The Institute undertakes multi-disciplinary research in the following areas.
- LZCTs: the development and deployment of energy efficiency techniques and both active and passive building-integrated low and zero carbon energy technologies (LZCTs) including daylighting. Projects have investigated: solar powered cooling in non-domestic buildings; passive downdraught evaporative cooling for hot dry climates; photovoltaic installations; pulse combustion boilers for heating; solar air systems for ventilation preheating; innovative light-directing technologies; evacuated glazing systems; micro-ChP systems and ground source heat pumps.
- Low energy buildings: the practical deployment and evaluation of techniques for reducing the energy consumption of buildings. Projects have investigated: the behaviour of stack ventiation strategies, a hybrid natural and mechanical ventilation system; passive cooling using under-floor labyrinths and a down-draught technique; innovative daylighting systems.
- Urban energy management: the development of practical tools for regional and local authorities, planners, managers of large estates and energy consultancies; local and regional carbon emission baselines and reduction strategies; GIS-based tools to predict energy demand, renewable energy potential and impacts on the electricity supply network.
- People and climate change: concerns individual action, communication and climate change. Projects have investigated: the emerging 'soft' energy infrastructure of smaller scale, distributed, low-carbon technologies; how best to communicate and motivate community involvement and individual behavioural change; smart metering of domestic energy supplies.
- Simulation systems: to develop the models, simulation systems, analysis methods, building control strategies and data collection techniques that underpin the above research areas. Projects have: investigated large eddy simulation as a route to evaluating ventilation systems; developed a sophisticated human thermal comfort model; developed models for intelligent control of renewable energy systems.
Work in these five areas is undertaken with the ongoing aim of:
- Building the evidence base: for evaluating the real efficacy of policies, practices, technologies and designs intended to reduce carbon emissions the basis of which has been established. Projects are monitoring energy use in over 600 domestic and 200 non-domestic UK buildings.
- Fostering curiosity-driven research: which can yield ‘spin-out’ projects and new avenues of endeavour of value within the built environment and beyond.