UCL Energy Institute


Energy and Health Group

Our highly interdisciplinary work investigates the intersection of energy, its effects on environmental and climatic conditions, and human health and wellbeing. The types and quantities of fuels used, what they are used for, and where this use occurs, impacts our health. There is heavy health burden from exposure to pollution from vehicles and unclean domestic fuels, or mental stress through lack of access. Providing universal access to clean decarbonised energy is both critical to addressing climate change and health.

The process of decarbonising the global energy system provides multiple opportunities for co-benefits which improve health and wellbeing. For example, shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy for electricity generation will improve air quality and reduce deaths from air pollution. Providing opportunities and infrastructure for cycling and walking will reduce transport energy use and improve our health. Retrofitting our homes to be energy efficient has the potential to reduce fuel costs and provide comfortable, livable temperatures, reducing emissions and improving our mental well-being. 

Our research interests

Our research focuses on three areas and their interconnections: the built environment & energy, climate change, and health & wellbeing.

Energy and Health Group research area diagram

Built environment & energy

City at night
This research area focuses on themes relating to the decarbonisation of the global building stock and energy demand management within the sector. The buildings and construction and use account for more than a third of global CO2 emissions – achieving the Paris Agreement climate goals will require central focus on decarbonisation of the global building stock.

Health & wellbeing

Aerial view of city park
Equitable and affordable access to energy is essential to health and wellbeing in the 21st century. This area focuses on the health impacts which arise in relation to energy & climate change. These are particularly prevalent in the built environment. They can manifest through physical problems such as respiratory issues caused by poorly ventilated homes, or through mental health issues relating to energy insecurity or exposure to extreme weather events.

Climate change

Rural landscape with power station blowing thick smoke in the background

Tackling climate change has been described as the 'greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century’. This research area focuses on both the co-benefits of climate change mitigation, as well as the health impacts that the changing climate has with respect to the built environment and other sectors. For example, rising global temperatures will mean buildings and infrastructure will have to cope with more severe and prolonged heat waves, which in turn will impact healthcare provision.

Research with impact

Members of the Energy and Health group produce high quality, impactful outputs through their involvement in global partnerships, projects, and research activities.

UK wildfire on hillside

Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change

The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change produces an annual indicator report tracking the impacts of climate and climate actions on health. The Lancet Countdown is supported by Wellcome Trust funding and is a collaboration of experts from over 35 institutions and agencies, who work together to track the relationships between climate change and health through a series of annually updated indicators.

Visit the Lancet Countdown website ►

Aerial view of white city buildings showing lots of trees and greenery

Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction

Global ABC (Buildings GSR): The Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction is an annual report published by UNEP which examines and analyses activities in the global building and construction sector, with a particular focus on efforts of decarbonisation of the building stock.

The 2022 report launched at COP27 in Egypt and had a special focus on alternative building materials, and the region of Africa.
Read more about the 2022 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction ►

In 2021, the report looked at the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read more about the 2021 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction ►

Our researchers

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Ian Hamilton
Professor of Energy, Environment and Health
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Gesche Huebner
Lecturer in Sustainable and Healthy Built Environments
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Shih-Che Hsu
Research Fellow in Building Stock and Indoor Air Quality Modelling
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Harry Kennard
Research Fellow in Energy, Climate and Health
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Harshavardhan Jatkar
Research Fellow in Energy, Urban Planning and Informal Settlements
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Alex Summerfield
Honorary Senior Lecturer
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