economic deprivation. Consortium expertise in multi-energy system integration can be used to assess these interactions and dependencies, creating robust and responsive services at differing scales. This systems approach allows exploration of opportunities for symbiosis across different sectors. To achieve a just transition to net zero it is critical that community involvement plays a key role in developments. Societal user acceptance expertise within the consortium covers the individual psychology of behaviour and sociology of group interactions, whilst its links to experts in narrative, culture and heritage help with storytelling.

The theme crosses all EPSRC strategic objectives and is directly aligned with strategic priority engineering net zero and themes of energy and decarbonisation as well as manufacturing the future. The consortium has strength in thematic areas of advanced materials, circular economy and digital twins. This PBIAA will enable flexible and agile deployment of resources to unblock barriers to adoption of net zero buildings in the region, with economic benefits felt here being replicable in other regions, and will enable collaborative projects with non-consortium partners across the UK.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.swan.ac.uk