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.

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.

Transport Day of Green Week

By Jemima C Stockton, on 24 October 2012

This year UCL is one of three of the Capital’s universities taking part in a Transport for London-run pilot scheme for cycle safety ambassadors that aims, through a programme of training, workshops and incentives, to make cycling a safer, smarter choice for staff and students.

Therefore, transport –most manifestly as a voluminous lorry – took centre stage in the Quad last Thursday marking the end of Green Week whilst celebrating the start of the year of the bicycle at UCL. And the many transport-related activities on tap in the quad served as a taster of what is to come. Arguably the most delicious, and certainly one of the most popular, was the pedalled-powered DIY fruit smoothie, although many could only watch and drool as they queued for the much coveted services of three Dr Bikes.

These highly skilled bicycled mechanics, provided by the London Cycling Campaign and Camden Council, worked tirelessly to service and perform minor repairs (free of charge) on the shed loads of bikes that rolled up with their owners. 
With – or without – a clean bill of health, bikes brought to Transport day could also be security marked by a member of the Metropolitan police on hand in the Quad.
But a safe and secure bike is no good without a road-savvy rider. Hence, the tipper truck. Cyclists had the opportunity to climb into the cab of the lorry to get a driver’s view of cyclists. As a cyclist, I decided to have a go and sat in the driver’s seat. A police officer, sitting on the passenger’s  side instructed me to look in the wing mirrors whilst another police officer cycled alongside the lorry, in and out of the driver’s blindspot. Most striking to me was the size of the blindspot and the invisibility of the cyclist. The lessons I learned were invaluable – placing yourself anywhere between kerb and lorry is potentially lethal: it is best to stay well behind or in front and, if possible, make eye contact with the driver.
Another of the day’s safety lessons came in the more light-hearted form of the No Rush Slow Bike Race. The goal of the race was to take as much time as possible to navigate an obstacle course, noticing and negotiating hazards such as unexpectedly opened doors of parked cars and, upon completion, to take home specific messages regarding safe cycling around the Capital (as well as a goody bag containing 2007 Tour de France memorabilia including a rather natty silk scarf and a less lovely baseball cap) .
See more photos from the day in the Green UCL facebook album.

Materials Day of Green Week UCL

By Rosemary Willatt, on 24 October 2012

Wednesday October 17th was the second day of Green Week UCL – materials day. We wanted to get everyone thinking about what we buy and where it comes from.

We held a books and clothes exchange with MODO, UCL’s fashion society, and received plenty of donations.

We were also joined by Paul Monk who runs WARPit at UCL. WARPit is an online portal which allows staff to exchange goods within UCL. This reduces the university’s carbon emissions and expenditure. Free coffee mugs were available to staff who signed up for WARPit on the day.

Mapping for Change joined us again and ran the track your top/trousers challenge – participants mapped out where in the their tops and trousers came from on the Green UCL map.

This was also the second day of the Green Week UCL Poster Competition. There was a people’s choice prize for the winning poster. Around 70 people submitted 900 ratings of the posters over the two days. The winning poster was:

Ilan Adler*, Karen Hudson-Edwards** and Luiza Campos*

(*Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, UCL** Dept. of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Birkbeck, University of London)

Drinking the rain: Quality issues and technological advances.

The prize was presented by Alexi Marmot, Professor of Facility and Environment Management and Head of the Bartlett School of Graduate Studies to present the prize. Alexi was the founding member of the Bartlett Green Action Team, “a network of staff and students who work together to make the Bartlett a more environmentally friendly place to work and study.”

See more photos from the day in our facebook album.

Food Day of Green Week UCL

By Rosemary Willatt, on 24 October 2012

Tuesday October 16th was the first day of Green Week UCL – food day. We wanted to get everyone thinking about what we eat and where it comes from.

Outside in the Quad we were joined by Alex Hough and Calum Bowden for some food planting. They are two of the founders of Bentham’s Farm, a food-growing cooperative at UCL halls in Camden. They planted apple trees – we are looking forward to seeing leaves and maybe blossoms and fruit on them next year!

The planters, soil and plants were supplied by London Wildlife Trust, including polystyrene snowballs from a Christmas display reused to create drainage!

Toby Jones from the North London Waste Authority was also there giving out recipe cards and portion measuring equipment in a ‘food waste pack’ to help people to reduce their food waste.

We were working with Mapping for Change to produce a map of your favourite places to eat around UCL – see the Green UCL map for the results.

Chartwells organised various different types of sustainable food and a nutritionist who brought along a huge lump of fat to get people thinking about what they are putting into their bodies!

In addition to all of the activities in the Quad, it was the first day of the Green Week UCL Poster Competition. Posters were exhibited in the South Cloisters around the topic of the environment and we received nearly thirty submissions from across UCL’s disciplines – the abstracts are on our website! See more photos from the day in our facebook album.


Students on new degree course design system to monitor water consumption in the UCL Chemistry Department

By A P ( Tony ) Overbury, on 15 October 2012

I had a great time on Friday morning working with colleagues in Operational Maintenance and ten students who are taking the Engineering Thinking module of the new UCL BASc degree programme.  The purpose of this morning’s work was to assist the students in their task to design and implement an automated water sub-metering network which will provide feedback from various water reduction initiatives.

I’ve previously provided water consumption data for the Christopher Ingold Building to Professor of Chemistry, Andrea Sella, who has worked with colleagues to reduce consumption within the building by more than half.  Having achieved the quick wins we need better to understand the consumption associated with different activities within the building.  The water sub-meter network which the students are designing will enable us to:

  • Separate out water usage by the district heating system from other building users such as kitchens, toilets, teaching and research labs
  • Investigate the effect of water flow reduction on water hygiene in the laboratory environment
  • Test the effect of various water reduction interventions in toilet facilities

The work will be particularly interesting as successful water reduction initiatives can be rolled out across the estate.

We met the student and their course leader, Dr Sarah Bell, in the Christopher Ingold Building where we were given an essential safety induction briefing by the Head of Operational Maintenance, George Aldis.


Dr Sarah Bell and the group of BASc students

 George Aldis briefing the group of BASs students

This was followed by an explanation of the district heating system by George’s deputy, Rob Durno and an overview of the building water delivery system by Plumbing Chargehand, Dickie Thomas.

Rob Durno and Dickie Thomas showing the pressurised water system

We then went on a practical tour of the building where we were able to identify the various components of the water system and potential locations for the water meters.   We will visit again next week to look more closely at the intended meter locations and to look at the feasibility and challenges of installing meters in those locations.

Tony Overbury