Platform: Complex Built Environment Systems

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Graduate Studies

Abstract

CBES aims to tackle the following three main issues:1. How to design, maintain and operate the built environment while minimising the emissions of greenhouse gases. 2. How to adapt the environment, fabric and services of existing and new buildings to climate change.3. How to improve the environment in and around buildings to provide better health, comfort, security and productivity.Initially, in the 1950's and 1960's, most building science research focused on applying physics, chemistry etc to the environment in buildings. Many of the problems that can be tackled by this single discipline approach have now been solved; the key remaining problems are multi-disciplinary. Hence, Bartlett research in this area expanded to involve multidisciplinary activities across the built environment, with building scientists working closely with planners, architects etc. In the 1980's and 1990's, much of this work still relied on individual disciplines using existing tools and techniques from their own discipline by simply applying them along with tools from other disciplines. More recently, the strategic direction of CBES has been shaped by the necessity for a truly multidisciplinary approach. The development of CBES is therefore very much in line with the recent key recommendation of the Second International Review of Engineering that academia, industry and government develop strategies to encourage increased linkage of engineering research to more basic mathematical, physical, chemical and biological sciences, so that scientific and engineering discoveries may stimulate even more and broader discoveries and their applications. The strategic development of CBES rests upon two key factors:1. The identification and development of innovative opportunities to advance academic and industrial collaboration beyond the traditional territories of the Built Environment. The group is already taking an international lead in work involving significant breakthroughs in health, energy and conservation issues related to environment in buildings. Its success in developing this multidisciplinary approach has been rewarded through increased and more diverse research funding (4.4M since 2000, 56% EPSRC funded). CBES have already developed a unique set of interdisciplinary projects, working with acarologists, epidemiologists, sociologists, chemists and conservators, in institutions across the UK and worldwide. However, there is considerable potential for new projects working with clinicians, climate physicists, neurologists, electrical engineers, nano-technologists, economists and crime scientists to tackle key questions which determine the physical environment in and around buildings. Working with these disciplines is vital in order to tackle such key problems as the impact that climate change is having on the urban heat island and environmental control in buildings, how occupants interact with the built environment to control and adapt their environment, how we neurologically assess the lit environment within buildings and the impact that the built environment is having on health.2. The development of the required theoretical cross disciplinary techniques to undertake these new challenges. CBES aims to work with the most appropriate discipline specialists and to provide the most appropriate techniques for solving the practical problems facing the built environment. For example, CBES feels there is considerable potential to adapt epidemiological techniques for the building stock as a whole. Also developments in complexity theory are applicable to many of the research challenges the research group is currently studying but so far have not been applied to these areas.If CBES is to fully achieve its planned strategic development, Platform funding is required to provide a step change in the way it undertakes research and works with new disciplines.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description The co-benefits of climate change mitigation strategies - The Lancet studies
A. Key academic findings/innovation: The threat of climate change has generated a global flood of policy documents, suggested technical fixes, and lifestyle recommendations. One widely held view is that their implementation would prove socially uncomfortable and economically painful. But as work by CBES in collaboration with International teams of researchers showed, for UK housing interventions, the magnitude and even direction of health effects depend on how energy efficiency measures are implemented and maintained.

B. Key academic outputs:
1. Wilkinson P., Smith K. R., Davies M., Adair H., Armstrong B., Barrett M., Bruce N., Chalabi Z., Haines A., Hamilton I., Oreszczyn T., Ridley I., Tonne C., (2009), Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: household energy, The Lancet, 374 (9705), pp.1917 - 1929.
2. Haines A., McMichael A. J., Smith K. R., Roberts I., Woodcock J., Markandya A., Armstrong B., Campbell-Lendrum D., Dangour A., Davies M., Bruce N., Tonne C., Barrett M., Wilkinson P. et al, (2009), Public health benefits of strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions: overview and implications for policy makers, The Lancet. 374 (9707), pp 2104-2114.

C. Key impact: The series informed negotiations at the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director Margaret Chan and the US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius all sent statements of support to acknowledge the global significance of the project at the launch of its findings. The methodology was used in work by CBES to inform the Building Regulations and we are currently engaged in discussions with DECC with regards to using the methods to evaluate the cost/benefit of government policies such as 'Warm Front'.

D. How the Platform grant contributed to the case study: The Lancet studies required multi-disciplinary collaboration and the Platform Grant enabled such links to be developed and nurtured. Via 4 months' bridging funding for Ian Hamilton, one of the key researchers for this project, the Platform helped UCL strengthen links with the team of epidemiologists led by Paul Wilkinson at LSHTM and so develop critical new methodologies.

Understanding climate change impact on cultural heritage - The Noah's Ark project

A. Key academic findings/innovation: The tension between drying flooded historic buildings and their conservation has been the subject of long debate. Views have polarised around whether rapid drying to bring buildings back to use for economic, health and social reasons would cause long-term deterioration. With climate change predicted to increase damage to fragile structures from increased flooding, modelling work by CBES as part of the EU funded Noah's Ark project has demonstrated the effect of forced drying on saturated wooden buildings and how dangerous moisture gradients develop.

