By Lisa Iszatt, on 29 May 2016
David Adams, Technical Director, Willmott Dixon Energy Services (WDES)
Following an earlier career in manufacturing, David moved into the construction sector supporting the setup and growth of WDES. Initial focus was on domestic and commercial low energy retrofit as well as engaging with issues such as: creating consumer demand, the performance gap & overheating. He wrote an early paper on creating ‘Pay As You Save’ financing of low energy home retrofit, the idea behind ‘Green Deal’ – although differently structured. As a Director of the Zero Carbon Hub he has chaired various multi-stakeholder task groups reporting to the Housing Minister.
Despite the current challenges he remains committed to driving improvement in the energy performance of the UK’s homes. He is Co-Chair of EnergiesprongUK the organisation set up to develop and promote the Dutch concept of net zero energy bill retrofits, is chair of the Advisory Board for the London-Loughborough Centre for Doctoral Research in Energy Demand, a Director of Sustainable Homes and one of the founders of the Retrofit Academy.
Pete is a visionary sustainable developer with a focus on sustainable housing, and has a growing portfolio of development projects in the South East. He has been a leading figure of the GHA for nearly 10 years. This group of sustainable housing developers, building professionals, supply chain partners, academics and other industry supporters collaborate on joint research projects on the performance gap, overheating avoidance, climate change mitigation and ‘good homes’ delivery – such as innovative finance and alternate delivery models for housing. The GHA also runs a series of events on the ‘good homes’ theme including an annual conference.
Previously, as former MD and co-founder of BioRegional Quintain Pete was responsible for zero carbon development projects in Brighton, Middlesbrough and London, as well as the conceptual development and implementation strategy of the One Planet Living set of sustainability principles. Pete is a member of theTarmac Group external sustainability panel, a Fellow of the Leeds Sustainability Institute, a member of theNational Energy Foundation advisory council and a consultant to Innovate UK(formerly the Technology Strategy Board).
Jez Wingfield, Senior Technician in Physical Building Performance at the UCL Energy Institute. Jez has worked in building performance assessment for over 14 years for various organisations including National Energy Foundation, Willmott Dixon Energy Services and Leeds Metropolitan University. He has a wide-ranging experience of collecting site-based performance data and carrying out physical measurements, and managed the research programmes for several important housing field trials including Stamford Brook and Elm Tree Mews. Jez was also involved in the Part L Building Regulation Reviews in 2006 and 2010. He was a member of the BINDT Airtightness Testing Technical Committee, the ATTMA Airtightness Testing Scheme Governing Committee and the Testing Working Group on the Zero Carbon Hub’s Design versus As-built project.
Ivan Korolija Research Associate in Building Physics, Modelling and Programming at UCL Energy Institute. Ivan has a decade of experience in the design of low-energy buildings, including heat transfer, air conditioning and ventilation systems with particular focus on building load dynamics and energy management. Research interests include optimal control strategies for energy efficient air conditioning, transient and steady state simulation and modelling of buildings and HVAC systems using dynamic simulation software. He was previously a Research Fellow at the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development De Montfort University where he completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering.
Georgios Papachristos, Research Associate at the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (IEDE). George is currently working on the ‘TOP’ project: ‘Total Performance’ of Low Carbon Buildings in China and the UK with a specialism in system dynamics modelling and simulation. He is also carrying out modelling work on platform competition and macro-economic effects on CO2 emissions. Previously Georgios was a post doc at Delft Technical University where he worked on the inertia of the Dutch household stock, algorithmic governance, and technology platform competition.
Faye Wade. Faye recently completed her PhD research at the UCL Energy Institute investigating the role of central heating installers in influencing the energy consumed through domestic space heating. The research applied ethnography, including shadowing heating installers as they fit systems in homes, conducting semi-structured interviews with heating installers, and attending industry training sessions and events. Following a successful viva examination, she is currently writing a series of publications from this work, whilst conducting some short-term project work and working part time as teaching assistant for a Masters module on Energy, People & Behaviour.
By Anthony S Marsh, on 17 May 2016
Join us on Tuesday 7th June at 5.30pm in the Jevons room at Central House for the third Energy Demand in Practice seminar.
This time we will be exploring career paths and opportunities in areas associated with the energy performance gap – the difference between the designed and operational performance of buildings.
Pete Halsall (Sustainable developer and director of the Good Homes Alliance) and David Adams (Technical Director at Willmott Dixon Energy Services) will be talking about their personal career journeys.
