UCL Energy Institute


UCL-Energy staff present at Ecobuild 2014

20 March 2014


UCL-Energy researchers Professor Bob Lowe, Dr Lai Fong Chiu, Professor Paul Ruyssevelt and Professor Paul Ekins presented at Ecobuild, a three day event for the sustainable design, construction and energy sector.

Dr Lai Fong Chiu and Prof Robert Lowe gave a presentation entitled "Energy Demand - Understanding the people and technology interface" as part of a session on "Design of sustainable homes with end-users in mind" at Ecobuild on 5 March 2014.

The talk drew on the speakers' work on the FLASH project (funded by the Institute for Sustainability), in which they undertook detailed studies of 10 Retrofit for the Future homes. The key message was that engagement and communication with occupants throughout the retrofit process improves physical performance, occupant satisfaction and feedback on performance to design teams, thus underpinning learning and adaptation. There is more to interfaces than nuts and bolts!

Professor Paul Ekins presented 'Fracking, nuclear, renewables or fusion - what is our energy future?' at the event. Prof Ekins argued that all of gas, nuclear fission and renewables had a potential role to play in a low-carbon, secure and affordable energy future for the UK to 2050, but that gas, from fracking or other sources, would need to be a transitional fuel that was largely phased out of power generation (without CCS) by 2030, and out of heating buildings by 2045, while fracking would be to be carefully regulated to prevent local environmental damage; nuclear would also have to be carefully regulated and a close eye kept on costs to prevent them spiralling out of control, as they have done in the UK in the past; while renewables had the most encouraging recent record in the UK, with significant investment in and cost reduction for onshore wind and solar photovoltaics, and a large percentage increase in both their capacity and generation over the past few years. On current performance, they therefore seem to be the best bet, but current uncertainties in UK energy policy was having a really negative effect on investment in UK renewables, and resolving this had to be the first priority for government if it wanted to meet our statutory carbon targets and keep the lights on.

Prof Paul Ruyssevelt took part in two sessions, firstly chairing 'Converting low energy aspirations into low energy building', where he discussed 'CarbonBuzz and other data sets: what is energy data telling us?' The session looked at 'the gap between predicted and operational performance that can often be large, especially if predictions do not take into account bespoke occupancy patterns and operation at design stage. How can we ensure that energy predictions in non-domestic buildings reflect realistic operating conditions from the outset? What tools and data are available to better understand where and how energy is being used?'

The following day, Prof Ruyssevelt presented at the 'Financing green retrofit' session, which looked at 'with increasing legislation to drive energy efficiency in non domestic buildings the imperatives of retrofit are becoming clear. Finance is fundamental to driving energy efficiency improvements including an understanding of the business case and return on investment.' Prof Ruyssevelt presented 'Delivering non-residential retrofits via Energy Saving Performance Contracts'.