Archive for November, 2012

Topic Lunch Presentation – “Mapping personal thermal comfort – an application to dwellings” by Stephanie Gauthier (UCL Energy Institute)

By Stephanie Gauthier, on 29 November 2012

What do people do to warm-up when they become too cold in their home?

This simple question is both surprisingly important and hard to answer. It is important because about a sixth of all the UK’s energy is used to heat homes. It is hard to answer because most of what people do is done out of habit, and they find it hard to reliably remember these habits and tell us about them.

This lunch presentation introduced the methods applied in my PhD project, where a mixed-methods framework is used to map people’s daily activity, by measuring environmental and physiological variables. One of the key aims is to gather accurate measurements using ‘discreet’ observatory systems in order to have a minimum impact on occupants’ behaviour. By using ubiquitous sensors a rich picture of people’s variability in daily activity can be drawn over continuous timeframe. See the example output below showing monitored heart-rate and accelerometer output over a 2 hours sequence for 1 participant. The results from both sensors were combined, and then validated by a visual diary.

In conclusion, mapping occupants’ thermal discomfort responses can potentially help understand, conceptualise and influence some of the practices driving energy demand.

Publications of this research may be found under this link:

This presentation was given as part of the Environmental Sustainability Topic Lunch Series.

Portrait of Global Aerosols

By Laura Tomson, on 22 November 2012


An amazing picture that depicts global atmospheric modeling, which is a unique tool to study the role of weather within Earth’s climate system.  It is a beautiful reminder to think about what we are releasing into the atmosphere, and the affect it might have on the rest of our planet.

Ecological International amateur film competition

By Elizabeth Lee, on 20 November 2012

Each year tvebio run an international competition for short amateur films about ecological issues.

This is the link to the 15 year old finalist from UK; Both parents studied medicine at UCL.

Each view earns a vote. The deadline is 10 January 2013.

Inspiring change for the environment.

Bartlett Green Action Team

By Louise A Raynham, on 19 November 2012

GAT, as we’re better known, was founded in the Autumn of 2008 by Prof Alexi Marmot, an expert in facilities and environment management.  She recognised that sustainability was going to become more and more important and decided to set up the focus group, originally based in the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, to help bring environmental issues to the forefront of departmental decisions.

That year, a very successful poster competition was launched explaining to people how to use the then waste system.  Since then, GAT has become a faculty-wide institution and is now chaired by Faculty Manager Helen Fisher, with Dr Marcella Ucci (BSGS) as vice chair.  GAT is currently following up on a series of recommendations from a ‘Sustainability Review’ commissioned for the Faculty last year as well as meeting people from other universities to share ideas.

GAT members recently visited Imperial College to see (and smell!) their on-site food composter.


GAT was the backbone behind Wates House winning the Bronze Award in the Green Impact Programme in 2012.   We’re hoping for bigger and better things across the faculty in 2013.




Junk in the Trunk 2012

By Sam E Atack, on 14 November 2012

June is a very busy time in the student accommodation with residents saying goodbye to old friends, moving into new places with new people or heading home for the summer. Whatever the destination it is inevitable that you will have to clear stuff from the old place or get stuff for the new place. ‘Junk in the Trunk’ a reuse and recycling scheme run by student volunteers to try to assist with the end of year stuff problem and prevent thousands of unwanted items ending up in landfill.

In 2010 the Junk in the Trunk pilot scheme was set up by UCL Student Accommodation in collaboration with UCLU Volunteering and a charitable organisation called CRISP www.crispej.org.uk/.

So who does what?

UCL Student Accommodation funds the project, provides the collection areas and helps promote the scheme.

UCLU Volunteering promotes the scheme and recruits team leaders and helpers who then ensure timely checks, tidy up days and now shops are staffed.

CRISP collect, sort and redistribute collected items to a wide variety of organisations. Items that cannot be reused are recycled.

Now in its third year it has expanded from covering half the residential sites to all sites. This year saw the introduction of pop-up shops running in September at the two largest halls. The pop-ups were a great success; items that were donated in June were then made available on a pay-what-you-think-it-is-worth basis with all proceeds going to the charity Centrepoint www.centrepoint.org.uk/.

We aim to expand or improve the scheme each year, next year we hope to have more pop-up shop to re-distribute goods in house. The shops primary purpose is to unite unwanted goods with new owners but they also generate interest in the scheme as a whole which in turn helps volunteer recruitment. The Charitable side of the scheme is also significant with donations making a real difference to the community, the environment as well as people in need locally.

In 2012 Junk in the Trunk prevented almost 5 tons of goods from going to landfill, it helped numerous charities, started several conversations about the environment and quite a few people got a lovely toaster!


Topic Lunch Presentation – “Urbanisation in China” by Alastair McMahon (BioRegional)

By Rosemary Willatt, on 7 November 2012

Alastair McMahon Last Monday Alastair McMahon (BioRegional) gave the third presentation of the Environmental Sustainability Topic Lunch series entitled “Urbanisation in China.”

Alastair discussed recent changes in Chinese styles of living such as rural-to-urban migration, with 350 million new urban dwellers predicted by 2020, and a shift from an export-focussed to a consumer-focussed economy.


These changes, combined with economic pressures, present several sustainability challenges for China.

The grid carbon intensity is twice that of the UK since generation is mostly from coal. Alastair showed a photo of a barge which collects coal from riverside coal distribution docks on the Yangtze River.

The explosion in residential development, mostly in the form of high-rise buildings, are typically arranged in large gated communities with limited shared space and access to public services and retail, thus encouraging car use.

Waste disposal by incineration is expanding, threatening traditional waste reuse and recycling through informal networks.

Thank you Alastair for a very interesting presentation and we look forward to the next presentation on November 26th:

Stephanie Gauthier (UCL Energy Institute) “Mapping personal thermal comfort – an application to dwellings”

To see the full list of upcoming presentations visit the Environmental Sustainability Topic Lunch page.


WARPit at Green Week UCL

By Paul A Monk, on 2 November 2012

The Materials day on Wednesday 17th October gave me a chance to demonstrate the UCL WARPit scheme.  WARPit is an online programme that allows users to make unwanted items available to other staff members at UCL – it’s a sort of cross between Ebay and Freecycle.  The staff have to register to use the system but it is totally free of charge.  Any items of non-hazardous university equipment can be advertised using the scheme and we’ve had everything from lab coats to cupboards put on the system.  The scheme allow unwanted items to be reused and saves money, waste and carbon emissions, preventing new items being bought unecessarily.

Photo shows Paul Monk demonstrating the WARPit systemAs an incentive to register we alo gave away reusable travel mugs to staff signed up at the WARPit stand.  The mug is not only reusable but it also entitles owners to a 10p discount off the cost of a 12oz hot drink from both Chartwells and UCL Union catering outlets.

Students were not left out as we asked them to complete a questionnaire about how WARPit might be used to support student life.  All the student who helped with this also received a travel mug.

There was a steady stream of interest throughout the day from both staff and students. Students were particularly excited by the idea and more than happy suggest ideas about reuse.


Further details about the UCL WARPit scheme and how to register may be found at www.ucl.ac.uk/estates/waste/warpit.