Afterwards they will be joined in a panel discussion by UCL Energy Institute’s Jez Wingfield, Ivan Korolija and Georgios Papachristos. The evening will be chaired by recent UCL Energy Institute graduate Faye Wade.
The event will be followed by networking drinks and nibbles in Harry’s Café (1st floor kitchen, Central House, UCL).
Tickets are available here.
By Pamela Fennell, on 17 February 2016
We are very excited to introduce Lynne and Giulia of UK Power Networks and Peter from Green Running who will be joining us on Monday 7th March to talk about their careers and share their experiences of working on the technological side of energy demand reduction. They will be joined by Will and Daniel from the Energy Institute to answer your questions in a panel discussion chaired by Jenny Love. You can book your tickets here!
Lynne has a MEng in Electronic and Electrical engineering from University of Strathclyde. After graduation she joined UK Power Networks. She holds the position of Low Carbon Tier II Project Lead within UK Power Networks’ Innovation Department. As part of her role she is Project Lead for energywise, a Low Carbon Network funded project to enable and encourage fuel-poor households to change their patterns of use. She also oversees a portfolio of innovation projects advancing the way condition and failure modes of electricity distribution assets are managed. In 2014 she was named as the Rising Star in the UK Energy Innovation Awards for her vision in delivering innovative changes in the electricity industry.
Giulia holds the position of Innovation Engineer within UK Power Networks’ Innovation team. She is currently covering the role of deputy manager for the £5.5m flagship project energywise. Prior to joining UK Power Networks in March 2014, Giulia was a Research Associate in the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge, focusing on the development of novel nanomaterials for low cost and flexible optoelectronics. She holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cambridge and received a MSc in Condensed Matter Physics and a BSc in Physics from the University of Pisa, Italy.
Peter graduated in Computers, Electronics and Communication Engineering from the University of Bath. Upon graduation he founded Austin Consultants, now the UKs highest certified LabVIEW consultancy and in 2009 he span out Green Running, a company specialising in real time Energy monitoring and Power Load disaggregation. Green Running have recently been invested in by Centrica, owners of British Gas and were finalists for “Best Smart Grid Innovation” in the Energy Innovation Awards. He is also the Co-Founder of the European NILM (Non Intrusive Load Monitoring) workshop. www.GreenRunnning.com @greenrunningUK
Will is a Lecturer at the Energy Institute and Institute of Sustainable Resources at UCL. Until 2010, he was a Policy Advisor with the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE), in Canada, where he worked on climate change policy and governance. He has previously worked as Research Manager at the Community Energy Association, where he advised local governments on climate and energy policy.
Daniel recently joined UCL’s Energy institute as a research associate from ITM power where he worked on hydrogen energy systems modelling. Daniel holds an Engineering Doctorate from Manchester University where his research focussed on Techno-economic modelling and design of redox flow batteries for utility-scale energy storage.
Jenny is a Research Associate in energy and buildings. Prior to this she worked as a Consultant at Element Energy for two years, in the built environment team, where she completed a number of pieces of quantitative analysis for clients including DECC, CCC, energy companies, historic buildings charities and private investors. During this time she worked on district heating, heat pumps, dynamic building simulation, fuel poverty and a number of other areas.
By Pamela Fennell, on 20 January 2016
Join us on Monday 7th March at 5.30pm in the Jevons Room at Central House for the second Energy Demand in Practice seminar.
This time we will be exploring career paths and opportunities in technological responses to energy demand reduction.
Lynne McDonald and Giulia Privitera from UK Power Networks and Peter Davies of Green Running will be talking about their own career paths and answering your questions about the field.
There will be networking drinks and nibbles afterwards!
By Virginia Gori, on 11 December 2015
Our first Energy Demand in Practice event “Is there life after PhD?” aimed at exploring the range of possible careers in energy and investigating how to use at best the skills acquired in the PhD. During the evening, Dr Zack Gill (Willmott Dixon) and Dr Victoria Gay (Cofley – UK Energy Services) briefly introduced their life after PhD, their career paths and the lessons they have learned along the way. Then, they were joined by Dr Nish Rehmatulla and Dr Giorgio Castagneto-Gissey (both UCL Energy Institute) for a panel discussion chaired by UCL Energy Institute PhD student Carrie Behar.
Zack finished his EngD 4 years ago at University of Bristol. During the EngD he was working with a company which proved to be a very positive experience for him. After the completion of his studies Zack started thinking about possible options for his career, although at that point he was not sure about what option would have been the best for him. To explore possibilities, he started to build his network in the field, which happened quite quickly given the small number of people in the field, and used his contacts to find out where he would have liked to be with his new job. A key challenge for Zack was getting used to switching between projects very frequently – this was a big change from academia but he came to see the frequent change of problem to solve as an opportunity to learn new stuff, and he started looking at his job as an ongoing project. Zack found that taking a sabbatical after 18 months of work helped him with the adjustment between a PhD and life in industry.
