Solcer House – Low carbon energy positive house built in Wales

The Welsh School of Architecture have designed and built Wales’ first low cost energy smart house. The Solcer House is capable of exporting more energy to the national electricity grid than it uses, in an attempt to meet tough new targets for zero carbon housing. “The UK Government – and governments across the world – has set a target of achieving zero carbon housing by 2019. This means that as an academic community we have to rise to that challenge and come-up with innovative new ways to build houses of the future” according to Professor Phil Jones. “Through this project we have risen to this challenge and used the latest design and technology to build Wales’/UK’s first smart energy positive house,” he added.


Designed and constructed as part of the SOLCER project, the Solcer House’s unique design combines, for the first time, renewable energy supply, thermal and electrical energy storage and reduced energy demand; to create an energy positive house.

The design of the SOLCER House is unique in that it uses a number of technologies and design approaches from Wales. Ester Coma, Solcer House architect, emphasises: “The components of the building have been sourced, as far as reasonably practicable, from Welsh manufacturers and installers, and will be used as a demonstration of advanced Welsh construction technologies. The low carbon systems have been designed to be affordable and replicable, for small to medium size enterprises, using market available technologies. This systems approach aims to use a very low amount of energy to provide a comfortable environment for building occupants”.

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In order to drastically reduce the energy demand, the house was built with high levels of thermal insulation reducing air leakage and uses an innovative energy efficient design which includes low carbon cement, structural insulated panels (SIPS), external insulated render, transpired solar collectors (TSC) and low emissivity double glazed aluminium clad timber frame windows and doors.

The house’s energy systems combine solar generation and battery storage to power both its combined heating, ventilation, hot water system and its electrical power systems which includes appliances, LED lighting and a heat pump. The TSC solar air system preheats the ventilation air, which is topped up from a thermal water store. The south facing roof comprises of glazed solar photovoltaic panels, fully integrated into the design of the building, allowing the roof space below to be naturally lit. This has been designed to reduce the cost of bolting on solar panels to a standard roof.

Solcer House was build as part of the Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI) programme. LCRI was initially set up to unite and promote energy research in Wales and to help deliver a low carbon future by uniting the diverse range of low carbon energy research across Welsh universities at Cardiff, Swansea, South Wales, Glyndwr, Bangor, and Aberystwyth working closely with industry and government.

Dr Jo Patterson, Solcer Project Manager, reports: “The Solcer project demonstrates the successful collaboration between academia, industry and government which has taken place as a result of the LCRI’s HEFCW Reconfiguration and WEFO Convergence Programmes that have been ongoing since 2005. We aim to continue these collaborations into the future to confirm Wales as a leader in low carbon technologies”.


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