Technology and System Performance

“Space heating accounts for 63% of UK domestic energy, but the measured thermal performance of homes is usually much worse than designed: the energy performance gap. My research is developing new ways for measuring the thermal performance of homes while occupied. I use a combination of methods, including dynamic thermal simulation, measurements in our Test Houses and field trials in real occupied homes. The work has been sponsored by the UK Research Councils and the UK Government, and it contributes to International Energy Agency’s Annex 71 and the European Committee for Standardization, CEN/TC89.”

Buildings and the people in them account for 46% of all UK energy use and 72% of end-use CO2 emissions. Any future, low-carbon energy system is cheaper and less complex if energy demand is reduced. Meeting our carbon reduction targets is impossible unless buildings convert to clean energy for heating and cooling. Our research has examined how we design, build, and operate buildings so they use less energy, more efficiently and with less pollution.

  • Off-site construction is seen as one route to lower cost, higher quality and more energy efficient buildings. But replacing traditional construction with factory produced alternatives may simply create new, unforeseen problems. Site surveys and monitoring has measured the energy demands and environmental conditions in low and medium rise modular apartment buildings.
  • The energy demand of buildings is often much greater than predicted; the so called performance gap. New dwellings may not achieve the CO2 limits imposed by the building regulations and refurbishments underperform. Research which combines field measurement, full scale experimentation and modelling is developing ways of measuring the actual heat loss of UK dwellings.
  • Energy management is essential to reduce unnecessary waste. The large and complex energy systems in industrial buildings harbour numerous energy vampires, malfunctioning components and ineffective controls. New, self-diagnosing building management systems are being developed which can detect faults and direct facilities managers to the source of the problem.

Our ability to address these matters is enabled by our ability to employ a diverse range of research techniques: field trials, monitoring, full-scale experimentation and modelling. The research is enabled by funding from central government, stakeholder partners and the UK research councils.