Zack says: “there are a lot of opportunities out there, each person needs to find his root. People outside academia may not understand a PhD and you may need to manage it a little bit, for example people may expect you know everything!”.
Victoria has a mixed, non-energy-related background. She worked for the network rail during her undergrads, visiting construction sites, followed by a part time PhD in biodiversity. After the PhD Victoria worked in an energy investment company, which involved the creation of investment projects in renewables. Victoria’s current job as strategy manager is her favourite job so far. It involves energy efficiency consultancy on a broad spectrum, including implementation of energy-efficiency measures in buildings, development of new products, competitive analysis also accounting for legal aspects and costs.
Even though Victoria’s PhD was not related to her post-PhD jobs, she says: “I think the skills I learned during my postgraduate studies – like communication and presentation skills, data analysis, budgeting and time management – have been of great importance for my after-PhD jobs: everyday skills are not necessarily subject specific”.
- Would you recommend doing an internship during the PhD?
Zack: in my experience it was very beneficial; it was an opportunity to see what industry does and I enjoyed the academia vs. industry balance.
Victoria: if you are undecided about what to do next, an internship is a very good opportunity. I met one of my previous bosses at an UCL event.
Nish: an NGO was interested in the topic and research I was doing for my PhD and I ended up spending 3 months there. There were different dynamics there compared to academia, but I managed to transfer some of my knowledge to them.
Giorgio: During my MSc I was not thinking about pursuing an academic career – I was keen to go to work in industry, or banking and earn money. However, by the end of the MSc, when decisions had to be taken, I realised that I wanted a job where I could manage my time and make an impact, so I ended up doing a PhD.
- How well were you be able to sell the skills gained during the PhD?
Zack: a lot of companies in the field have research departments or are affiliated to an academic department. You need to know what is going on at the cutting edge and there are huge benefits to link academia and industry.
- Some people say that if you go outside academia after the PhD then it’s hard to get back in; is it true?
Giorgio: it depends on how long you stay in industry; I would not spend too much time outside academia. I recommend to stay out no longer than half a year or a year at the most and, in the meanwhile, to do something exceptional.
Nish: it’s up to you and what you really like. I like academia and its flexibility, so I never had time off. However, both my supervisors stayed 5 to 10 years in industry and they acquired the credibility to come back in academia.
Giorgio: I worked with somebody who was outside academia for 15 years and then came back; however, he was already a professor before leaving. Generally, I think it is possible but not a great idea because you would lose touch with the academic world. It could be hard to get back because you would have left an evolving network, so someone else would have taken your place.
Victoria: I have not ruled out coming back to academia one day: if you have good projects, it may be possible.
Zack: problems are not strictly related to academia or industry in itself. Wilmott Dixon has some research going on, and if I decided I would like to go back to academia I feel I would have a lot to bring back.
- It seems to me that in the UK it’s harder to sell a PhD. In Switzerland a PhD is widely recognised, but in the UK it seems to be hard to sell. Do you agree?
Victoria: in services people generally are quite impressed by PhDs (although there is only one other PhD in my company). Self motivation is one of the biggest skills a PhD has and I never found it hard to sell my PhD.
Giorgio: Sometimes having a PhD could mean being overqualified for a job. Also, I would be careful not to accept the first offer you get – for example in my case I did not accept a position as a Research Assistant and I was lucky because otherwise I wouldn’t have got my current job as Research Associate/Co-Investigator. Holding a PhD is very attractive to many employers. I would recommend accepting a Research Assistant position only if you do not have a PhD, otherwise I would look for a Research Associate position. Anyway, all universities in the UK have different appointment systems, so it is worth considering that one position as Research Fellow, for example, is not necessarily better than ones as a Research Associate since this depends on the University job titles.
Victoria: I would not necessarily think that someone saying that a PhD is overqualified is bad thing: it means that that job would be boring for you!
- Is your day to day job as you expected when doing your PhD?
Nish: my background is in management. I did 50% management and 50% research (both consultancy and academic). So, it was nice!
