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UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Blogs from UCL IEDE Staff and Students


Archive for the '50 Years of EDE' Category

Health and Wellbeing in Buildings: A Real Appetite for Change

By Clive Shrubsole, on 18 November 2016

The Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in Non-Domestic Buildings half day conference at UCL Gustave Tuck Lecture, has to go down as one of the most successful and timely conferences yet.

The conference was jointly hosted by UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (IEDE), CIBSE Home Counties SE and the CIBSE Natural Ventilation Group, and organised by IEDE’s Marcella Ucci, Vivian Dorizas and Rachel Kempsell, Richard Davies of (ARUP)-CIBSE HCSE and Colin Ashford of -CIBSE HCSE and CIBSE NVG – who was crucial in suggesting the conference and establishing the initial contact between  CIBSE and UCL many years ago.

Tickets sold out very quickly and the venue was packed on the day. There was a vibrant and energetic atmosphere with both speakers and attendees enthusiastically taking part.

Along with two international speakers there were presentations  from UK based speakers representing  a variety of perspectives. It was clear from the scope and depth of subjects covered by the speakers, that the emerging emphasis on health, wellbeing and productivity in buildings has wide-ranging implications and has gained real traction with industry. The conference featured cutting-edge research, scientific evidence and case studies on health, wellbeing and productivity in relation to buildings in order to encourage stakeholders such as designers, consultants and environmental engineers to contribute to the design and management of healthier indoor environments, including supporting of clients. In addition, presentations included practical ideas on how to create healthy, comfortable and productive indoor environments with regards to indoor environmental quality (IAQ).

Videos of the individual speaker’s presentations are currently being uploaded to the UCL IEDE YouTube channel and will be available imminently

In her presentation, Marcella Ucci, Senior Lecturer at the UCL IEDE and course director of the new MSc on Health Wellbeing and Sustainability in Buildings of the Bartlett UCL, underpinned the need of new approaches to cover the performance gap and introduced the new UCL MSc on Health, Wellbeing and Sustainable Buildings of UCL* which fully covers the subject area. Marcella also raised the need for new models to investigate health & wellbeing outcomes and to build a business case study.

The real appetite for the subject was seen not only from the enthusiastic interchanges and questions to the speakers from the floor, but more by the fact that even after the networking event at the end of the conference, no-one had any desire to leave the building and had to be encouraged to leave, suggesting further such events are urgently needed.

*For more information about the New MSc, please email the Course Director,  Dr Marcella Ucci.
For administrative information, please contact Leila Tufekci.

Buildings, Health and Wellbeing: A New Emphasis

By Clive Shrubsole, on 23 May 2016

Dame Bradbury School

The reality of climate change has had a dramatic impact on the built environment world wide. ‘Energy efficiency’, ‘emissions reduction’ and ‘sustainable materials’ have all become common currency to architects and engineers. However, research on the impacts of energy efficient design on the indoor enviroment has created a new focus around the issues of ‘healthy environments’, ‘wellbeing’ and ‘increased productivity’.

Over the last 20 years ‘environmental sustainability’ in buildings has gone from a niche enterprise to a major driver of new business. This is no longer enough and buildings will also be expected to directly contribute to the health and wellbeing of the people who live, work and learn inside them. For buildings, ‘healthy’ will become the new green.

As this healthy revolution emerged backed up by research, more clients have started concerning themselves with a building’s impact on the performance of the people who use it every day eyeing potential productivity gains as well as health benefits.

Several initiatives within the built environment industry indicate a new level of interest in health, wellbeing and buildings. The World Green Building Council has launched the campaign Building Better Places for People, that “aims to create a world in which buildings support healthier and happier lives for those who occupy them”.

Several design, engineering, and consultancy firms have joined ‘the wellbeing revolution’ and are now launching new business divisions with a focus on health, wellbeing and productivity. ARUP Associates which provides engineering, design, planning, project management and consulting services worldwide has formed a partnership with Delos and the International Well Building Institute, to support the WELL Building Certification which offers a structured framework against which to optimise design and construction for human health. Atkins has developed an innovative engagement process and tool that enables clients and building users to prioritise aspects of the built environment that are important to their health and wellbeing. Priorities captured through the process are then translated into a building brief and specification.

UCL IEDE with its world wide expertise have been at the forefront of research into the health impacts of sustainable construction and have closely monitored this change in focus and the need for a new generation of trained professionals who are familiar with the issues of health in building construction.

This has culminated in the launch of  a new MSc in Health, Wellbeing and Sustainable Buildings Commencing in Sept 2017, this innovative Master degree will provide its students with the knowledge, critical understanding and skills needed to address health, wellbeing and human performance for the design/assessment/operation of new-build, retrofit and existing buildings, within the broader context of sustainability at the urban and global scales.

To be part of the wellbeing revolution, see further information on www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/iede.


