The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction


Dr Niamh Murtagh

Senior Research Fellow

The Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
9th Dec 2013

Research summary

A common research interest through all of Niamh’s work is that of behaviour change. Her research has explored motivation, identities and other factors influencing change to more environmentally responsible behaviour, in the domains of construction, gardening, energy, transport and recycling. Another theme of interest is technology and pro-environmental behaviour. In addition, her PhD research focused in part on decision-making in real-world contexts. Her initial research in UCL examined change towards sustainability in the construction industry. Focusing on the people associated with production of the built environment, from architects in small practices, repair-maintain-improve practitioners, town planners and building control surveyors to householders, she has investigated the role of intrinsic motivations and capabilities, professional identity and social power in engagement with sustainability. Having become increasingly aware of the lack of research within construction on issues relating to adaptation to the changing climate, her current work focuses on climate-related overheating, particularly in urban settings and affecting older people, and also on the role of urban greening in creating resilient cities and communities.

Niamh is keen to hear from high-calibre students, from a psychology or other social science background, interested in pursuing a PhD in research topics related to behaviour change, occupant/citizen behaviour and the built environment, urban greening or similar.

Teaching summary

Niamh teaches on the psychology of sustainable behaviour and on research ethics.


Niamh’s first degree was in Computer Science, from University College Dublin. She worked in software in a variety of industries in Ireland and the UK, including electricity, telecommunications and logistics, and has achieved Chartered Engineer and Chartered Information Technology Practitioner status. Alongside her roles as an IT Project Manager and Systems Architect, she completed an MSc in Software Engineering at the University of Brighton. Having decided on a move to psychology, she completed an MSc in Occupational and Organisational Psychology at the University of Surrey and went on to complete a PhD in social psychology.  Her findings from her PhD then led her into research in environmental psychology, particularly on pro-environmental behaviour and behaviour change. She worked for four years as a Research Fellow in the Environmental Psychology Research Centre at the University of Surrey. Her work there explored transport and energy behaviours from the perspective of sustainability, on projects funded by ESRC and EPSRC,co-working with disciplines including communications engineers, sociologists, economists, and political and environmental scientists. She joined UCL at the end of 2013 and has developed collaborations with colleagues across UCL and other UK universities, as well as in the UAE, Finland and China.