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13 February 2007 PR 07/14

Loughborough University to help build tomorrow’s world

Loughborough University has been selected to take part in a new project aiming to create a European construction industry capable of building the ‘homes and offices of tomorrow’.

The €17.5 million I3CON (Industrialised, Integrated, Intelligent Construction) project brings together 26 partners from 14 countries, including the University’s European Union Research Group (EURG), based in the Department of Civil and Building Engineering. Loughborough is the only UK university involved in the project.

I3CON will apply innovative construction and production technologies to enable the development of a sustainable and environmentally friendly construction industry that can deliver the ‘intelligent’ buildings of the future. These buildings will be flexible with adaptable spaces that are able to monitor their own environments, using less energy and producing less waste. Using rapid manufacturing (see notes to editors) and other state-of-the-art production technologies they will have services, such as electricity, communications and plumbing, already built into the structure, streamlining the entire construction process.

Dr Tarek Hassan, who is leading Loughborough’s involvement in the project, said: “Traditionally when a new building is put up, the shell is erected and then everything else is added in after. This project aims to change that entire process, in the way buildings are made and how they interact with occupants. These ‘smart’ buildings will also have in-built intelligence. Based on various occupant profiles, the buildings will know if the temperature needs to go up or down without anyone having to flick a switch, or if the lights need to go on or off – making them more efficient, better for the environment and improving the productivity and quality of life of the occupants. They will also be cheaper and quicker to build, and cost significantly less to maintain.”

To achieve these goals the I3CON approach will use industrially produced building components, integrated processes and intelligent building systems, including distributed control systems with embedded sensors, wireless connections, ambient user interfaces and autonomous controllers. I3CON buildings will also be constructed using high thermal capacity materials and controllable glazing to optimise energy consumption and waste production. The underlying new business model will create incentives for all stakeholders towards the long-term performance of the building.

Loughborough has a major role to play in the project, identifying stakeholder requirements, researching new space concepts and solutions, and developing innovative production methods for building components. The University team is also planning to help demonstrate the results of the project in a real building that will be created in Madrid.

Dr Hassan added: “I am delighted to secure a key role for Loughborough in this unique project. I3CON will pave the way for ultra high performance buildings, delivered faster and cheaper in the foreseeable future, with significant lifecycle cost reductions and savings in repair and maintenance, together with enhanced comfort and security.

Ends

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Notes to editors

  1. Rapid Manufacturing allows physical parts to be created immediately, directly and automatically from a 3D representation, known as a 3D computer-aided-design (CAD) model. It works by breaking down a 3D model into 2D sections which are built up layer by layer by high tech machines.

    The I3CON project budget comprises a €9.5 million grant from the European Commission and €8 million from industry across Europe.

    The project is due to last 48 months and is funded under the umbrella of the Nanotechnology and nanosciences, knowledge-based multifunctional materials and new production processes and devices (NMP) Priority of the European Commission’s Sixth Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration activities, (FP6). As an Integrated Project, it includes research, development, prototyping, and demonstration in real buildings, training and education.

    The other members of the Loughborough University I3CON team are Professor Dennis Loveday, Director of the Sustainability Research School and Head of the Building Services Engineering Group, and Dr Rupert Soar, who is based in the Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, with management and technical support from Chris Carter, the EU Research Project Manager in the Department of Civil and Building Engineering.

    External consortium partners are:

    Dragados, coordinator
    Tech. Research Cent. of Finland VTT
    Loughborough University
    BSRIA
    Draaijer + Partners
    EurExcel
    EQUA Simulation
    Fraunhofer IAO
    Fläkt Woods
    Intracom
    Instapro
    Istanbul Technical University
    Jama-Ur

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    Lonix
    Martin & Martin Associates Limited
    Perspectix
    Politechnika Wroclawska
    SAES Ingenieros
    Saint-Gobain Recherche
    Thales Research and Technology
    Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
    Uponor
    University of Stuttgart
    EMVS
    Ed. Züblin AG
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  2. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough in the top five among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

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