The transition to a low carbon economy must be led by academic research

9 July 2012

Green building

Leading UK and international academics believe a progressive research programme is vital to ensure that policies, such as the UK’s newly launched Green Deal, are backed by evidence and data, and that systems are in place to monitor, evaluate and adapt such policies.

Next Challenges for Energy and Buildings Research, a special issue published today by the journal Building Research & Information, explores how the international research community is responding to the far-reaching implications of strategic environmental and energy policy objectives and emerging policy responses, including the UK policy objective to ‘make the transition to a low carbon economy while maintaining energy security, and minimising costs to consumers’ (The DECC Carbon Plan, 2011).

Key governmental and international bodies – the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), equivalent bodies in a range of countries including Germany, Japan, the USA, China, as well as the EU; and the International Energy Agency (IEA) - see harnessing the potential of the built environment as central to this enterprise.

Professor Bob Lowe, Deputy Director of the UCL Energy Institute and guest editor of the special issue said:

The key question posed by this special issue is how to ensure that policies like the Green Deal are backed by evidence, founded on reliable technical data, and that we have the systems in place to monitor, evaluate and adapt such policies in the light of changing circumstances and emerging knowledge.

Professor Bob Lowe (UCL Energy Institute)

"The key question posed by this special issue is how to ensure that policies like the Green Deal are backed by evidence, founded on reliable technical data, and that we have the systems in place to monitor, evaluate and adapt such policies in the light of changing circumstances and emerging knowledge.

"The research community is seen as central to all of these, and yet there is a currently a misalignment between the research community and how their work supports public policy. This international journal puts forward a case to promote a progressive research programme.

"The risk, in the absence of such a programme, is that strategic goals for the energy and environmental performance of the built environment and the wider economy will not be met."

The case made in the journal is for a research programme to promote the following:

  • learning from other research communities, for example the medical community to provide independent assessment and assimilation of scientific evidence
  • a renewed emphasis on empirical data including measurement of basic technical properties of buildings and building systems
  • making more intensive use of existing sources of energy-related data
  • changing the culture and practice of research to support greater interdisciplinarity, closer engagement between researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders and ensure more rapid translation of results and insights from research to the rest of the economy
  • addressing ‘structural’ or contextual factors that influence energy demand and research, drawing particularly on social sciences
  • formulating a process of research translation to support policy makers, practitioners and the public.

Links:

Building Research & Information special issue
UCL Energy Institute