UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


UCL IEDE-Tsinghua University collaboration on low carbon buildings in China funded by EPSRC

4 November 2015

By denn (Tsinghua) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Researchers from UK and Chinese universities are collaborating on four new projects to work towards achieving low carbon cities in the UK and China. The projects were announced as Chinese President, Xi Jinping visited the UK at the end of October.

UCL IEDE will collaborate with Tsinghua University on the The ‘Total Performance’ of Low Carbon Buildings in China and the UK ('TOP') project. The project is led by Professor Mike Davies, Director of UCL IEDE and is worth £797,460. 

The TOP project team will begin by examining the contrasting context within which buildings have been designed and constructed and within which they are used and operated internationally. The project will address the policies and regulatory regimes that relate to energy/Indoor Environmental Quality, but also the assessment techniques used and the ways that buildings are utilised. The proposed work is tremendously challenging and exciting. If successful it will lead the way in understanding and improving the total performance of low carbon buildings and help to develop relevant effective policies and regulations in the transition towards future Low Carbon Cities.

Funded under the Low Carbon Cities programme, the projects will encourage collaboration between leading UK and Chinese academics, combining research to reduce the carbon emissions of existing technologies.

Tsinghua and UCL have the suitable complementary world-leading expertise to undertake this work and form a long-term 'best with best' academic collaboration. The Bartlett at UCL is rated first in terms of research 'power' and environment in the UK; the Tsinghua University School of Architecture was ranked first in China in the National Assessment on Architecture in 2003, 2008, and 2011. The groups in both countries have extensive stakeholder networks and the outputs of the project will thus be communicated widely and appropriately.

The four projects will receive over £3 million in funding from the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), with matched equivalent resources from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

The projects will also deliver fundamental research into alternative energy sources and a reduction of energy demand, all with a focus on future urban environments.

By using comparative research to examine social, political and technical challenges, this will help the UK and China to successfully transition towards future low carbon cities. This programme and joint funding process has been facilitated by the RCUK China office.

Professor Philip Nelson FREng, EPSRC’s Chief Executive, said:

“The aim of this UK-China research collaboration will be to reduce worldwide CO2 production and ensure energy security and affordability. This is the first of three low carbon innovation projects between EPSRC and NSFC. The projects build on the strength of our internationally renowned research and will benefit both the UK and Chinese economies.”

Professor Che Chengwei, Deputy Director General, Department of Engineering and Material Sciences, NSFC commented:

“NSFC has been working closely with EPSRC for several years to address challenges related to achieving a low-carbon economy. This latest programme, with a focus on future urban environments, will build substantially stronger links between Chinese and UK research communities in relevant areas. It will also brighten the future bilateral collaboration between both countries.”

The four projects funded are:

1. Low Carbon Transitions of Fleet Operations in Metropolitan Sites (Newcastle University, Imperial College London, and Southeast University)

2. City-Wide Analysis to Propel Cities towards Resource Efficiency and Better Wellbeing (University of Southampton and Xi’an University of Architecture & Technology)

3. The ‘Total Performance’ of Low Carbon Buildings in China and the UK (University College London  and Tsinghua University)

4. Low carbon climate-responsive Heating and Cooling of Cities (University of Cambridge, University of Reading and Chongqing University)

Low Carbon Cities forms part of the Low Carbon Innovation programme, a £20 million three-year investment announced in March 2014. Facilitated by Research Councils UK (RCUK) China, this programme builds on five years of successful collaborative research funded jointly by EPSRC and NSFC in energy research. Low Carbon Innovation will also support research to develop new low carbon manufacturing processes and technologies, as well as offshore renewables.