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The Croxford Files: the MSc EDE course over the years

By Ben J F Croxford, 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. Read the rest of this entry »

Water, water, everywhere…

By Jonathon Taylor, on 13 January 2016

floodingWatching politicians wearing rubber boots wading through floodwaters is quickly becoming become an annual winter and spring tradition in the UK[1]. This year, a number of voices have attributed blame for the floods on cutbacks in flood defence spending, land use management, building construction in flood-vulnerable locations, and climate change. In reality, the flooding is likely to be a combination of all these factors. What we can say with confidence, though, is that we should expect the type of rainfall events that caused the floods to become more common in the future due to climate change – indeed, research indicates that climate change made this year’s floods across the UK 40% more likely[2]. As the risk of floods becomes greater, we need to learn how to be more resilient against floods, which requires increasing our understanding of their impact on population health and buildings. Read the rest of this entry »

A case of cognitive dissonance?

By Clive Shrubsole, on 15 December 2015

COP21I’m a lifelong Tottenham fan and can still remember the rollercoaster of previous years where preseason expectation often nosedived into frustration and disappointment. We were OK playing at home, but when playing away invariably folded often with heavy losses.

However, I love the current performances, the new sense of belief and energy on the pitch, the consistency wherever the venue and the joy of being with IEDE colleagues at games and watching us win and often in spectacular fashion.

 

In some ways I feel the same about COP21 when compared to previous summits; great expectations, agreement (albeit voluntary) and a renewed sense of purpose and drive with clear goals. After all, the fact is, climate change is a fact. The science behind climate change and the ongoing evidence is now overwhelming with 95% certainty in term of made-made emissions being the source. Recent floods in the UK and various events worldwide have created a sense of proximity for all that may have been lacking in previous negotiations. For the UK, our ‘away game’ was impressive with strong statements such as “action today, not excuses tomorrow” when referring to climate change. Read the rest of this entry »

Energy performance gap assessment and Post Occupancy Evaluation of UCL Cruciform Library / Main outcomes

By Vasiliki Kontopoulou, on 12 November 2015

This update includes the main results of my dissertation research regarding UCL Cruciform Library. The most important outcomes of the methodology used, including hygrothermal monitoring, occupant comfort surveys, dynamic thermal modelling and Carbon Buzz are presented.

After the monitoring period (6-20/7/2015), the results extracted from the Hobo data loggers were analysed. The most important findings are summarized below:

1

Hygrothermal monitoring plan

the average internal temperature in the majority of spaces (excluding computer clusters – average of 24 degrees Celcius) fluctuates between 21 and 22 degrees Celcius, really close to the external one (average of 18.9 degrees Celcius).

the average internal relative humidity in the majority of spaces fluctuates between 51 and 55%, falling inside the acceptable range of 40-70% according to CIBSE Guide A (2006). Read the rest of this entry »

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

By Anna Mavrogianni, 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. Read the rest of this entry »

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

By Anna Mavrogianni, 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Right Here, Right Now (with apologies to FatBoy Slim)

By Clive Shrubsole, on 20 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.

The fact is: climate change is a fact. The science behind climate change and the ongoing evidence is now so overwhelming, that it seems to me that some active climate change deniers are a bit like members of the flat earth society, holding on to an increasingly delusional view despite all the proof to the contrary.. Some continue to deny the science publically, while acknowledging it privately due to a powerful vested interests that they feel could suffer should it be acknowledged. Read the rest of this entry »

Vehicle emissions: It’s time to put emphasis back on human health

By Clive Shrubsole, on 6 October 2015

VW

Last Saturday, I purchased a new VW Polo 1.2 Tsi. My friends and colleagues at UCL may find my decision to buy a car from a company embroiled in the emissions scandal strange, given my ‘green’ lifestyle. Why did I do it? Well, we’ll come to that shortly. In the meantime….

 

Volkswagen’s former boss Martin Winterkorn resigned last week as the emission-rigging scandal hit the headlines and is now, along with others, the subject of a criminal investigation. The German car maker is bracing itself for a barrage of lawsuits in the US and elsewhere over its attempt to subvert emissions testing in its diesel cars, with some commentators estimating that over 80 federal suits have been filed so far. Shareholders are also lining up for their piece of the potential billions that could be paid out, as the perfect storm of illegal behaviour and severe financial harm combine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Street Lighting Switch off – are the Roads Just as Safe?

By Peter J Raynham, on 29 July 2015

crashThere has recently been a lot of publicity given to some research that appears to show that switching off street lighting makes no significant difference to things like the number of road traffic accidents or the rate of crime.

The study lead by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in collaboration with the Department of Security and Crime Science at UCL was commissioned due to fears that reduction in the provision of street lighting may be causing increases in crime, injuries and deaths.  The study took data from 62 self-selected local authorities in England and Wales who had made changes to their lighting. The study used the standard record of traffic collisions STATS19.  It should be noted that the data in this resource are usually recorded when police attend the crash, this means that its reports are biased towards more serious incidents particularly those where someone is killed or seriously injured.  The crime information that they used was the recorded crime from the Police.uk website. Read the rest of this entry »

Innovative solutions to the problems of airborne pollution in cities

By Clive Shrubsole, on 17 July 2015

air pollution, cityParticulate matter (PM) is an airborne pollutant, the smaller fractions of which penetrate the deep lung and can pass into the blood stream. It has a severe impacts on health along with oxides of nitrogen (NOx), as a report on London’s air pollution published this week have yet again confirmed:

‘Air pollution in London caused early deaths of 9,500 people in a single year’.

The EU are looking for technical solutions to help reduce the concentrations of pollutants in the ambient air. In this case Particulate matter (PM), which I have a specific interest in. The Horizon Prize on materials for clean air will be awarded to the most affordable, sustainable and innovative design-driven material solution that can reduce the concentration of particulate matter in urban areas.

So, anything that helps to reduce people’s exposure has to be investigated, with the caveat that ‘dealing with the pollution at source is the first priority. With that in mind the recent publication of Sustainia’s document detailing the  ‘100 most sustainable innovations of 2015‘ also deserves serious consideration. Innovations covers a number of sectors including buildings, cities, food and health. Read the rest of this entry »