EPSRC and SFI Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Resilience and the Built Environment

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources

Abstract

The UK is on the brink of a new, third age of energy efficiency. UK greenhouse gas emissions must fall a further 65% by 2050, but the energy system will decarbonise even faster. Large wind, marine and solar generators, supported by energy storage, will dominate the central supply system and intelligent, community and building-integrated systems will be embedded in our towns and cities.

This interaction of people, buildings and energy systems will transform the relationship between supply and demand. Our domestic and non-domestic buildings can no longer be passive consumers of heat and power, instead, our homes and businesses must participate actively in a flexible, integrated, low-carbon supply and demand system, buying, selling and storing heat and power to achieve 'Energy resilience through security, integration, demand management and decarbonisation'.

This must be achieved whilst simultaneously meeting our human need for high quality spaces in which to live and work, thereby increasing the productivity of the UK economy, reducing fuel poverty, improving health and wellbeing, and supporting an ageing population.
The new EPSRC CDT in Energy Resilience and the Built Environment (ERBE) will train at least 50 PhD graduates to understand the systemic, radical, multi and interdisciplinary challenges we face, and have the leadership credentials to effect change. Students will be immersed in world-leading research environments at UCL, Loughborough University collaborating with the Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy in Ireland.

ERBE students will attain a depth of understanding only possible as cohorts work and learn together. An integrated, 4-year programme will be co-created with our stakeholder partners and students. It will provide the knowledge, research and transferable skills to enable outstanding graduates from physics to social sciences to pursue research in one of three themes:

* Flexibility and resilience: the interaction between buildings and the whole supply system, through new generation and storage technology, enabled by smart control systems and new business models.
* Technology and system performance: demand reduction and decarbonisation of the built environment through design, construction methods, technological innovation, monitoring and regulation.
* Comfort, health and well-being: buildings and energy systems that create productive work environments and affordable, clean, safe homes.

The Centre will be led by Directors who have worked together for over 30 years, supported by deputies, academic managers, administrators and a course development team who have successfully delivered the CDT in Energy Demand. Over 50 world-leading academics are available as student supervisors.

The core team will be guided by an Advisory Board representing the UK government, energy suppliers, research organisations, consultancies, construction companies and charities; more than 30 prominent individuals have expressed an interest in joining the board. Board members and stakeholders will provide secondments, business skills training and careers advice.

The Centre will provide training and research benefits to the wider energy and buildings community. A new online Buildings, Energy, Resilience and Demand Hub will be created to share training materials, videos, seminars and to promote collaboration, a residential, weeklong programme, Energy Resilience and the Built Environment, will be open to PhD students from across the world as will an annual, student-led conference. An annual Anglo-Irish summer school and a colloquium will showcase the Centre's work and bring students face-to-face with potential future employers.

By providing training in a rigorous, world-leading, stakeholder-shaped, outward-facing and multi-centred research environment, the new ERBE CDT will help the UK achieve the goals in the government's Industrial Strategy and Clean Growth Strategy.

Planned Impact

The low carbon energy systems needed to achieve the Government's carbon 2050 reduction targets promise declining generation costs, but at the price of inflexibility and intermittency. The challenge is to contain costs and improve energy system security, by building in resilience. The opportunities include: more efficient energy conversion, networks and storage technologies; improved energy control and management systems; integration of energy performance into modern methods of construction; improved measurement, display and control systems; and new business models. This will bring pervasive economic benefits: the creation of new intellectual property and expertise; businesses with the ability to compete in the huge new markets for energy efficiency and resilience, both in the UK and overseas; healthier and more productive places to work and live; and a means to address social hardship and inequalities, such as fuel poverty, which affects the health and wellbeing of society's most vulnerable. Seizing these opportunities requires leaders with multi-disciplinary knowledge, skills and whole-system perspective to break down restrictive, sector-specific silos, and drive innovation. The ERBE CDT will train such leaders.

The short and medium term impacts of the ERBE CDT will arise during the training of these leaders and through their research outputs and collaborations. These will include, but are not be restricted to: new approaches to analysis; new insights derived from large datasets; new modelling methods and ways of using existing models; new experimental techniques; field and laboratory measurement techniques; improved socio-technical methods; new manufacturing methods, devices, primary data sets, and patents; and, together with our industrial stakeholders, the integration of research into the business innovation process.

The longer term impacts will be realised over the next 40 years as ERBE graduates take on influential roles in diverse organisations, including:
- national and local governmental organisations that are developing affordable and socially acceptable evidence-based energy policies;
- energy supply and services companies that are charged with delivering a clean reliable and economical system, through deployment of energy efficiency products and technologies within an evolving energy system architecture;
- technology companies that are developing new components for energy generation and storage, new heating, cooling and ventilation systems, and smart digital controls and communications technology;
- industries that are large consumers of fuel and power and need to reduce their energy demand and curb the emission of greenhouse gases and pollutants;
- consultancies that advise on the design of energy systems, non-domestic building design and urban masterplans;
- facilities managers, especially those in large organisations such as retail giants, the NHS, and education, that are charged with reducing energy demand and operating costs to meet legally binding and organisational targets;
- standards organisations responsible for regulating the energy and buildings sectors through the creation of design guides and regulatory tools;
- NGOs and charities responsible for promoting, enabling and effecting energy demand reduction schemes;
- health and social care providers, who need to assure thermal comfort and indoor air quality, especially as our population ages and we adopt more flexible healthcare models.

The realisation of these benefits requires people with specific skills and an understanding of the associated ethical, health & safety, regulatory, legal, and social diversity and inclusion issues. Most importantly, they must have the ability to look at problems from a new perspective, to conceive, and develop new ideas, be able to navigate the RD&D pathway, and have the ability to articulate their intentions and to convince others of their worth; the ERBE CDT will develop these capabilities.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S021671/1 01/10/2019 31/03/2028
2239124 Studentship EP/S021671/1 23/09/2019 15/09/2023 Adria Martin Vilaseca
2241821 Studentship EP/S021671/1 23/09/2019 15/09/2027 Shai Shimon Hassid
2239060 Studentship EP/S021671/1 23/09/2019 15/09/2023 Jalaluddin Ahmed
2241033 Studentship EP/S021671/1 23/09/2019 15/09/2023 Shyam Amrith
2239005 Studentship EP/S021671/1 23/09/2019 15/09/2023 Eleni Francesca Davidson
2299771 Studentship EP/S021671/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Yusuf Bilesanmi
2299840 Studentship EP/S021671/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Charlotte Shields
2299756 Studentship EP/S021671/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2023 Ben Atack