Photo credit: Daniel Shearing/Chadwick Dryer Clarke. Dame Bradbury’s School, Tree of Knowledge Library

Building Better Buildings: A student perspective

By ucftgvi, on 22 February 2016

IMG_8289To celebrate 50 years of Environmental Design and Engineering at the Bartlett, IEDE organised a conference with a general theme of “Building Better Buildings”. The event attracted a varied audience of students, academics and practitioners from across the industry. From my perspective, as a current EngD candidate within IEDE, the event offered a valuable insight into issues that are impacting the industry. The morning session was opened by Prof Mike Davies who gave an overview of the current research within the department. This was followed by talks by members of Innovate UK and the Zero Carbon Hub (ZCH), which provided an introduction to two of the major themes for the day. The first was ongoing issues with the performance gap and the second is how these issues can be remedied using past lessons and new and novel forms of research, practice and the knowledge and data that inform them. (more…)

Celebrating 50 years of sustainability in architecture at The Bartlett — Building Better Buildings at UCL IEDE

By ucftc44, on 18 February 2016

EDE-50th-Balloons-webThe ‘Building Better Buildings: 50 years of Environmental Design and Engineering at The Bartlett’ event on the 15th February was a huge success. The IEDE Director, Prof Mike Davies, opened the event by presenting the two key themes of the Institute’s current research portfolio: building physics and systems thinking. This was followed by talks by Simon Hart, Team Leader of the Built Environment at Innovate UK, who presented the Building Performance Evaluation Programme, and Rob Pannell, Managing Director of the Zero Carbon Hub, who emphasised the need to stimulate industry investment to close the building performance gap. According to the speakers, we still do not fully understand the problem. People in the industry do care but there is a lack of proper training of the workforce. Research funding causes ‘secret knowledge’ and we need to find a way to release it into the public domain. On the other hand, building performance evidence creates a huge amount of value for the industry and the digital economy is growing faster than any other part of the economy. In line with these trends, the Digital Catapult’s Building Data Exchange platform and Zero Carbon Hub’s illustrated guides to building energy efficient homes are clearly steps in the right direction. (more…)

The Croxford Files: the MSc EDE course over the years

By ucftben, on 18 February 2016


ede_students-EDITED300dpiEDE has come a long way since I first encountered it. In 1994 Dr Alan Young was running it all, and spent much time caring for students and cursing various systems and problems that arose. Around then I started helping to supervise dissertations and giving the occasional lecture. In 1999 I took on the Health and Comfort Module, and around the same time started to co-ordinate all of the dissertations. I also was producing some early web pages for the EDE course and in 2000 we developed the Methods of Environmental Analysis module.

During these years Alan managed to organise the first trip to Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) in 2001, causing himself more worry and giving more opportunities for cursing, but also starting a fabulous tradition! Even now I am sure many of the strongest memories for EDE graduates are of various activities there…., certainly there are a good few etched in my memory!

Another new initiative I started in around 2001 was the now thriving EDEComm alumni group, which is now nearly 600 strong. (more…)

‘We all grumble about the (hot) weather but nothing is done about it’: Preparing our homes for a changing climate

By ucftc44, on 23 October 2015

19 – 25 October marks the inaugural Global Climate Change Week (#GCCW). GCCW is a new initiative designed to encourage academics in all disciplines and countries to engage with their students and communities on climate change action and solutions. UCL IEDE, UCL-Energy, UCL ISR and UCL ISH academics and students will be holding events and blogging through the week to share thoughts and ideas for the future.

green_buildingsReducing the carbon footprint of the building sector through retrofit is instrumental in achieving the UK Government’s carbon emissions reduction goals. In the wake of the Government’s decision to axe the Green Deal scheme and the zero carbon homes target, it is now more important than ever to empower people and communities to improve their homes with the aim to not only reduce heat losses and carbon emissions but also create more comfortable, healthy indoor environments. Interestingly, there has been a lot of discussion lately about the potential overheating risk of newly built or retrofitted ‘eco-home’ properties that are very airtight and highly insulated.

The uptake of air conditioning is currently low in UK homes with less than 3% of households using fixed or portable air conditioning units during the summer months. However, if we experience an increased number of hot spells in the coming years, we might see a rise in the uptake of air conditioning as people may opt for a ‘quick fix’ to the problem of indoor overheating: Predicting future penetration rates of a given technology is very challenging but some researchers have suggested that air conditioning may be installed in half of all homes in England and Wales by 2050. If waste heat from air conditioning units is discharged to the outdoor environment (the urban heat canyons), it could further increase local temperatures, thus creating a vicious circle of maladaptation to a warming climate that could increase both carbon emissions and operational costs. It is crucial to note that high levels of airtightness and insulation should not cause overheating, if they are combined with appropriate means of passive cooling, such as the provision of ventilation (preferably cross ventilation) and shading (external shutters have been found to be particularly effective and offer the additional benefit of increased security). It is absolutely essential that we retrofit homes that are well prepared for both winter and summer under the current and future climate, and combine climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. (more…)

Hot Time, Summer in the City: Who is at risk?

By ucftc44, on 21 October 2015

19 – 25 October marks the inaugural Global Climate Change Week (#GCCW). GCCW is a new initiative designed to encourage academics in all disciplines and countries to engage with their students and communities on climate change action and solutions. UCL IEDE, UCL-Energy, UCL ISR and UCL ISH academics and students will be holding events and blogging through the week to share thoughts and ideas for the future.

When asked what the recent focus of my research has been at conferences, networking events and other social occasions, I often get the same answer: “But is indoor overheating really a problem in the UK?” or, if the conversation is taking place on one of those drizzly autumn London days: “I wouldn’t mind it being a little warmer to be honest!”

Lloyds Building, LondonCold temperatures and winter fuel poverty are currently the main concern in heating-dominated countries, such as the UK, and are projected to remain a major issue by at least the middle of the century. Cold-related mortality rates in the UK currently exceed the corresponding figures of heat-related mortality by an order of magnitude. However, as our climate is changing due to anthropogenic global warming, we will experience wetter, windier winters and hotter, drier summers in the coming decades, and we will need to prepare for changing weather patterns.


Celebrating 50 Years of Environmental Design and Engineering at The Bartlett

By zcfbc25, on 12 June 2015

This brochure introduces the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (UCL IEDE) and gives a brief history of the field of EDE at The Bartlett, UCL’s global faculty of the built environment.