The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Grounded Energy Modelling for equitable urban planning development in the global South

Grounded Energy Modelling for equitable urban planning development in the global South (GEMDev) is an Economic and Social Research Council funded project


9 July 2020

The project is part of the GCRF - (Re)thinking the off-grid city 2019. GEMDev aims to contribute to inclusive decision making towards dignified housing and habitat by developing tools that can inform better energy planning.

Communities which are off the grid of affordable, reliable and safe forms of energy services have limited or precarious access to energy services.  This has particularly profound effects on health and economic opportunities.  Focusing on the nexus between energy, comfort and housing, the project takes the case of Lima and Ahmedabad to better understand the access and use of energy in the day-to-day lives of inhabitants and how these practices change over time through different policies and processes related to low-income housing, such as consolidation, eviction, upgrading and relocation.

As data-driven approaches to energy planning, such as Urban Building Energy Models (UBEMs) gain increasing importance as planning tools, the absence of off-grid communities from these tools  risks further marginalising the most vulnerable communities as their needs are either entirely overlooked, or planned solutions fail to address their needs. UBEMs have been developed in, and widely applied to, cities in the global North to model urban energy consumption on a building by building basis, allowing the assessment of impacts of different energy conservation measures and policies.  Such tools are highly attractive to energy planners in the global South, but the complexity of off-grid communities is wholly absent from these models at present. 

GEMDev proposes to use participatory research methods to co-create the data sets with off-grid communities and inform actionable strategies for future redevelopment to ensure dignified housing and habitat for the urban poor. The research process is designed to increase communities’ capacity and skills, to amplify their voice in the planning processes that have profound impacts on their lives and to ensure that they are represented in the UBEMs of the future. 


This research is a partnership between the two UCL departments - The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy & Resources (Professor Paul Ruyssevelt, Dr Pamela Fennell, Dr Julia Tome) and The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (Dr Rita Lambert), Cept University (Professor Rajan Rawal, Dr Asha Joshi),  Foro Ciudades Para la Vida (Arq. Liliana Miranda Sara), CIDAP (Arq. Silvia de los Rios), CENCA (Arq. Carlos Escalante Estrada), Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Dr Martin Wieser).  Bentley Systems Ltd are a project partner.