Characterisation of the Field The design, production, management and operation of buildings involve complex socio-technical processes. Buildings represent a crucial element of energy systems at all scales from local, through national to continental. Buildings and the wider built environment are key determinants of human health and quality of life. Buildings and their supporting infrastructures shelter, protect and structure almost the whole of our individualand collective lives, and the working lives of hundreds of thousands of people are devoted to their design, production, management, operation and occupation. Interactions between people and physical systems in the built environment are complex, and take place at all of these stages. As a result, energy use in buildings is a complex field of study involving many disciplines: the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines, the professional built environment disciplines (building services engineering, architecture, construction management, surveying), the social and human sciences including economics and psychology, and a range of disciplines associated with human health. Key phenomena, such as “takeback”, give rise to multiple competing hypotheses and interpretations, which can only be resolved by interdisciplinary working. Energy efficiency is defined by the International Energy Agency (IEA) as follows: “something is more energy efficient if it delivers more services for the same energy input, or the same services for less energy input.” This apparently simple formulation conceals deep problems of definition, measurement and evaluation, commensurability, intertemporality, contingency and disciplinary perspective. Garrett Hardin s first law of human ecology “you can never do only one thing - applies throughout the study of the built environment. Thetask of improving energy efficiency in the built environment is dominated by context- and process-bound problems that arise from the deployment, as opposed to the initial development of technology. This domination is likely to increase as the UK moves towards the large-scale deployment of energy end use technologies through mechanisms such as Green Deal. The Green Deal indirectly stimulated fundamental research on U valuesby revealing the weakness of U value assumptions built on work done decades ago, with different equipment, different analysis techniques and for different purposes. This illustrates how high-value scientific problems can arise from the policy-driven deployment of interventions. The Research Councils most directly involved with energy demand in buildings are the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and theEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) model used by EPSRC to define its own role leaves little room for it to engage with the complex and multi-layered RDD&D process in the Built Environment. Hitherto this has meant that much research in this area has been funded, not by Research Councils, but by Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) and their predecessors, and by charities and agencies, such as Historic Scotland, English Heritage, and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) (who have funded much of the recent fundamental work on solid wall U values) with interests in the area. Until the mid-1990s, the directly-funded Building Research Establishment and energy industry research centres were also major providers of built environment research. Since privatisation, this work has declined or ceased, resulting in both a loss of capacity and much-diminished access to the results of research undertaken historically by these organisations. One of the factors that impedes progress in this area is the mismatch between the comprehensiveness of the system established by Research Councils UK (RCUK) Research to report research outcomes, and absence of such systems for other funding bodies. The Research Outcomes System (ROS) is a web-based system through which the holders of grants awarded by AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, NERC and NC3Rs are required to report the research outcomes resulting from those grants. Information reported to ROS is used to demonstrate the impact of research funding to Government, and is being made publicly available through Gateway to Research. The reporting of research undertaken for other organisations is generally less consistent and rigorous. This mismatch can lead to a situation in which researchers funded predominantly from RCUK resources may be unaware of work taking place with other sources of funding. Research Challenges To do justice in a few pages to the full spectrum of research in support of Energy Efficiency in Residential & Commercial Buildings is impossible. The following is written primarily from a particular perspective building physics - and will inevitably omit important areas of work. The author’s hope is that readers will interpret this review generously, and in some cases make the connections to their own experiences of researching in this area. This “Landscape Document” groups research challenges under 14 headings, ranging from Modelling to Translational Research. Modelling of energy demand of buildings is a major task involving physics, engineering, and built environment disciplines. At this point it is worth noting that the majority of delivered energy demand (but not exergy demand) in the built environment in the UK is due to heating. As a result, heat demand is a dominant theme in UK research. At its most basic, under the headings of Materials Science, and Building Technologies and Systems, there is significant research into insulants and insulation systems though a great deal of this work is undertaken by industry and much is based outside the UK. Modelling has been dominated for most of the last three decades by heat. A very significant, two-pronged effort was made in this area in the 1980s. The first was coordinated by the IEA, with significant support for UK researchers from EPSRC (then known as the SERC), and focused on the development and comparison of dynamic thermal simulation packages. The initial driverof this work was the desire to understand the performance of passive solar buildings (see Balcombe,1992 for a discussion of the early work on passive solar from a US perspective), but the approach and the software packages that were developed have found a much wider range of uses over the subsequent decades. The second effort