System First

2 min read

Partners: Nottingham University and Roger Bullivant Ltd

Ask anyone in the construction industry about foundations, and they will tell you that they are the most important part of a building. Yet when it comes to reducing energy in the built environment, foundations have, up until now, been overlooked.

‘The project has the potential to change building practice in foundation structures,’ explained Riffat. ‘Embodied carbon is now a important issue affecting decision making in the construction sector and the technology developed under this project not only complies with future requirements in this area but extends the role of foundation structures from their traditional function as a passive element of building design to a working component of building occupancy.’

Nottingham has contributed to the project in terms through design work for the heat pump and solar roof. Roger Bullivant has provided significant expertise in developing the System First and pile technology in a partnership with the University that has spanned over 12 years. As a result of the collaboration, students have had the opportunity to be at the forefront of innovative commercial activities and the practical application of sustainable technologies in the built environment.

The technology, claims Riffat, showcases the best in British engineering talent. ‘I feel quite sad about the situation in the UK, because when I exhibit in various places I look around and all the technology seems to made in Germany or in China and unfortunately very few UK companies are making things. So this is a very good example of how the UK can make things, and we’re proud of that achievement.’

It is anticipated that tens of thousands of these foundation systems could be installed each year and the resultant wide scale use of ground source heat will lead to a dramatic reduction in heating supplied by gas boilers. The electrical energy required to operate the ground source heat pump would be offset by local renewable electricity generation. The processes involved are simple to replicate and the technology could be utilised anywhere in the world.

‘We have completed the foundation system testing and have several demonstration,’ said Riffat. ‘Bullivant has tried to use the technology abroad, we don’t want to constrain it to just the UK, we’re talking about a world wide roll out…Roger is 72 years old now, and I know for him this project is a dream come true. After all this time working in foundations, and focusing on sustainability, this is a major thing.’

Roger Bullivant has invested over £1.5m in the project which has received further funding of two EPSRC grants each of £120,000, a Knowledge Transfer Partnerships grant of £128,009 and an East Midlands Development agency grant £18,000 have been awarded for this research. Other companies involved include Metrotile, Rehau, Ice Energy and Hydratech.

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