Giorgio: Yes, I was looking to have some freedom on what to work on. In my case, this is happening; however, to have complete choice on your project, you must first win a fellowship. In academia, if you are a research fellow you can work on what you want since you will have written a successful research proposal. If you are a research associate you will work on someone else’s funded project, which still entails some freedom of choice on which research question to answer, although it must relate to a given topic. I was looking to manage my own time and do whatever interested me to some extent. The good thing about being a Research Associate is the fact that you will most probably be working on a more high-level project compared to that for a fellowship since it is a project that was likely written by a higher-level academic. So you have the chance of entering the market in a high position and to make an impact under such circumstances.
Victoria: no, it’s not very different from what I expected during my PhD. I wanted to do different things anyway at different stages.
Zack: At Uni I did a course on negotiation and I thought it wasn’t relevant, but actually it has proven to be very important. You will achieve a good position if you know what you want. Maybe in 5-10 years I can be in a different position, but for now this is sort of what I expected because I have told Willmott Dixon what I want to do.
- Do you feel we are there in terms of gender equality?
Victoria: I had different feelings in different jobs. In some places it can be a disadvantage, but for example in my current company I don’t feel it as a disadvantage, although there aren’t many women.
Zack: the girls I work with are great in their job and they do not get special treatment because of gender.
Nish: The UCL Energy Institute and UCL in general tend to be better than industry. Things are improving, but there’s still a long way to go.
Giorgio: I believe women are treated perfectly equally and this is reflected in the rules of UCL and other institutions in the academic context. The number of women has increased incredibly in academia (around 50%). Once I have found that I could not apply for a position I would have liked to because it was for women only.
Victoria: negotiation skills may be a very important means when negotiating for job, also to overcome inequalities.
By Pamela Fennell, on 1 October 2015
Monday 12th October at 17.30. You can book tickets here
Victoria undertook her PhD in the Geography department at UCL looking into the sustainability of anthropogenic practices in river landscapes. Alongside her PhD, Victoria worked in a variety of roles including as Senior Analyst and Product Development Lead for an American energy investment company, The Palmetto Group. Since graduation, Victoria has worked within the Energy Services division of Cofely GDF Suez, first as in energy procurement and currently as Sales Strategy Manager. In this role she is responsible for the development and commercialisation of new products and services across Cofely Energy Services and supports longer term strategic vision for the business.
Zack completed his Engineering Doctorate (EngD) at University of Bristol looking at the real-life performance of buildings by utilising and developing post occupancy evaluation building performance evaluation techniques. Since joining Willmott Dixon Energy Services, he has continued to develop energy efficient retrofit projects, post-occupancy evaluation (POE) and building performance evaluation (BPE) techniques with the aim to improve the provision of truly high performance buildings.
Giorgio is an energy economist and econometrician. He has recently joined the UCL Energy Institute, where he is an Associate and Principal Researcher for Economic Policy on the UK-funded RESTLESS project (EPSRC). He is currently devising economic models to understand the feasibility of energy storage technologies for consumers and transmission operators. He has published on the EU market integration of UK interconnectors and on the impact of policy incentives in EU energy markets. Giorgio obtained his Ph.D. from Imperial College and previously worked at the Italian Ministry of the Economy and Finance.
Nishat is a Research Associate at the UCL Energy Institute and is involved in the Shipping and Changing Climates project, where he is responsible for managing the work package dealing with supply and demand interaction, investigating the implementation of energy efficiency measures and barriers to their uptake as well as policies to accelerate transition to a low carbon industry. He gained his PhD in Energy and Transport ‘Market failures and barriers affecting energy efficient operations in shipping’ from UCL in 2014. He has a BSc in Management and an MSc in Energy, Trade & Finance, both from Cass Business School, City University.
Carrie has recently completed her PhD in the UCL Energy Institute looking at how people adapt to living with innovative whole house ventilation strategies in low energy dwellings. Carrie is a senior sustainability consultant for Useful Simple Projects and is the Social Media Editor for Building Research and Information Journal.
By Pamela Fennell, on 1 October 2015
Our first ever seminar is taking place on 12th October 2015, 17.30 – 19.30 in Central House.
If you’ve ever wondered just how wide the range of possible careers in energy really is and how to use the skills you’ve acquired to best effect then Energy Demand in Practice might answer some of your questions.
Zack Gill (Willmott Dixon) and Victoria Gay (Cofley – UK Energy Services) will be talking about their career paths post-PhD and the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Then they will be joined by Nish Rehmatulla and Giorgio Castagneto-Gissey for questions chaired by Energy Institute PhD student Carrie Behar.
You can book tickets here
By Pamela Fennell, on 9 September 2015
Energy Demand in Practice is seminar series focussing on the different roles and opportunities available within the energy demand field. The aim of the seminars is to explore the range of career paths that are available to PhD graduates, providing students with inspiration, advice and networking opportunities.