New research aims to improve energy efficiency

The research will address how to use technology, data and information, mathematics and sociology to create better energy strategies and behaviours in the public and private, non-domestic buildings stock.

The project has been funded with £3 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), on behalf of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme (RCUKEP), and £1 million from the Technology Strategy Board. 

Academics at Strathclyde will develop a radically different approach by employing pervasive sensing to capture data on environmental conditions, occupant behaviour and personalised energy use within buildings. They'll use these data to deliver feedback to occupants and facilities managers.

Professor Joe Clarke, Director of the Energy Systems Research Unit of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, will lead the project. He said:

The University is delighted to be included as part of this ambitious research programme and the funding will provide us with the opportunity to contribute to the goal of improving energy efficiency within the UK’s non-domestic building stock.

Research into indoor climate and environmental management is of importance internationally because buildings are a major energy consumer in all industrialised economies. The research to be conducted at Strathclyde will allow us to investigate a critical area in which little research has yet been undertaken, with the aim of improving the facilities management process to better serve the needs of the end user and ultimately reduce energy demand.

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

By 2050, the total UK non-domestic floor area is expected to increase by 35%, while 60% of existing buildings will still be in use. This means that substantial retro-fitting is likely and planning what techniques to employ and how best to ensure occupant cooperation will be essential.

Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said:

Improving energy efficiency is an important piece of the energy puzzle. Worldwide energy demand is rising, as are global temperatures and sea levels. We need to find smart solutions to how we use energy while improving the environment in which people have to work, rest or play. These projects will go a long way to help improve our understanding of what goes on in non-domestic buildings and add to the armoury at the disposal of those managing these facilities.

The new projects will be run at Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, University of Oxford, University of Southampton and the University of Strathclyde.