was spear-headed by the Building Research Establishment, but with significant input from Chapman (Chapman, 1990) (basedat the Open University) and involved the development of the SAP-BREDEM family of static models of energy use, primarily for use in dwellings. Similar developments took place in other countries and an overarching framework subsequently emerged through CEN and ISO (ISO 13790). Subsequent developments included computational fluid dynamics, to model air flow in and around buildings (and indeed, planets) and, in the last decade, combined thermal and moisture models, such as WUFI (in English, transient heat and moisture transport model). These models are likely to be central to the understanding of side-effects of insulating existing buildings. Historically energy demand has been seen as technically determined. But the interaction of people with technical systems has over the last decade been recognised as crucial. This has led to a demand among research funders and policy makers for socio-technical models of energy demand in buildings, primarily as an aid to the development of policies and technical intervention strategies. Among the many problems faced by builders and funders of socio-technical models are the completely different languages used to describe technical systems and human behaviour. These differences are fundamental and will not be transcended easily. A broad level of knowledge on the part of research funders and major stakeholders of the disciplinary perspectives on energy demand and of the fundamental nature of the underlying processes will be essential to ensure that calls for research are well framed, and objectives are realistic. Related to building models are stock models of the entire residential or commercial sector energy demand of a nation or region. Stock models typically rely on bottom-up models such as the UK’s SAP and USA’s EnergyPlus to combine measured or certified sub-system performance data based on laboratory measurements with a simple conceptual model of energy flows in buildings, to predict overall energy use. These models then estimate overall energy demand based on physical properties of buildings and systems. The problem of characterising new technologies and combinations of technologies,and representing the interactions between building fabric, systems, climate and people for the purposes of modelling is a profound one. Historically, predictions have been adequately close to performance, where this has been measured. This is less and less likely to be the case in the future. The problem is apparent even with a technology as simple as the condensing boiler. Technologies such as heat pumps, and the increasing number of buildings with multiple heat supply systems (condensing boilers and solar thermal), are likely to be even more vulnerable to systemic influences on performance. The difficulty of predicting behaviour of complex systems from sub-system performance suggests that in the future more reliance will need to be placed on empirical feedback on whole system performance from the field. The study of the interactions between buildings and building systems and the rest of the energy supply system is an area of increasing importance, but one in which the growth of capacity lags. The UK has developed a significant capacity for energy supply system modelling through the Supergen Consortium and for whole system techno-economic modelling through the UK MARKAL/UK TIMES team. But use of physical modelling to understand the complex, multi-layered, dynamic interactions between systems such as heat pumps and the rest of the energy system is less developed. Some of the more interesting work has been done through consultancy. All models depend on assumptions about the basic processes at work (in the case of building physics models, these start with the laws of thermodynamics), data and understandings (which, in the context of building physics, are expressed in the form of parameterisations) of the influence of wider system contexts. Recent results, particularly of convective bypasses in domestic construction and of solid wall U values, have reminded the research community of the vulnerability of all models to the absence of good empirical data and interpretation. As the demands on models increase, so the need for high quality empirical work will also increase. The lack of emphasis over the last three decades on physical measurement of buildings has left the UK capacity for such work significantly reduced. Conversely, advances in measurement and imaging technology, coupled with the ongoingIT revolution, have made it possible to undertake work more quickly, with greater precision and at significantly lower cost than ever before. The necessity of measuring performance and detecting and diagnosing unintended consequences of unprecedentedly large-scale interventions in the building stock sufficiently quickly to assist policy makers and the supply chain, presents both a huge challenge and a huge opportunity for the UK research community. The systematic collection and analysis of data on energy use in buildings has become referred to as Building Energy Epidemiology. Energy Epidemiology is the systematic study of the distributions and patterns of energy use and their causes or influences in populations. It uses statistical association to impose top-down, constraints on bottom-up thermodynamics. It deals with the whole energy system as well as its sub-systems, focuses on outcomes such as reduced delivered energy or carbon emissions as well as intermediate performance indicators. It is interdisciplinary, facilitating and illuminating enquiry from the perspectives of economics and social science as well as thermodynamics. It will support the developments of technologies, changes in behaviour and policies and is action-oriented. Examples of the sorts of questions that the epidemiological approach can address include: what has been the empirical impact on energy demand of successive changes in Building Regulations over thelast two decades? And, what is the actual effect on energy demand of insulating existing dwellings? There are numerous constraints on the practice of energy epidemiology. The approach requires access to large datasets on energy use and related factors. Much of this data is sensitive, and access to it has managed in a way that balances legitimate concerns over privacy and commercial confidentiality against the very large potential benefit to