Comfort, Health and Wellbeing

“Summertime heating kills 2000 annually in the UK. This could rise to over 7000 by 2050 as the climate warms. My recent research has been about overheating in UK homes, which homes overheat, by how much do they overheat and which sectors of society suffer? We have collected new, large datasets and analysed secondary data as well as conducted experiments in our test houses. Numerous academic papers and subsequent TB and radio appearances have raised awareness of the problem. New guidelines and standards have emerged.”

We spend over 80% of our lives indoors so the quality of the indoor environment is crucial to our comfort, health and well-being. Our buildings need heating, cooling, ventilation lighting and power, but we must provide these effectively and efficiently, to achieve the conditions wanted by all members of society. Our research projects have addressed this challenge.

  • As our cities grow, as the climate warms and as our buildings become more energy efficient, summertime overheating in our homes is increasing. Our research has identified the problem, asked if we can reliably predict which homes will overheat and which won’t, and contributed to new guidelines and standards.
  • Smart heating controls can save energy by heating individual rooms to the correct temperature only when occupied. But how much energy can be saved, is thermal comfort provided and how easy are these controls to use? Our modelling, experiments and field trials have examined these issues.
  • Ventilation of school classrooms is essential to prevent the build-up of CO2 which hinders students’ ability to think and learn. Our research has examined the design of windows and innovative ventilation systems toassure an adequate, well-distributed supply of fresh air.
  • Fuel poverty, caused by low incomes and rising fuel prices, leads to cold, mouldy and unhealth housing. Improvements to the energy efficiency of homes enables the most vulnerable in society to heat their homes adequately. But how do we effectively insulate old homes without precipitating new, unintended, consequences?

Many of these problems lie at the intersection of professional and academic disciplines, but our multi-disciplinary research teams are uniquely capable of bringing new perspectives and insights.