UK universities to research energy and costs savings in non-domestic buildings


A group of six universities will share £3m in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), on behalf of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme (RCUKEP), and £1m from the Technology Strategy Board, as part of a very bold project that aims to improve energy efficiency, cut costs and reduce carbon emissions in the country’s non-domestic buildings.

Researchers from the University of Southampton, together with their colleagues from the Imperial College London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, and Strathclyde will look into how to use technology, data and information, mathematics and sociology to create better energy strategies and behaviours in the aforementioned category of sites.

Non-domestic buildings such as offices, supermarkets, hospitals and factories account for approximately 18 per cent of UK carbon emissions and 13 per cent of final energy consumption.

Project leader Professor Patrick James, a Senior Lecturer in Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton, says: “In a domestic setting, a householder is directly responsible for the energy bills and would therefore not consciously leave a window open overnight in the winter. In an office environment however, there is no financial driver for people to behave in the same energy efficient manner. While there may be a strong reason to open a window in an office (stuffiness, high temperature), the driver to close the window (energy awareness) may be very weak unless there is an additional driver such as external noise, rain or a security risk.

“This poses a real challenge to the facilities manager, ‘happy productive users’ prefer control of the façade, which is what well designed non-domestic building environments should provide, but providing this control introduces significant energy performance risk.”

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