energy companies, policymakers and the nation as a whole. Using existing administrative datasets for purposes that they were not designed to support is likely to reveal quality control problems. Initiatives such as smart metering, have the potential to generate very much larger volumes of data than are currently available. All of these issues will need to be worked through over the coming decade. We have already mentioned the importance of interdisciplinarity in this sector. Interdisciplinary working and trainingposes significant challenges for the individual researcher and research student, as well as for existing disciplines. Interdisciplinarity imposes significant additional learning requirements, requiring that researchers have at least “second-language” competence in disciplines other than their home discipline. Researchers who set out to cultivate breadth of understanding risk placing themselves at a competitive disadvantage compared with colleagues who have worked only within the confines of a single discipline. Critical disciplinary knowledge and insights risk being incompletely or incoherently transmitted to new cohorts of researchers. And yet, recent studies e.g. on deep retrofit, suggest the very high value of work that combines physical, process and social enquiry. This is an appropriate point at which discuss the diversity of models for how buildings and energy research can support economic activity in the wider economy the National Importance agenda. Models and data are not necessarily the most important end-products of such research. Among other outputs are: the movement of highly trained people into industry, and the co-creation, with industry, and embedding of knowledge in industry, about how to make new and existing buildings more efficient. Action Research represents a collaborative tradition, in the UK going back to World War II, involving academia and industry using research methods directly, to address complexproblems in context. The potentially transformative capacity of Action or Intervention Research have been demonstrated by the Stamford Brook Project, which impacted directly on regulation and construction practice in the run up to the 2006 revision of the Building Regulations for England & Wales (Part L). Despite its successes, the Stamford Brook project also revealed weaknesses, particularly around effective implementation of interdisciplinary working and capacity to undertake Action Research effectively. Works Cited Balcombe, D. J. (1992). Passive Solar Buildings. MIT. Chapman, P. F. (1990). The Milton Keynes Energy Cost Index. Energy and Buildings, 14 (2): 82 - 101.
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Table 2.1: UK Capabilities
Capability to undertake high quality research in energy efficiency in buildings exists but is dispersed across the UK, in universities (pre- and post-1995), in a number of non-academic laboratories, and in industry. As an example of some of the complexities of the sector, over the last quarter century, globally significant work on the performance of commercial buildings has been done by the Usable Buildings Trust, an organisation that has operated on the fringes of academia and industry, with funding from the Department of Environment (until 1997) and its successors, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) (1997-2001) and the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR); and with industrial sponsorship. Taking the long view, in the decades following the Second World War, the UK had a number of outstanding research centres that addressed energy use in buildings, and whose research has been world-leading. As an example of this, the development in the 1980s, of the Building Research Establishment Domestic Energy Model, BREDEM, and the Standard Assessment Procedure, SAP, for the domestic sector, and the BREEAM family of environmental performance assessment tools, remain key resources forthe research community, policymakers and industry. As noted earlier, since privatisation of the energy industries, much of this work has declined or ceased, resulting in both a loss of capacity and much-diminished access to the results of research undertaken historically by these organisations. The replacement of the lost research capacity by development of centres of excellence in academia is a process that is still under way. The historic role of BRE in support of Government andthe development of building regulations was replaced, between 2003 and 2008, by the FM Nectar Consortium working under Framework Contracts placed by DTLR, and its successor organisations, Office of the Deputy Prime Minster (ODPM) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The consortium was led by Faber Maunsell (later to become AECOM) and included at least two academic organisations, UCL and Leeds Metropolitan University. Despite its historic strengths, theUK has been quite conservative in terms of research and development of new approaches to construction and building management, and is weaker than its peers on the Continent in this area. New, low energy building paradigms (for example, the PassivHaus standard) have not typically been developed in the UK and the UK is a clear follower and not a leader in this area. Attempts to leapfrog continental advances, e.g. through the promulgation of the Zero Carbon agenda, have tended to overlook the factors such as a culture of training - that make analogous developments a success on the Continent, and to the extent that they have been led by colleagues in the construction industry, have tended to ignore impacts on the energy system as a whole. Critical problems are the relatively weak integration of the different centres of capacity, and a corresponding lack of integration between funding bodies, particularlywith respect to the recording and documentation of research. In the case of research procured by government departments, frequent reorganisation, coupled with reductions in departmental funding and capacity, have meant that much of this work is no longer easily accessible. A diversity of research finding organisations is almost certainly desirable, through its ability to promote a more diverse portfolio of research. The disadvantages, some set out above, can in principle be managed by encouraging all funding bodies to require research to be published in academic journals, and by insisting that all research outputs are lodged in repositories such as the UKERC Energy Data Centre.
