University of Cambridge > > Sustainability in the Built Environment (GreenBRIDGE) > Current Research on Environment, Energy, Behaviour, and Comfort in Buildings

Current Research on Environment, Energy, Behaviour, and Comfort in Buildings

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr. Eugene Mohareb.

Main speaker: Prof Dean Hawkes , Architect and Darwin College emeritus fellow, Cambridge.

Title: From Tradition to Precision: The origins of environmental science in the architecture of renaissance England

Abstract: The design of sustainable buildings depends on our ability to quantify and predict the relationship between climate and architecture. In his PhD project in Cambridge in the 1960s the speaker constructed one of the first comprehensive computer simulation models of environmental processes in buildings. In recent years he has turned his attention to the more historical and philosophical aspects of the field. This talk will describe how architecture and science came together in England from the 16th to the 18th centuries to bring new understanding and precision to the design of environments in buildings.

Biography: Dean Hawkes is an architect and is emeritus fellow of Darwin College and emeritus professor of architectural design at Cardiff University. He was a founder member and, later Director of the Martin Centre in the Department of Architecture. He has held visiting professorships at schools of architecture in Hong Kong, Singapore, Glasgow, Huddersfield and Leicester. His books include, The Environmental Tradition (1996), The Environmental Imagination (2008) and Architecture and Climate (2012). His buildings, in partnership with Stephen Greenberg, have received four RIBA Architecture Awards. In 2000 he received the PLEA Award for his contribution to research teaching and practice in environmental architecture and in 2010 he received the RIBA Annie Spink Award in recognition of his contribution to architectural education.

Speaker 2: Dr Jason Palmer and Nicola Terry, Director and Associate at Cambridge Architectural Research Ltd, Cambridge.

Title: Power and the Countryside: Hard choices to stay warm and keep the lights on

Abstract: This talk explores the barriers to making energy improvements to homes and community buildings in rural areas, using real examples from three locations around England – East Anglia, Derbyshire and Somerset. We will highlight exemplary low-carbon buildings, and present the findings of new modelling, which projects forward from the 1990 baseline of carbon emissions caused by English homes, to identify the reduction needed by 2050 to achieve our national 80% reduction target. This includes estimating the residual energy demand after a programme of improving both rural and urban homes.  We then use scenarios to explore the landscape and land use implications of meeting this residual energy demand through new low carbon generation.

Biography: Jason Palmer has worked for 13 years carrying out research, writing and providing consultancy services about construction. He is currently a director of Cambridge Architectural Research, where he specialises in project management and modelling domestic energy use and CO2 emissions. His experience includes managing the development of the Cambridge Housing Model and DEM Scot, disseminating best practice, post-occupancy evaluation, and analysing large data sets.

Nicola Terry works mainly as a consultant to DECC , DEFRA and DCLG on household energy use. She is also an author and disseminator of energy advice through workshops and on the internet ( She is currently an associate of Cambridge Architectural Research, for whom she has contributed to a variety of projects including literature surveys, modelling home energy use, statistical analysis and programming.

Speaker 3: Hui Ben, PhD Candidate, Department of Architecture, University of Cambridge.

Title: A Socio-Technical Approach to Thermal Comfort and Heating Behaviour in UK Homes

Abstract: This study presents a Socio-Technical System (STS) approach to compare occupant heating behaviour and thermal comfort at home. The research adopts a user-centred approach to analyse empirical evidence from different households living in Cambridge, UK. It incorporates a series of observations, photo records, diary records, data logger monitoring, questionnaire surveys and interviews. The results show significant gap between heating behaviour and thermal comfort, and that the provision of heating does not necessarily lead to thermal comfort. An analysis using STS identifies the gap with the elements of technology, occupant, activity, composition, in the understanding of thermal comfort with respect to home performance.

Biography: Hui is a Doctoral Researcher at University of Cambridge. She has graduated from MPhil in Architecture by Research at University of Cambridge, focusing on energy efficiency and occupant behaviour in housing. Hui’s current research continues on from the subject of environmental studies and aims to address the interplay between occupant behaviour and building energy efficiency with a focus on thermal comfort and socio-technical system.

This talk is part of the Sustainability in the Built Environment (GreenBRIDGE) series.

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