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UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering

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Measurement, monitoring & testing

In our research projects we employ several means of measuring, monitoring and testing including laboratory work, extensive field environmental monitoring, detailed building and social surveys and interventions in people’s homes and workplaces. These include post occupancy evaluation, physical performance testing and the supporting building stock model development.

We have several dedicated lab spaces as well as an extensive collection of equiptment at the disposal of our staff and students to undertake research.


Post occupancy evaluation

The post occupancy evaluation (POE) of buildings is a vital part of our research. It is only from understanding how a building works in use that the design process can satisfy the needs of the occupants, owners and the larger environment to reduce carbon emissions.

We use the POE in the following situations:

  • environmental and energy benchmarking;
  • appraising a building design approach; and
  • investigation of a problem such as overheating, poor indoor air quality.

If the POE is investigating the extent to which a design solution has been successful, we must have a clear definition of the intention. The normal overarching design intentions in our projects relate to one or more of the following:

  • low carbon/energy use;
  • sustainability;
  • better productivity/performance; and
  • healthy occupants.

Physical performance testing

The key physical parameters of the internal environmental performance that we usually study are:

  • thermal comfort;
  • infiltration/ventilation;
  • indoor air quality;
  • lighting; and
  • noise (in collaboration with other UCL colleagues).

Supporting building stock model development

We have built a strong monitoring capacity to support the development of semi-empirical building stock models. First, data must be gathered on all the main aspects that define representativeness, from building type to occupants’ socio-economic levels. As we make plans for equipment and logistics, we need to take into account what is required to meet project specifics, as well as the standard measurements. Resource constraints should be understood and acknowledged early on, rather than arising as an unexpected consequence of omissions in the methodology.


Laboratories and equipment

We have several dedicated lab spaces as well as an extensive collection of equiptment at the disposal of our staff and students to undertake research. Many of these are based at our new state of the art campus in Here East in East London

These include:

  • the Bartlett Lighting Simulator, one of the most sophisticated lighting simulators in the UK. Email us to find out more or to book the simulator;
  • a large 24m2 walk-in environmental chamber, which is in constant use for the study of aspects of building-related phenomena;
  • 2 Full Weather Stations, including pyranometers used to measure solar radiation;
  • more than 1,000 stand-alone 4 channel data loggers capable of recording temperature, relative humidity, illuminance and further sensor inputs, such as CO2 levels;
  • 10 wireless data logging systems that can be deployed and accessed remotely. These can be used in conjunction with over 100 transmitters with sensors measuring temperature, RH, CO2, electrical power consumption, air velocity and heat flux;
  • a gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer and thermal desorber system;
  • continuous particle monitoring and TVOC systems;
  • carbon dioxide and monoxide monitoring equipment;
  • thermal comfort monitors measuring dry bulb, wet bulb and globe temperatures along with air velocity;
  • calibrated pressure test or ‘blower door’ equipment to identity air leakage paths and measure the air tightness of dwellings and smaller non-domestic buildings;
  • infra-red cameras to help with various building diagnostic purposes;
  • heat flux plates to measure heat flows during occupation and determine in situ U-values;
  • co-heating test equipment to accurately measure the fabric and ventilation heat loss in an unoccupied building;
  • moisture probes to measure the in situ moisture of building fabric;
  • ventilation hoods and vane anemometers of various diameters that can help balance and calibrate mechanical ventilation systems;
  • CO2 tracer gas decay systems to measure air infiltration in domestic dwellings; and
  • sound and light levelmeters.