Bookmark and Share

Inspired to create low-carbon communities

11 November 2010

Rural Community Council event

more pictures: 1, 2, 3, 4

Over 60 people from Leicestershire and Rutland communities came together at De Montfort University last week to learn about how they can act together to make the place they live cleaner and greener.
The “Inspiration for Action” event was the first gathering for local community activists organised by the Communities Cutting Carbon project, a joint initiative between the RCC and De Montfort University. People attending the event learnt about the steps they could take to start local green groups and heard about practical actions these groups could carry out, such as saving energy in community buildings or organising energy saving events.

Project co-ordinator Dr Andrew Reeves said “More and more people are seeing low-carbon living as a positive opportunity for their communities, and are forming volunteer groups to help make this happen where they live. There are already many community green groups in Leicestershire and Rutland, and the Communities Cutting Carbon project aims to support these groups to achieve more and to help more groups to get started.”

The Communities Cutting Carbon project is a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project, involving the IESD and the Rural Community Council (RCC) for Leicestershire and Rutland. It aims to provide support to community groups taking action on climate change in the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland area, and through an action research methodology, facilitate learning on effective strategies for community engagement on climate change.

For more information, visit


Newcastle sets standards in eco-friendly homes

28 October 2010
(Source: North East and Yorks Housing News)

A home in Walker has undergone an intensive transformation to make it one of the greenest in the country. Frank Haslam Milan (FHM) North East has carried out the work on the terrace house in Pottery Bank for Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), to set new standards for how environmentally friendly homes will look in the future. The scheme has seen YHN and FHM join forces with Newcastle City Council, Vanguard Homes, Arup, De Montfort University and DKS Architects to create the ultimate eco home.

Jen Vinton, Head of Investment Delivery at YHN, said: "This is a really exciting project to be involved in.

"The home not only look fantastic externally, they will also provide us with valuable information on how houses across the city could be made more energy efficient."

A team of experts subjected the house - built in the 1930s - to a series of sophisticated tests before carrying out the work. The project is expected to reduce carbon footprint by 80 per cent. The revolutionary design will allow the home to trap heat from sunlight, body warmth and even cooking, reducing the need for conventional heating. Other features include:

Tenants Donna Howarth and Shaun White testing the Smart monitoring equipmentTenants Donna Howarth and Shaun White testing the Smart monitoring equipment - Wattbox developed by DMU researchers

  • Specially insulated pod bay windows and triple glazed windows throughout
  • A solar porch at the back of the building
  • Full external thermal insulation
  • New External doors
  • Solar powered hot water
  • A mechanical ventilation system to help prevent overheating
  • Low energy lights
  • Energy efficient kitchen appliances
  • A voltage control system that can save 15 per cent of energy
  • Smart monitoring equipment so residents can see how much energy they are using.

For further information about retrofit, contact Dr Andy Wright or Dr Mark Lemon


“Smart Grid Lab for Europe”

15 October 2010

Bornholm Island

Bornholm island showing renewable generators (Graphic: Troels Marstrand)

IESD researchers Richard Snape and Dr Christophe Rynikiewicz, working on the CASCADE project, presented a paper in a unique international conference on Small Islands in Bornholm, Denmark. Bornholm has been branded the “smart grid lab for Europe” and is hosting the EcoGrid EU project from 2011 -2014 and the EDISON project investigating the integration of Electric Vehicles – often seen as a key component for maximising the use of intermittent wind energy via the smart grid.

The CASCADE project is modelling the smart grid as a Complex Adaptive System, using Agent Based Modelling techniques to explore emergent effects of integrating demand side management and distributed generation in a smart grid.  One of the initial tasks for CASCADE is to identify small case studies for early models and explore the effects of the context in which the smart grid exists.  As such, islands provide an excellent opportunity to explore different social contexts at a scale amenable to modelling. 

The paper presented by Richard Snape and Christophe Rynikiewicz was selected for the special edition of a book (2011), by CRT and ISISA following the 11th Islands of the World Conference “Celebrating Island Connectivities”. Write to the authors for a copy of the working paper and the presentation delivered 

For more details of the Bornholm conference and links to related projects – see this entry on the CASCADE website.


IESD staff return from summer of festivals

15 September 2010

FYE poster

More Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Researchers from the IESD have recently braved a number of weekends in muddy fields across the UK as part of the Face Your Elephant Project. The aim of Face Your Elephant is to encourage young festival-goers to take an interest in the science and engineering of climate change through consultations, carbon footprinting, workshops, surveys and the odd bicycle powered smoothie.

In its second year, the team’s calendar has expended to 5 weekends this summer. These festival were:- Big Session at De Montfort Hall, Latitude Festival in Surrey, Venturer Camp in Derbyshire, Summer Sundae in Leicester and Shambala Festival near Market Harborough.

Summer Sundae in Leicester saw Sir Peter Soulsby, the MP for Leicester South, get involved in the project. He said, “I think it’s important to have this sort of event. It’s important to engage with the Woodcraft Folk and the public more generally in a way that’s interesting, lively and fun as well as challenging. That’s what we've got here.”