Table 2.1: UK Capabilities
Table 3.1: Research Funding | Table 3.2: Key Research Providers
The task of defining what is basic and strategic research in this area turns out not to be a simple one. First and foremost, basic research is not necessarily the same as strategic research, particularly in a period when the environment that drives research objectives is characterised by deployment of rafts of technology and social, political and economic interventions, at unprecedented rates, with the aim of successfully negotiating the third great transformation in human ecology since theend of the last Ice Age (the first two were the development of agriculture, and the transition to a fossil-fuelled economy). To a building physicist and materials scientist, basic and strategic research in the domain of energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings would probably include:
Table 3.1: Research Funding
Table 3.2: Key Research Providers
Table 4.1: Research Funding | Table 4.2: Key Research Providers
UK capabilities in the application of energy efficiency research to residential and commercial buildings can be found in academia and in major private sector consultancies. The nature of energy efficiency in the built environment is that there is a large amount of applied research funding that comes both from research councils, energy companies, and government departments. Historically government buildings research was carried out the Building Research establishment (BRE), which was privatised twenty years ago to create BRE Ltd. The company has been at the centre of applied research in energy and buildings for UK government departments from diverse perspectives of engineering, policy making, and behaviour change in relation to energy efficiency in buildings. In more recent times, other private companies have also provided applied research to the government sector. The main programmes for applied research inenergy efficiency of commercial and residential buildings come from government-sponsored housing surveys that include extensive surveys of energy consumption of buildings in the domestic sector. Out of these surveys emerges another major strand of applied research of predicting the energy performance of buildings for the purposes of satisfying Part L of the building regulations. This research is coordinated by private sector research but with significant input from academia. In the non-domestic sector, there is no overall survey of the building stock or its energy use to draw upon for applied research in these buildings. Another strand of research is the production of new materials that can reduce energy demand and raise the internal temperature of a building. A final strand is the reduction of fuelpoverty in domestic households, where its members cannot afford to keep adequately warm at reasonable cost, given their income. There has been an upsurge of applied research funded by research councils, private industry, and government-sponsored organisations. This renewed focus on the applications of energy efficiency research and multidisciplinary projects that focus on socioeconomic dimensions of energy efficiency incorporating human behaviour, human-computer interaction, and economic growth.
Table 4.1: Research Funding
Table 4.2: Key Research Providers
Table 5.1: Demonstration Funding Programmes | Table 5.2: Major Demonstration Projects
In the area of energy efficiency in buildings, demonstration projects and research facilities are mutually interchangeable entities. Basic and applied research into energy efficiency in buildings can either take place in specialised demonstration buildings or take place in buildings in the community as one-off projects. Demonstration buildings were first established by the UK Government as part of their buildings research programme by what eventually became the Building Research Establishment for issues that included air permeability of materials, daylighting, and solar gain. These buildings were intended as testing grounds for new building materials for walls and windows. Later, they became testing grounds for renewable energy technology. Later demonstration projects have been established by a combination of environmental charities (Centre for Alternative Technology), “energy fayres” as part of a local authority partnership (Milton Keynes Energy Park). The latter is an example of research facilities that exist in the community instead of in a demonstration project. The Green Deal and the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) have been included as demonstration funding programmes. The Green Deal allows bill payers to make energy efficiency improvements and repay the cost through their energy bills. This scheme will also include measures to improve the energy efficiency of the private rented sector; under the Green Deal landlords will face no upfront costs when improving their properties. The ECO aims to reduce the UK’s energy consumption and support people living in fuel poverty. It is hoped that both of these schemes will contribute to increaseduptake of energy efficient devices in domestic properties. Although not strictly demonstration funding programmes, Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) and Feed In Tariffs (FIT) have been included below, as they will encourage occupants to invest in sustainable technologies in the home, and if successful, will reduce demand on the rest of the energy supply system. These schemes pay occupants a defined tariff for their renewable heat and electricity