Increasingly strict targets on carbon emissions and the introduction of the government's new 'Feed-in Tariff are set to change the way in which buildings in the UK are designed. In this context, Leicester's new Gateway College is an indication of what we may expect from the dawning of what Schueco UK describes as the age of solar architecture.
The college, one of the most sustainable buildings in the UK, designed by Nightingale Associates, features a number of different green technologies, most noticeably a large, BIPV-enabled facade constructed by glazing and facade specialist, Norking Aluminium Ltd.
Set immediately above the main entrance, this comprises 79sqm of Schueco polycrystalline PV panels set into a Schueco FW60+ curtain walling system. Each 38mm PV unit comprises a 16mm outer leaf made up of 8mm clear HST (thermally toughened) glass, a 2mm layer of PV cells and a further 6mm clear HST.
In addition to generating energy, the dense arrangement of Schueco PV modules has a secondary purpose: in combination with the solar control glazing, the array helps to limit solar gain on this elevation. The Schueco brise soleil system, designed and suspended on stainless steel rods tied back to the curtain walling by Norking Aluminium, performs the same function on the south-facing treble height street.
Gateway College has also been equipped with a 15m wind turbine. The turbine and the Schueco BIPV installation complement each other well and combined with a biomass boiler, natural ventilation, 'intelligent' lighting and a rainwater harvesting system, are part of a concept of 'visible sustainability' designed to encourage students to adopt a proactive approach to environmental issues.
An LCD display in the main atrium records and monitors the ongoing performance of the PV modules and the wind turbine; when the students are away during vacations, surplus power is regularly exported to the National Grid to minimise the colleges overall energy costs. The college has an energy performance score of 28 (an ordinary similar-sized building would typically score 46) and annual CO2 emissions of just 17.3kg/m2. It is anticipated that the Schueco BIPV installation will provide an overall financial return of 7 8%.