UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Students present research at Network for Comfort & Energy Use in Buildings Masters conference

17 November 2022

From effect of artificial light on mould in buildings to alternative materials for displacement shelters, Environmental Design and Engineering MSc and Health, Wellbeing and Sustainable Buildings MSc students presented their research at the People and Buildings conference.

Photo of the students and Dr Hector Altamirano standing on the stage at the conference

Five Masters students from UCL's Environmental Design and Engineering MSc and Health Wellbeing and Sustainable Buildings MSc have presented their own research at the People and Buildings Masters Students Conference, coordinated by the Network for Comfort & Energy Use in Buildings. Several of the students used our specialist laboratory space at the UCL Here East Campus to undertake experimental work for their research.

The presentations covered a broad spectrum of research topics from the affect of humans on indoor airborne particles, to passive cooling in epilepsy care homes. The papers presented were:

Find out more about the student’s papers and watch their presentations below. 

Effect of indoor lights on development of Aspergillus versicolor in buildings
Borui Chen

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/MWHqVe1dHuY?list=PLr14D8Ks0FfjTHm8__aOwbTT4SA7tAtOb
About the paper

The presence of moulds inside buildings has been a growing concern as it may affect the integrity of buildings and the health of occupants. Most studies have focused on growth conditions involving moisture, temperature and construction materials. Though moulds are known to have light responses, ranging from developmental regulating to metabolites producing, it is unclear whether they respond to light levels found indoors. This study analysed the influence of indoor light of varying colour temperature and intensity on germination, growth and sporulation of Aspergillus versicolor. Mould germination was not significantly affected by colour temperature or light intensity. The development of mycelia was inhibited when completely exposed to light (1050 lx), both warm and cool lighting, and the cool colour temperature had a stronger effect. If the light intensity increases from darkness to 1050 lx, changes in the morphology and biological process were observed. Colonies exposed to high illuminance were high and denser; however, incubation under dark or weak light intensity triggered mould conidiation earlier. This difference in light responses of A. versicolor may result from protective mechanisms against environmental or light-relevant stress. With the results, this study demonstrates the role of indoor lights in regulating fungal development in buildings.

Read the paper online

Impact of Restorative Spaces on the Wellbeing of Emergency Unit General Practitioners in Indonesian National Referral Hospital
Nisrina Meidiani

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/l0qp6S_Ah94?list=PLr14D8Ks0FfjTHm8__aOwbTT4SA7tAtOb

About the paper

Healthcare workers (HCWs) in hospitals are expected to maintain their performance despite their taxing workloads. This circumstance calls attention to providing appropriate restorative space and helping them maintain their wellbeing during their shifts. This study set out to explore the relationship between an existing restorative space and emergency unit General Practitioners (GPs) wellbeing in National Referral Hospitals in Indonesia: Dr Cipto Mangunkusumo National Central Public Hospital, H. Marzuki Mahdi Psychiatric Hospital, and Sulianti Saroso Infectious Disease Hospital. Existing literature indicates that a hospital with a restorative environment will require four architectural elements: proximity, biophilia, privacy and a sense of belonging. Interviews with Indonesian emergency unit GPs will determine if the principles will be applicable in Indonesia. The present study highlights that control over privacy, closer proximity, access to nature, a sense of belonging and easy access are the architectural elements preferred by the GPs in a restorative space. These findings will be beneficial in initiating a recommendation for a restorative space design for the HCWs in Indonesian hospitals. However, it is essential to note that this study is limited to three hospitals at the national level with a small number of participants. Thus, further research would provide more fruitful results.

Read the paper online

Investigating Alternative Materials for Displacement Shelters, Using North-West Syria as an Example
Lina Al-Saffar

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/J265jZUuDhg?list=PLr14D8Ks0FfjTHm8__aOwbTT4SA7tAtOb

About the paper

In the last decade alone, the global number of forcibly displaced individuals (FDI), due to both conflict and climate disasters, has more than doubled, reaching estimates of over 101 million individuals forced to flee between 2012-2022. The increased frequency of extreme weather events occurring globally set the expectation that not only will FDI’s increase, but the livelihood of those displaced being even further compromised within refugee camps and settlements, such as in Northwest Syria. With limited access to resources, due to disturbed supply chains and boarder conflict, the opportunity to investigate alternative local resource streams, to better shelter environments, is presented. This report investigates the potential of using food waste by-products (FWBP) as an alternative resource stream, combined with vernacular construction methods. Coffee grounds, nut shells, date seeds and chickpea water were used in different combinations with conventional earth materials to produce a total of five different material samples, which were each subject to different treatment environments, and thermal, moisture and load capacity tests. Results showed that, in thermal performance, typical adobe bricks had the lowest thermal inertia, reaching ambient conditions the fastest. Alternatively, the composite brick with aggregate and soil mixes (CAS) attained ambient conditions the slowest. The material blocks treated in the fridge all absorbed the least amount of moisture when subject to 79%rH, compared to those treated in the oven which experienced the greatest weight increase. Although adobe bricks outperformed other composite mixes in load bearing, the results showed promise in using FWBP as an alternative resource and invites future investigation on the utilisation of this as a resource stream.

Read the full paper online

An experimental investigation of how human activities affect the behaviour of indoor airborne particles
Yiming Qi

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/jyM5VOBNRdc?list=PLr14D8Ks0FfjTHm8__aOwbTT4SA7tAtOb

About the paper

The outbreak of COVID-19 in 2019 triggered soaring public concern about respiratory infectious diseases. The motion of virus-carrier particles has also been researched by academia due to its susceptible characteristics caused by various factors. Particle behaviours can be influenced by human activities inducing effects, which can be regarded as an opportunity to support the development of efficient strategies for coping with infectious diseases. By performing simulation experiments, this paper investigated how door opening, human walking, and high relative humidity influence the behaviour of indoor particles (PM0.5 and PM2.5). Particles were monitored at four positions and three heights. The results show that door opening and human walking significantly affected the behaviour of particles, with a significant rise in the number of particles at all positions. Impacts also varied from activity to activity, with only opening the door having the most significant impact on the indoor particle counts. The effect remained in the high relative humidity condition. However, both an increase and a decrease in particle count existed regarding different activities.

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Assessing the effectiveness of passive cooling design strategies to reduce overheating in epilepsy care homes in the UK
Varsha Kakuturu

YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://youtu.be/WClfqcOBtko?list=PLr14D8Ks0FfjTHm8__aOwbTT4SA7tAtOb

About the paper

With climate change, overheating in care homes is becoming a rising problem. This study analyses the current and future risks of overheating in care homes for epilepsy in the UK and tests passive design strategies to mitigate overheating to reduce its detrimental health impacts on residents with epilepsy.

Indoor environment of the care home was monitored and the occupancy, equipment profiles were established through surveys and field visits. Dynamic thermal modelling software was used to assess the impact of passive design strategies and to reduce the usage of active cooling. The results of the baseline model indicated that occupants were at a high risk of overheating, especially at night-time in bedrooms. A combination of night ventilation, shading strategies and high albedo surfaces had the most significant effect on overheating reduction in the current scenario. In the future scenarios, these passive strategies did not completely reduce overheating risks for night-time bedroom temperatures and active cooling measures should be considered.

This is a novel study that provides insights regarding methods to enable resilience to the rising temperatures for care settings with epilepsy. The findings can provide guidelines for passive design strategies and building adaptation methods for the industry and the users.

Read the paper online