production, incentivising investmentin both solar PV and technologies such as heat pumps. The PV Feed In Tariff, directly incentivises energy efficiency in homes rated E, F or G, through preferential tariffs for higher rated dwellings. It is possible that the RHI will indirectly incentivise energy efficiency, as a way of reducing total investment costs. The national rollout of Smart Meters, which will help occupants control their energy use, should also contribute to an improved energy efficiency of the building stock. There are several past examples of research done in energy efficiency in the community led by social housing providers with the primary objective of reducing fuel poverty with energy efficiency as a useful by-product (Hull, Birmingham). There is a current imbalance of these research facilities towards socially rented or part-owned housing tenures with significantly fewer examples in private owner-occupied housing tenures. There are no research facilities, either in demonstration buildings or in the community, that specifically target the non-domestic building sector at the same scale as for the residential sector. There are commercially led research projects that take place within developers (such as British Land) andmajor engineering companies (such as Arup) to deliver innovative buildings on a one-off basis. There is some, but understandably limited knowledge transfer between industry and academia.
Table 5.1: Demonstration Funding Programmes
Table 5.2: Major Demonstration Projects
Table 6.1: Research Facilities and Assets
Research facilities and assets in the UK for energy efficiency in buildings consist of both physical and statistical models. These models predominantly describe housing, but there are also some assets relevant to the non-domestic sector. The physical models are demonstration projects that are testbeds for new materials, technologies, and living arrangements that affect the heat demand and supply of buildings and have been in existence for the last fifty years. Statistical models are more recent with the advent of computing power that enables sophisticated models to emerge instead of using reference tables. These models are built out of major datasets on buildings, their physical makeup, and their occupants. Again, most of the data and modelling are on the residential sector and not the non-domestic sector. Demonstration buildings have been part of energy efficiency research, with two major centres at Watford and East Kilbride currently operated by BRE, with several past examples, including the Milton Keynes Energy Park with supplied significant amounts of data for energy efficiency research in the 1980s. There are also technology demonstration sites and skills training facilities in the UK including the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales. Again, these are facilities servicing the residential sector. Statistical models of both the residential and non-domestic sector have been developed for both the new build for stock modelling of theresidential and commercial sectors. These databases are used to assess the impact of future retrofitting and implementation of technologies that reduce energy demand.
Table 6.1: Research Facilities and Assets
Table 7.1: Networks
Energy efficiency in buildings in the UK does not have a central research network. Instead, there are specific networks that talk to disciplines within the energy efficiency realm. There are major cross-discipline networks within UKERC and the Sustainable Development Research Network. Well-developed networks do exists that deal specifically with sustainable construction or building simulation. Researchers outside of building science are attached to various international networks suchas urban meteorology or energy efficient economy, but these connections are looser and, without critical mass in the UK, require extensive international connections for information exchange.
Table 7.1: Networks
Table 8.1: EU Framework Programmes
Up to now, Framework Programmes (FPs) have been the main financial tools through which the European Union supports research and development activities covering almost all scientific disciplines. FPs are proposed by the European Commission and adopted by Council and the European Parliament. The 7th framework (FP7) has finished (for new funding) and has been replaced by Horizon 2020, the first proposals for which are now beingsubmitted. Energy efficiency is cited specifically as a topic area. Current calls for research are oriented around energy efficient buildings and smart cities and communities. Uptake is centred in very few research centres and agencies in the UK.
Table 8.1: EU Framework Programmes
Table 9.1: International Activities
International activities, especially in buildings performance monitoring and modelling, have increased through information exchanges that have developed both inside of the International Energy Agency (via the various Implementing Agreements, which are also now known as Multilateral Technology Initiatives) and in more organic networks that have developed in the last 30 years. Even though there are significant policy and market structure barriers to international cooperation in the fieldof energy and buildings, the sharing of datasets, experiments and models have become more widespread. In addition, these networks have become a place for connections to be made between research from different national contexts to learn from one another and inspire collaborations.
Table 9.1: International Activities