B. Key academic outputs:
1. Sabbioni C., Brimblecombe P., Cassar M., (2010), The Atlas of Climate Change Impact on European Cultural Heritage, Anthem Press: London and NY, pp. 146.
2. Sabbioni C., Cassar, M., Brimblecombe, P., Tidblad, J., Kozlowski, R., Drdácký, M., Saiz-Jimenez, C., Grøntoft, T., Wainwright, I., Ariño, X., (2006) Global climate change on built heritage and cultural landscapes in Heritage, Weathering and Conservation (R. Fort, M. Alvarez de Buergo, M. Gomez-Heras, C. Vazquez-Calvo, Editors), London, Taylor & Francis Group, pp. 395-401.

C. Key impact: The final project report informed the findings of the European Parliament Temporary Committee on Climate Change with oral evidence at the thematic session on 'Climate Impact of Different Levels of Warming' (2007). The Noah's Ark project was awarded the European Union (EU) Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards 2009 Grand Prize for Research. With the support of the EU and industry, the key research findings have been published worldwide as 'The Atlas of Climate Change Impact on European Cultural Heritage Scientific Analysis and Management Strategies' (2010).

D. How the Platform grant contributed to the case study: Complex interdisciplinary collaboration was required for this work and this was facilitated by the Platform Grant via the provision of 7 months' bridging funding for Phil Biddulph - a physicist with expertise in relevant software development. This allowed groundbreaking development of critical new research tools.

Box 3: Energy and Buildings: Party wall heat loss twice that of external wall
A. Key academic findings/innovation: Heat loss through party walls has been traditionally ignored in domestic energy calculations and Building Regulations. Yet Professor Robert Lowe, working with colleagues at Leeds Metropolitan University, has shown that heat loss into the attic via the cavity party wall can be as large as 2 to 3 times greater than a building regulations compliant external wall. This means the party wall can be the largest mechanism of heat loss for a new terraced house, and that a terraced house will use more energy for heating than an equivalent detached house.

B. Key academic outputs:
1. Lowe, R.J., Wingfield, J., Bell, M. & Bell, J.M. (2007) Evidence for heat losses via party wall cavities in masonry construction, Building Services Engineering Research & Technology, 28 (2) 161-181.

C. Key impact: The research has led to changes in Part L of the Building Regulations and changes to the national energy calculation method for dwellings (SAP 2009). The result was instrumental in the much greater emphasis laid by funders - EPSRC, TSB and ETI - on the measurement of empirical performance of dwellings since 2007. The importance of this research was acknowledged by the selection of the research team as runners-up in the 2007 Carbon Trust/Daily Telegraph Innovation Awards.

D. How the Platform grant contributed to the case study: This case study demonstrates the non-direct impact that Platform funding can have. Platform funding for CBES resulted in UCL acknowledging the strategic importance of the CBES research group, which resulted in considerable additional strategic investment by UCL in CBES. This included the appointment of Professor Robert Lowe, who led the Leeds Metropolitan University team until 2006, and who led the subsequent analysis and publication of the results, as a CBES professor. Strategic investment also funded new monitoring equipment used to make the above discovery.
Exploitation Route This Platform Grant established a truly multi-disciplinary, world-leading research group which has dramatically increased in size, seeded a new Institute (UCL Energy), developed new methods of interdisciplinary and systems working and won international prizes. Building on the work directly supported or indirectly facilitated by the Platform Grant, and also responding to new opportunities, the strategic direction of this continuation proposal represents a step change for CBES. We have won further Platform Grant funding to focus on a new research direction that will have enormous impact internationally, that is the "unintended consequences of decarbonising the built environment". Please refer to: Complex Built Environment Systems (CBES) Platform Grant Renewal Bid: The Unintended Consequences of Decarbonising the Built Environment; EPSRC award to University College London and Michael Davies - Jul 11 - Dec 16
Sectors Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

 
Description The CBES group at the UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies received its Platform Award in 2006 and the funding has facilitated a period of sustained success. Platform funding has been of critical value in helping us to retain key staff, to innovate and in providing the flexibility to be adventurous. We have also been able to enhance our knowledge exchange/transfer work and international collaboration. This has been reflected in the quality, growth and range of our activities. The Platform funding thus enabled us to establish a multi-disciplinary, world-leading research group which has dramatically increased in size, resulted in world leading academic publications, seeded a new Institute (UCL Energy), developed new methods of interdisciplinary and systems working and won international prizes. CBES was submitted to and awarded the highest percentage (35%) of "world leading" rated researchers of any UK university in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) - Architecture and the Built Environment Panel. Building on the work directly supported or indirectly facilitated by the current Platform Grant, and also responding to new opportunities, the strategic direction of this continuation proposal represents a step change for CBES. Refer to: Complex Built Environment Systems (CBES) Platform Grant Renewal Bid: The Unintended Consequences of Decarbonising the Built Environment; EPSRC award to University College London and Michael Davies - Jul 11 - Dec 16
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Construction,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
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