Feasibility Studies - Energy, People, Buildings and Systems

Lead Research Organisation: Loughborough University
Department Name: Civil and Building Engineering


New knowledge, inventions and insights begin with an idea, but without further research and, very often funding, ideas can remain just that: they are not examined critically, their potential value in not tested, and thus their benefits to society are not realised. This Feasibility Account will provide researchers, technicians and academics with a forum for bringing forward their bright ideas together with the opportunity to access the support, time and funding needed to explore their ideas more fully. The Feasibility Account will fund ideas from three theme areas. The low carbon society: energy use for all purposes, buildings, transport, industry etc; alternative energy sources, especially renewable energy technologies; government policy, social attitudes and motivations, and the role of the media and other information vehicles.People, systems and buildings: reducing energy demand and increased energy efficiency for providing heat, cooling and light to building occupants, building design and construction and performance monitoring and maintenance - with the emphasis on meeting occupant needs through innovation, ICT applications, and novel people-centred design.Comfort, climate and demographics: the implications of the combined effects of climate change and shifts in demographics and lifestyles, such as the aging society, obesity and home working, on resource demands, health and well-being.Clearly, these areas are major concerns for humanity and yet solutions to these global problems still require new academic research - often research that combines academics from different disciplines, especially engineers and scientists working alongside social scientists and economists. Together they can address the complete pathway from technical potential through to financial viability and social acceptability.This Feasibility Account will support researchers who work across the many departments at Loughborough University. Through their previous joint projects, which are often co-ordinated through the Sustainability Research School, they have a track record of constructive collaboration. The Feasibility Account will build on and strengthen this culture of working, enable new and innovative ideas to be developed and identify those with clear potential. The strong links that the University has with industry and other stakeholders increases the likelihood that the ideas will ultimately be taken up for the wiser benefit of the society.

Planned Impact

The themes to be explored with this Feasibility Account are of international importance and the feasibility studies undertaken covering a diverse range of topics and operate across a range of scales, from the macroscopic - global and national scale, to the microscopic - the atomic structure of materials. The eventual outcomes are therefore likely to have an impact on a very wide range of stakeholders. The Account funds speculative ideas and it is anticipated that some of these will lead to fruitful areas of research, with clear potential to make an impact. Other ideas, however, might prove, on closer inspection, to be less promising or lead to unanticipated and unwelcomed outcomes. Just a few of the ideas proposed initially, will have an impact on: the efficiency and acceptability of public transport - thus benefitting the travelling public, national and local economy and the IT industry; the design of urban green space - benefitting householders and others living in urban areas, urban planners and ecologists; hi-tech clothing manufactures - thus benefitting the garment, micro-electronics and design industries; and national energy security and supply, national CO2 emissions, the health and well being of the public and the aged in particular - thus benefitting are the public in general, central government, and the NHS. The time scales for the full realisation of the benefits will be very variable, some projects may find stakeholder support during or immediately after the feasibility study is complete, others may take many years to realise their full potential. To accelerate the uptake of the work an Ideas Nursery is proposed. The Nursery will help clarify the ultimate beneficiaries of the work, help plan the future research strategy, and help identify the resources necessary to take the idea forward so that eventually the Feasibility Account funding has maximum impact on industry and other stakeholders.
Description The Feasibility Account activities benefited individual research staff at Loughborough, researchers in other universities that are partners in feasibility studies, and potentially, the national and international academic community.

Individual researchers academics, researchers, higher degree students and potentially technicians, will be the prime beneficiaries, especially researchers at an early stage of their career. They will have gain encouragement to develop research ideas and the environment that supports the ideas' development.
Through the planned activities they have been exposed to the academic thinking, methods and perspectives of others, to
research ideas from other fields and to an open cross-disciplinary way of working. Some of these experiences will be new and alien to some early career academics, especially those from overseas. For all academics, the activities planned will
bring them into contact with others with related interests so that new synergistic relationships might be forged.

For all academics, the Account offered a unique opportunity to explore ideas that they have been musing over but without the
hurdle of committing thoughts to papers and the pressure to expose them prematurely to others, especially to the harsh
spotlight of external peer review. Because the Account enabled ideas to be explored in a protected way, when they prove less
useful than originally envisaged work can be curtail without there being a sense of failure.

The Account widened and strengthen the cross-disciplinary research culture that the Sustainability Research School at Loughborough supports. It acted as a model of best practice for stimulating research - one that other Schools and the Faculties might wish to emulate.

Clearly, conventional channels of academic publication and existing networks and collaborations have been fully exploited to effect the studies, to disseminate the work as it matured, and to build a wider network of interested academics.
Exploitation Route Cross-university collaboration may be stimulated by some of the studies. These could develop into enduring partnerships
with far reaching joint research potential. Once established, such cross-university collaborations often tend to expand as
academics come into contact with others at the other institution. Such links are especially useful for early career

The Account also enabled limited travel overseas where it was deemed necessary in order take feasibility studies to the next stage. This had potential direct benefit to overseas academic research.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Environment

Description The researchers have used the findings to build future research and research proposals.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Energy,Environment,Healthcare
Impact Types Societal,Economic