Examination of the performance gap for one of UCL’s newly retrofitted buildings

By Vasiliki Kontopoulou, on 12 July 2015

I am an MSc Environmental Design and Engineering student at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College of London, currently conducting my dissertation thesis in collaboration with UCL Estates and Green UCL. I will be giving updates on the Green UCL blog to share my research into one of UCL’S newly retrofitted buildings over the coming months. More specifically, I will be looking in depth at the gap between the predicted and actual energy performance of Cruciform hub using hygrothermal monitoring, occupant comfort surveys and dynamic building thermal modelling. Possible causes causing this discrepancy will be examined in detail.

1A brief history of the building

Cruciform Building is a Grade II listed building (Date of listing: 12/3/1974) located on Gower Street in central London, in the London Borough of Camden. It is situated inside the Bloomsbury Conservation Area and it was firstly designed as a hospital block by Alfred and Paul Waterhouse.

The building’s diagonal plan, with a single service core and radiating wings, provided light and ventilation for the wards.

Materials were selected for their durability; hard red brick and terracotta were more economic and less susceptible to erosion than stone.

In 2000, a refurbishment was undertaken through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI), converting it into the Wolfson Center for Biomedical Research and the pre-clinical training facility for UCL’s medical school.

On the 12th July 2012, as part of the UCL Masterplan, a new hub and project learning space for the students of medical school was proposed on the basement of the building. Quiet study areas, a computer cluster and group workspaces were designed aiming not to overpopulate the spaces, as this would inevitably lead to uncomfortable conditions.


Computer cluster


Group workspace







Source: Stage D of Cruciform Student Hub report (12th October 2012)

Typical energy use of the  whole building 





Data obtained from:  https://platform.carbonculture.net/places/cruciform-building/1180/

Display Energy Certificate / CO2 emissions


Data obtained from:  https://platform.carbonculture.net/places/cruciform-building/1180/

Methodology of the research


Next steps…

Collection of monitoring data

Conduction of questionnaire surveys

Simulation of the modelled building on IES VE to extract information regarding the predicted energy performance

Comparison with benchmarks

Analysis of preliminary results


Student: Vasiliki Kontopoulou

Supervisor: Anna Mavrogianni

In collaboration with:

UCL Estates: Joanna Marshall Cook

Green UCL: Alex Green


Reasons to cycle…

By Alex Green, on 24 March 2015

Our friends at Cycle Confident and Transport for London have produced this great infographic on reasons to cycle around London. And if you’d like to boost your confidence, learn to cycle more safely, or just learn new routes and get a free lunch, make sure to book your place on one of our guided cycle rides around London.


Hydrogen-powered mulled apple juice…

By Alex Green, on 9 December 2014

As part of the Christmas Switch Off, we teamed up with UCell, a group of PhD students pioneering the use of hydrogen as a fuel source.

Using their fuel cell to produce electricity from hydrogen, we powered a slow cooker to make spiced apple juice. See below for pics of the cell in action.

Help save energy over the winter break. Find out more and take part in the Christmas Switch Off.

2014_12_09 hydrogen powered mulled apple juice V1

Are you ready for the Christmas Switch Off?

By Alex Green, on 27 November 2014

We’re getting ready to launch the Christmas Switch Off, a UCL-wide campaign to save energy by switching off unnecessary lights, appliances and equipment over the holidays.

In the meantime, here’s an animated Jeremy Bentham switching off UCL…


New permanent bike pump and repair stand installed in Foster Court

By Alex Green, on 25 November 2014

You can now keep your bike in tip-top condition with the new permanent pump and repair stand (with tools) that’s been installed in Foster Court, just off Malet Place…

2014_11_20 new bike repair stand montage V1

We’re recruiting!

By Alex Green, on 21 November 2014

Want to join UCL’s Sustainability Team and help improve the sustainability of our business and projects?

Want to receive high quality training and support?

Want to work in an exciting environment with a diverse range of students, staff and academics?

Find out more and apply now (closing date November 30th 2014).

You can find out more about the work of the Sustainability Team here. And don’t forget to Like and follow to get more regular updates too!


Will your department take part in UCL Green Impact?

By Alex Green, on 6 November 2014

Green Impact, UCL’s annual sustainability programme is now live for the 2014-15 period, and all departments and divisions are encouraged to get involved.

Green Impact runs from October 2014 – June 2015. You can find out about the programme here, or just contact the Sustainability Team.

2014_10_30 Green Impact infographic for the Week@UCL V2 SM

Why’s there a number on my building?

By Alex Green, on 29 October 2014

Seen the big numbers around UCL’s campus?

As part of Degrees of Change, we’ve rated most of UCL’s buildings in terms of their energy consumption per m2, ranked from lowest to highest energy use. The numbers on UCL buildings correspond to their position on the energy league table.

We know that some buildings will always use more energy due to factors like research activities; but we think it’s a great way to start identifying where UCL’s impacts are made, and what we can all do to tackle them. Find out how your building compares.

2014_10_28 building rating numbers degrees of change V1

Our vision for UCL

By Alex Green, on 4 August 2014

volunteering copy

As part of our new Annual Report, we’ve produced a series of infographics showing off different aspects of UCL’s impacts, approach to carbon and vision for the future.

This infographic is all about illustrating UCL’s five core sustainability aims, and how we can all contribute to achieving them. Enjoy!

02 Our vision of UCL A2_140620_paths

Click on the infographic to see if full-size.

Green UCL’s Annual Report published

By Alex Green, on 4 August 2014

Green UCL’s Annual Report for 2012-13 is now ready. This report showcases examples of best practice and sets out our progress in creating a more sustainable UCL.

book treeIn April 2013, the UCL Council approved the institution’s first Environmental Sustainability Strategy following extensive consultation across the institution. The strategy sets out five strategic aims:

  1. To create a campus which supports UCL’s activities in a sustainable way
  2. To enable, empower and support all UCL communities to address our environmental sustainability impacts
  3. To provide the education, advancement, dissemination and application of sustainable development
  4. To maximise the wider impact of UCL’s environmental sustainability activities at local, regional, national and international level through collaboration, partnership and communication
  5. To become a leader in environmental sustainability across the HE sector

annual report cover image

Our Annual Report sets out the progress which has been made in 2012/13 against these strategic aims and, in particular, the targets and commitments set out in the strategy. It provides some case studies of best practice and also a summary of our key goals for the coming year. 

Read Green UCL’s Annual Report 2012-13.