At Venturer Camp, Face Your Elephant tested a new wireless information system using QR codes across the whole site. This allowed visitors to obtain videos and information about sustainability at the festival on their mobile phones without the need for a peer educator, allowing visitors to discover the site at their own pace and explore the aspects which interest them. This system was expanded on for the final event of the summer, Shambala Festival.

Face Your Elephant is a joint project between Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development at De Montfort University, the Centre for Alternative Technology and the Woodcraft Folk. More information about the project, including a number of videos from the events can be found at


PhD research presented at IEPEC Paris 2010

14 June 2010

Caroline talking to Chris at IEPEC 2010

Photo: Caroline also had a poster accepted at the conference.  A session to discuss these offered an opportunity to discuss communication evaluation with Chris Granda of energy efficiency agency Grasteu Associates.

Caroline Wilson was one of only two students to have papers accepted for the International Energy Program Evaluation Conference (IEPEC), 10-11 June 2010, Paris, France. In all, 49 papers were selected for presentation at the conference from 165 submissions. Other presenters were all either staff academics or experienced evaluation professionals.

Caroline said: “I was very lucky that the theme of my PhD matched one of the themes of the conference – how communication can successfully encourage environmentally sustainable behaviours.

“Attending the conference was a very valuable learning experience and an opportunity to get useful feedback from both academics and professionals working in this field.”

Further details about the conference can be found at

Retrofit for the future

09 June 2010

Dr Andy Wright and Dr Mark Lemon have recently been involved in research to transform old, inefficient homes into very efficient homes requiring minimal heating with low carbon emissions. Their work forms part of the ‘Retrofit for the Future’ competition funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board. During the first phase of the competition, IESD provided energy modelling and specialist advice on four retrofit house designs: two with East Midlands Housing Association (EMHA), both in Leicester, and two with Newcastle City Council, both in Newcastle upon Tyne. In phase 2, two of these designs were amongst the 87 selected nationally for the actual retrofitting of the dwellings. The aim was to achieve a large reduction in energy use and carbon emissions, towards the German Passivhaus standard.

The projects are due to start on site in June/July 2010. IESD will monitor the performance, both technical and behavioural, over the next two years of occupancy. These ‘deep retrofit’ projects are to achieve a much higher energy efficiency level than the current norm, resulting in reductions in heating energy of around 80%, and will provide important feedback for future policy. The amount of effort of research and new technologies required by the projects is reflected by the relatively high budgets at around £144,000 per house. Costs to roll out the retrofit programme on a large scale would be much lower. In May, Dr Wright presented a paper at the 14th International Passivhaus Conference in Dresden, Germany describing this work.

The Leicester projects have been covered by the BBC ‘Victorian house in Leicester gets green facelift’ and by the Leicester Mercury, ‘The house that will heat itself (well, hopefully...)

IESD participates in €12.8m FP7 project

20 April 2010

EU FP7Manufacturing is the driving force of Europe's economy, providing over €6,553 billion in GDP. However against a background of climate change legislation, volatile energy prices and increased environmental awareness, modern manufacturing must encompass a focus on eco-efficiency. Announced on 12th February, the latest FP7 project will deliver energy management standards and a technology framework for next generation, sustainable manufacturing. The KAP project, whose name was derived from the philosophy that Knowledge of past performance, combined with Awareness of the present state, can support Prediction of future outcomes, involves major partners in the software, semiconductor and automotive industries, and several universities/research centres across Europe. Total value of the project exceeds €12.8 million, with EU contribution of €7.5 million. As one of the key partners, the Institute is representing De Montfort University to develop an integrated energy management framework for factories. The output will provide transparency and help reduce industrial carbon emissions in the manufacturing sector. Led by Dr Rick Greenough at the Institute, the project is expected to start in September 2010, with a funding to the DMU worth €0.4 million.


Transforming Energy Demand through Digital Innovation

15 April 2010

microwattThe Institue has been awarded an EPSRC grant “Reduction of Energy Demand in Buildings through Optimal Use of Wireless Behaviour Information (Wi-be) Systems” as part of the TEDDI Programme. The consortium, led by the IESD (Prof Li Shao, Dr Kate Irvine and Dr Mark Lemon), comprises three universities: De Montfort University, Queen Mary University of London and the University of Nottingham, which deal with user behaviour, wireless technology and building energy, respectively. The industrial partners included Philips Research Laboratories, the CIBSE, and MicroWatt. Picture on the right is an examplar whole building monitoring system from MicroWatt. The proposal was rated highly by the EPSRC Panel.

The "user-centric" Wi-be approach forms a "people/building energy technology interface" that identifies specific wasteful energy use, actions to take and the persons to take them. In this way, the Wi-be system promises real potential for instigating sustainable behaviour change and energy demand reduction. However, development of this technology gives rise to inter-related challenges spanning ICT, building energy and user behaviour, which so far are largely being researched in isolation. A multi-disciplinary team will work to bring about the needed step change in the understanding of Wi-be technology, and to ensure its effectiveness and successful uptake. This project will start from July, 2010.


