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Building Stock Lab

Building-Stock Energy Models are powerful tools for cities and regions seeking to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions of their buildings. Our models capitalise on large-scale urban data sets to create 3D digital representations in which the unique characteristics of each building are captured. Working with academics, government and local authorities in the UK and internationally our models provide critical insights in the development and assessment of strategies to meet climate and sustainable development goals. 

The lab’s work on building stocks acts as a central core for the UCL Energy Institute's Energy & Buildings research, interacting with research on physical characteristics of buildings, smart energy research and research on building occupiers. 


Our research interests

The lab undertakes pioneering research in: 

  • 3D modelling of the UK building stock: 3DStock 
  • Dynamic simulation of energy use in building stocks: SimStock 
  • Building stock modelling for the global south, including informal settlements 
  • The role of solar and other renewable energy technologies across the building stock 
  • Empirical analysis of energy use in building stocks 

3D modelling of the UK building stock: 3DStock 

3d stock map of London boroughs
3DStock is a method for modelling all buildings – domestic, non-domestic and mixed-use – in a locality, in three dimensions and located geographically. The primary purpose is the analysis of energy performance, but there are many other potential applications. Models have been built to date of 33 London boroughs and work is underway to extend the model to all England and Wales by autumn 2022. The lab has developed its models in applications for central and local government (London Building Stock Model

Dynamic simulation of energy use in building stocks: SimStock 

Research themes
SimStock is a modelling platform which combines data from multiple sources to automatically generate dynamic building energy simulation models ready to be executed by EnergyPlus, an open-source whole-building energy modelling (BEM) engine. High Performance Computing (HPC) or cloud computing is used to allow a large number of models to be simulated in parallel. Simulation outputs are collected and post-processed automatically which prepares them for various analysis to be applied, such as sensitivity analysis, regressions, uncertainty quantification, etc. 

Building stock modelling for the global south 

Rooftops in Jodhpur
The application of 3DStock and SimStock methods in the global south can produce significant benefits but there are many challenges with data scarcity, climate and weather differences and cultural factors. The Lab is working with partners in India and Peru through the iNUMBER, GEMDev, UBASE and CITES projects to gather additional data using UAVs and related digital technologies and investigating contextual factors on the ground.  For the first time, the partners are bringing informal developments into these models so that they can be included planning for provision of sustainable energy and comfort. 

The role of solar and other renewable energy technologies  

Solar panels
The detail available in the Lab’s building stock models enables high resolution analysis of available solar radiation for buildings and land taking account the impact of surrounding buildings and landscape as exemplified by the London Solar Opportunity Map. The ability to analyse energy use, land space availability and other contextual factors allows a range of queries to performed to identify the scope and likely impact of heat pumps, heat networks and a range of retrofit interventions. These methods have been applied in practice as part of consultancy work, such as that for the London Borough of Islington

Empirical analysis of energy use in building stocks 

Electrical plug point on white wall
The lab works closely with UK central government to support analyses of energy use across the building stock in England and Wales.  This research involves access to sensitive and confidential data such as annualised energy meter data and unpublished data from the Valuation Office Agency.  This research is conducted in a highly secure cloud-based environment with policies and procedures that comply with ISO27001. Comparisons with theoretical calculations of energy use, such as those from Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), provide important insights into divergence and occasional agreement.  

Research with impact

The lab works with governments, local authorities, NGOs and other research groups to develop detailed understandings of energy consumption across large numbers of buildings. We develop novel data extraction and analysis methods that provide the underpinning data to allow policy makers to make informed choices as well as undertaking consultancy projects with portfolio holders to develop optimised decarbonisation plans for their estates. We work in partnership with academics in other contexts to build capacity and develop new approaches to understanding building energy consumption in different settings. The lab creates significant impact through a range of activities: 

Pylons against blue sky

Leading international collaboration

As part of a broader role supporting the IEA’s Energy in Buildings and Communities programme Annex 70 the Lab led an international collaboration of researchers, industry and government from across the globe working to develop methods for improving the empirical evidence on energy demand in the building stock.

Visit the IEA Annex 70 website ►

Office building at night from the outside

Developing a unique evidence base to understand non-domestic buildings and their energy consumption

This project, fully funded by BEIS, brings together existing and new data to develop a comprehensive and uniquely structured model in which every non-domestic building is represented in detail: its energy use and energy efficiency, its geometry and materials, the activities of the occupants, and even the potential for renewable generation. 

Read about the Non-Domestic Building Survey ►

Lima cityscape

Tool for inclusive decision making about housing and energy in the global South

The GEMDev project aims to contribute to inclusive decision making towards dignified housing and habitat by developing tools that can inform better energy planning. 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. 

Visit the GEMDev website ►

Surgeons at work in hospital

NHS Net Zero Strategy

As part of the Lancet Countdown team, the lab analysed NHS England’s primary and secondary care estate to underpin an review of the options available to enable NHS Estates and Facilities to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040.  The analysis included an automated assessment of NHS trust sites to identify the scope for the introduction of ground source heat pumps, photovoltaics and other technologies. 

Visit the NHS Net Zero website ►

Our projects

The Building Stock Lab’s projects span domestic and non-domestic building stocks in the UK and across the globe. Our work encompasses both exploratory research to develop new methods of analysis and data collection, and direct consultancy for governments and local authorities to identify strategies for immediate action.

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Building Stock Lab in teaching

students in an energy modelling lecture
The Building Stock Lab plays a key role in supporting teaching across the Energy Institute: 
  • Supervision of MSc dissertations across a range of programmes 
  • Provision of curated data sets for teaching purposes 
  • Delivery of core and optional modules for MSc Smart Energy and the Built Environment MSc

Energy Systems and Data Analytics MSc

The methods of analysis used in the Energy Systems and Data Analytics MSc are central to the ongoing development the Building Stock Lab’s building stock models. Data visualisation and machine learning methods are being to developed to extract building characterises from images to expand the data held by 3DStock. MSc students are able to access the data held in 3DStock to support their research. For example a group of four students undertook an investigation of alternative methods to produce the virtual Energy Performance Certificates vEPCs that form one of the unique features of 3DStock.

View Energy Systems and Data Analytics MSc MSc in the UCL Prospectus ►

Smart Energy and the Built Environment MSc

Understanding the interplay between smart energy technologies and the built environment is critical to transforming the global energy system and reducing carbon emissions. Modelling Community Energy Systems is a core module that introduces students to micro-grids and community energy systems alongside a focus on core modelling skills and best practices. In 2022 the Building Stock Lab team developed a new optional module in Urban Building Energy Modelling which draws on the breadth of skills across the lab to introduce students to geospatial analysis and energy analysis at the urban scale.

View Smart Energy and the Built Environment MSc in the UCL Prospectus ►


      Smart Buildings and Digital Engineering MSc

      The Building Stock Lab team support a range of programmes across the Bartlett School of Environment Energy and Resources, including the MSc in Smart Buildings and Digital Engineering, developing content and delivering core modules as well as supervising MSc dissertations on topics such as developing optimal retrofit strategies for a residential neighbourhood in Beijing.

      View Smart Buildings and Digital Engineering MSc in the UCL Prospectus ► 

       


      Doctoral Research (PhD)

      The Building Stock Lab supports the research conducted by PhD students and this research is integral to the development of the lab. PhD students play an active role in the lab, attending and presenting at weekly meetings and organising some of the labs regular activities such as the monthly journal club. Their work is an important contribution to the development of the lab’s research and the lab’s unique stock models provide a rich resource for their studies. This symbiotic relationship is further enhanced through internships which offer our students an opportunity to step fully into the work of the lab.

      Doctoral research relating to Building Stock Lab


      Our researchers

      Paul Ruyssevelt portrait
      Paul Ruyssevelt
      Chair of Energy & Building Performance
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      Phil Steadman portrait
      Philip Steadman
      Emeritus Professor of Urban Studies and Built Form Studies
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      Pamela Fennell portrait
      Pamela Fennell
      Research Associate in Building Stock and Energy Modelling
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      Steve Evans
      Senior Research Fellow
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      Kathryn Janda
      Principal Research Associate in Non-Domestic Buildings
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      Dominic Humphrey
      Research Fellow in Building Stock and Energy Modelling
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      Gareth Simons
      Research Fellow in Building Stock and Energy Modelling
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      Rob Liddiard
      Research Associate
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      Argyrios Oraiopoulos
      Research Fellow in Urban Energy Modelling and Thermal Comfort
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      Oliver Dawkins
      Research Fellow in Building Stock and Energy Modelling
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      Daniel Godoy-Shimizu
      Research Assistant in High-Rise Buildings, Energy and Density
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      Harshavardhan Jatkar
      Research Fellow in Energy, Urban Planning and Informal Settlements
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      Virginia Gori
      EPSRC UCL Doctoral Prize Fellow
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