Important lessons from aIM4SMEs project

30 March 2010

Queens electricityThe Institute has shown the importance of intelligent metering in identify energy savings and is now applying findings to its own base, the Queens Building. Intelligent metering monitors energy consumption around the clock, so that users can see up-to-the-hour energy consumption and the immediate effect of any energy saving measures. DMU, along with Leicester City Council and nine European partners from five countries have been involved in the aIM4SME's Project (Automatic Intelligent Metering for Small and Medium-sized Businesses). The scheme has helped DMU in implementing its sustainability strategy and actions. Recent analysis of the Queens Building, for example, showed a particularly high constant ‘baseload’ consumption of electricity. Further research is undertaken to explore how to reduce the consumption through engaging the users of the building (see DUALL project). As part of  our Living Lab Initiative, innovative public engagement methods to ‘connect’ building users to their electrical consumption, through especially web-based tools and social networking, will be explored.


IESD partnered with Figueres, Catalonia, Spain

10 March 2010

Figueres CastleProfessor Marjan Sarshar, Director of the IESD, and Professor Paul Fleming, Director of the Sustainable Development Task Force at DMU travelled to the beautiful city of Figueres in February. Located in northeast Catalonia, Spain, Figueres is the largest city near the border with France, with a population of 45,000.

Boosting local development through capitalizing on a low carbon economy has been an important part of the vision of the City. As an established research-based university, DMU has been invited to join them in this venture. The Institute will represent DMU by taking up the role as the training partner of the City in the area of energy and sustainable development.

The agreed collaborations include providing postgraduate training at DMU and delivering masters degree courses in Figueres, and developing joint research programmes within the European Union. This role is in line with the IESD’s strategy to develop international links and to have an impact on European economy.

On 24th February, Professor Sarshar signed the Letter of Cooperation with Mr Santi Vila, Mayor of Figueres, and Mr Richard Elelman, the Deputy Mayor. The video below is the press conference held with the signing ceremony.


Wattbox featured in EPSRC Press Release

Peter and the Wattbox19 February 2010

Peter has been quietly developing the technologies behind the Wattbox, which was featured in a recent EPSRC Press Release. His work received a big boost when Professors Mark Rylatt and Li Shao secured a grant for further research and development within the “Carbon, Control and Comfort” project, jointly funded by EPSRC and E.on UK. The Wattbox’s heating controller sets its own schedule by learning householders’ habits, for example, the times they use hot water and switch on electrical appliances. From this, it sets the thermostat to suit the householder’s lifestyle taking account of the outside temperature. With simplified intuitive controls, the device and associated tools can help householders understand how their home is using energy at a particular time and what choices they can make to achieve lower energy consumption. This will be particularly helpful in encouraging people to adopt green technologies, such as heat pumps and solar hot water heating, which can be challenging in their complexity. Since 2007, Peter has been granted five patents in the areas of intelligent heating control and energy management.


Research poster won more prizes

11 February 2010

The well designed poster by Sherif Ezzeldin has won the First Prize in the Sciences Category and an overall Third Prize in the ‘Graduate Junction Poster Competition’. Among nearly 300 posters submitted to the competition, 10 entries from each of the “Arts and Humanities”, “Social Sciences and Health” and “Sciences” categories were selected by a panel of judges drawn from both academic and non-academic background. The selected entries were displayed on the Graduate Junction website to allow members vote for their favourite. Prizes were awarded to the highest placed entries in each category, and the top three overall winners. Sherif’s poster has already won a price in the Midlands regional competition last year; see this article. Well, an artistic eye, an inquisitive mind, and a bit of endeavour is all that needed to be outstanding.


Understanding the role of ICT in reducing energy consumption

01 February 2010

The JISC funded project, “Deliberative User Approach in a Living Lab”, or DUALL, was launched in January. The project aims to design and test an ICT tool connecting users to their energy consumption in the Queens Building, in order to understand the extent to which building users can impact the performance of the environment they are in. A deliberative mixed methods approach will be employed to ‘engage’ building users in conversations around energy, sustainability and ICT. Central to the objectives is to understand the role that presenting real-time information on energy consumption to building users modifies or affects behaviour. DUALL is the first externally funded research project under the “Living Lab” initiative. More PhD studentships may be made available in near future, to support research in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable technologies and sustainability studies.


IESD to launch postgraduate research conference

IESD banner15 December 2009

The Institute is hosting its first postgraduate research student conference on the 21st May, 2010.  It is intended to:

  • Provide research students an opportunity to talk about their research either by presentation or poster
  • Provide an opportunity to practice presentation skills in a friendly environment, with constructive feedback
  • Allow them to meet research students from other departments who are doing related research
  • Provide an opportunity to publish papers in the conference proceedings

The theme of the 2010 conference will be ENERGY AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. It is open to all DMU postgraduate students undertaking research in related fields. Suitable topics include the built environment; energy use; thermal comfort; climate change and sustainable development.

To submit an abstract before 26 February 2010, please use this form (on-campus access only).  For further inquiries, please contact: Mr Stephen Porritt or Mr Carl Holland.


email tel +44 (0)116 257 7979 or 7962 fax +44 (0)116 257 7977
Copyright © 2000-2010 IESD, De Montfort University. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer