Complex Built Environment Systems (CBES) Platform Grant Renewal Bid: The Unintended Consequences of Decarbonising the Built Environment

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources

Abstract

The CBES group at the UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies received its Platform Award in 2006 and the funding has facilitated a period of sustained success. Platform funding has been of critical value in helping us to retain key staff, to innovate and in providing the flexibility to be adventurous. We have also been able to enhance our knowledge exchange/transfer work and international collaboration. This has been reflected in the quality, growth and range of our activities. The Platform funding thus enabled us to establish a multi-disciplinary, world-leading research group which has dramatically increased in size, resulted in world leading academic publications, seeded a new Institute (Energy), developed new methods of interdisciplinary and systems working and won international prizes. CBES was submitted to and awarded the highest percentage (35%) of world leading rated researchers of any UK university in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) - Architecture and the Built Environment Panel. Building on the work directly supported or indirectly facilitated by the current Platform Grant, and also responding to new opportunities, the strategic direction of this continuation proposal represents a step change for CBES. During the period of the current Platform Grant, CBES was primarily interested in developing multi-disciplinary solutions to the practical problems of designing, constructing and managing environments within and around buildings. In the next quinquennium we will strengthen our world-leading position. We propose a strategic programme of activity in a timely new research direction - the unintended consequences of decarbonising the built environment . We aim to transform understanding of this urgent issue that will have enormous impact internationally.In order to predict the possible future states of such a complex socio-technical system, conventional scientific approaches that may have been appropriate for systems capable of being analysed into simple components are no longer applicable. Instead, we need to bring radically new approaches and ways of thinking to bear. We need to develop and extend our multi- and inter- disciplinary ways of working and be informed by modern complexity science. The initial Platform grant has helped set up a group that includes building scientists, heritage scientists, economists, systems modellers and social scientists. The renewal will enable the group to focus on this urgent problem, to develop appropriate research methods and help develop real-world solutions within the required timescale. The number of Investigators has increased from 11 at the start of the existing Platform Grant to 13 in the renewal - a vital expansion to enable the inclusion of a wider range of disciplines. Nevertheless, facilitated by Platform funding, we will now need to form a whole new set of additional alliances to support the development of our proposed work.One of the key achievements of the current Platform Grant has been the spinning off of the newly formed UCL Energy Institute (EI). CBES is thus ideally placed to benefit from the extensive and diverse range of energy demand reduction work at the EI. However, the EI is not funded to study unintended consequences and this Platform renewal will thus perfectly complement EI activity. Via Platform funding and in partnership with the EI, CBES aims to develop a new concentration of world-leading research excellence in this field. We will establish a regional hub for research collaboration with local universities which will ensure that benefits from Platform funding are felt more widely than UCL alone.

Planned Impact

- UK policy makers and regulatory agencies will be informed by the outputs of the proposed research, especially Communities and Local Government (CLG), Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the UK Department of Health (DH) and the Health protection Agency (HPA). See, for example, statements of support from CLG Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Jeremy Watson and DCMS Chief Scientist and Chief Analyst Dr Anita Charlesworth. - International policy makers, for example the World Health Organization (WHO), will also benefit, as will other organizations interested in air quality and health, and in the health effects of adaptation and mitigation of climate change, such as the Wellcome Trust. CBES has acted as an expert adviser to WHO and received funding from both WHO and CBES during the last Platform Grant and we envisage working even more closely with them during the renewal. - In the commercial private sector, the Met Office, for example, will benefit from the evidence into the health impacts associated with air quality and climate change policies. CBES has worked with the Met Office during the EPSRC funded LUCID project and looks forward to developing these relationships during the renewal. - UK industry - see statements of support from companies such as Max Fordham LLP, WSP, Ann Thorne Architects and several lighting companies. For example, Max Fordham LLP note that some of the possible unintended consequences of de-carbonising the built environment that are of particular interest to them include: i) de-centralised power generation and its effect on the urban heat island and air quality. ii) the effect on electrical grid of changes in load patterns (load shedding, mass move to electric transport in cities etc). iii) adaptation or otherwise of people to higher temperatures and effect on building energy use. iv) adaptation of building density to reduce energy use and how this might affect the ability of buildings to cope with higher temperatures (balance between overshadowing and exposure to wind for ventilation etc.). - Local authorities. For example, the Greater London Authority (GLA) statement of support notes: I believe that the CBES has the potential to help the Greater London Authority develop better evidenced-based policies and programmes. The research capabilities of CBES will help us optimise the best mix of adaptation and mitigation measures, assist in targeting limited funding to where it will have most effect and identify and avoid the unintended consequences of decarbonising London . - Housing Trusts. For example, see statement of support from the Metropolitan Housing Partnership (MHP). The letter notes that the MHP expects that continued involvement with us will ....produce many more research findings and lead to the design and construction of better buildings by MHP and the development industry generally. The holistic approach you are suggesting for your new funding bid is very much supported by MHP.. . - Heritage organisations. See the relevant statements of support - for example, the Library of Congress notes: From the perspective of collection stewards everywhere, it is of key importance to understand what the unintended consequences of decarbonisation might be, and how we will face the new challenge.....it is vital that the long-term conservation issue are taken into consideration . - The UK population will directly benefit from increased understanding of the (positive and negative) impacts associated with decarbonising the built environment. Our dissemination methods are described in the Pathways to Impact plan.

Publications


10 25 50
Benjamin Jones (Author) (2013) The Effect of Party Wall Permeability on Estimations of Infiltration from Air Leakage in International Journal of Ventilation
 
Description The first Platform Grant consolidated a truly interdisciplinary, world-leading research group which focussed on the complexity of the context of our research activities and seeded a new Institute (UCL Energy). This second Platform Grant underpinned the development of a strategic programme of fundamental research aimed at understanding the unintended consequences of decarbonising the built environment, enabled CBES to become a world leader in this area and seeded three new UCL Institutes (Environmental Design & Engineering, Sustainable Heritage and Sustainable Resources). In addition, and as a direct consequence of this work the UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings (UKCMB) has been established. UKCMB is an independent, not for profit, public good organisation run by UCL with partners from academia, government, industry and the public to substantially improve the way moisture risk is understood and managed in the UK.


In our award winning paper - '100 Unintended consequences of policies to improve the energy efficiency of the UK housing stock'. Doi: 10.1177/1420326X14524586 - we found that current policies with a singular focus on reducing carbon emissions from dwellings have a very large number of wide ranging additional impacts on health, society and the environment. Housing design, availability and cost all are linked to human health and wellbeing outcomes. Although reducing carbon emissions is one major focus of policy about housing, separate policies aim to reduce fuel poverty and stimulate housing construction and use property turnover as a driver for economic growth. A more comprehensive consideration of outcomes would integrate a wider range of relationships between changes in dwelling characteristics and physical, social, economic and environmental wellbeing. These may include effects on household crowding and spread of infectious diseases; employment patterns; indoor noise and air pollution; social connection and sense of security; and housing markets and affordability. It is therefore crucial to consider decarbonisation as just one objective in a wider system of housing, energy and well-being.

We have produced policy simulations using System Dynamics Modelling (SDM) to simulate the effects of different policies on the various assessment criteria. We are also using a policy assessment process (Multiple-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) to better understand housing, energy and wellbeing and balance shared objectives for decision-making.
Exploitation Route The large body of stakeholder representatives from various Government departments, Industry, NGO's and Academia took part in a number of interactive workshops enabling them to incorporate a 'systems perspective' in their work, giving them new tools and a greater insight into effective problem solving.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
URL http://www.indigo-sandbox.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/iede/research/project-directory/projects/cbes-platform-grant
 
Description Examples include: 1. The development, in partnership with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) of a comprehensive tool (HiDEEM), enabling DECC to monetise the health impact of household energy efficiency improvements for the English Housing stock. 2. Work with DECC (BEIS) to investigate alternatives to the 'Green Deal' Energy savings for domestic properties. 3. The establishment of the UK Centre for Moisture in Buildings (UKCMB) to improve public and industry understanding of moisture risks and how to deal with them. 4. The production of MSc on Health, Wellbeing and Sustainable Buildings, in part as a response to a systems thinking approach to the issues of buildings and the multiple dimensions of human wellbeing.
Sector Construction,Energy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Economic
 
Description Production of the HiDEEM Tool for BEIS (formally the Department for Energy and Climate Change)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/energy-models/models/hideem
 
Description AHRC
Amount £198,811 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 12/2014 
End 06/2016
 
Description AHRC
Amount £198,811 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/M008622/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2014 
End 03/2016
 
Description AHRC
Amount £194,740 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
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Description British Council
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Organisation Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) 
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Description Cisco
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Description Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
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Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
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Description Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
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Sector Academic/University
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Description Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
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Sector Academic/University
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Description Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
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Description European Commission
Amount £272,735 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission (EC) 
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Country European Union (EU)
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Description European Commission
Amount £370,425 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission (EC) 
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Organisation European Commission (EC) 
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Description Framework 7 Programme
Amount £247,920 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission (EC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
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Description H2020
Amount £36,624 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission (EC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
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Description H2020
Amount £296,479 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission (EC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
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Description H2020
Amount £74,288 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission (EC) 
Sector Public
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Description H2020
Amount £94,575 (GBP)
Organisation European Commission (EC) 
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Description H2020
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Organisation European Commission (EC) 
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Description H2FC White Paper on Energy Systems
Amount £77,178 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 04/2016 
End 03/2017
 
Description Hawkins Brown
Amount £40,000 (GBP)
Organisation Hawkins Brown Architects LLP 
Sector Private
Country Unknown
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Description INFRADEV Strlic H2020
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Organisation European Commission (EC) 
Department Horizon 2020
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Description INNNOPATHS
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Organisation European Commission (EC) 
Department Horizon 2020
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Description LCNF
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Organisation Ofgem Office of Gas and Electricity Markets 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2014 
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Description NERC
Amount £352,856 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/M019799/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 06/2015 
End 06/2020
 
Description NERC
Amount £19,321 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 12/2014 
End 04/2016
 
Description NIHR
Amount £237,392 (GBP)
Organisation National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) 
Department NIHR/BRC
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 04/2014 
End 03/2019
 
Description REEEP
Amount £22,500 (GBP)
Organisation Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Austria, Republic of
Start 04/2013 
End 03/2014
 
Description Rio Tinto
Amount £59,350 (GBP)
Organisation Rio Tinto Group 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 04/2013 
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Description Royal Academy of Engineering
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal Academy of Engineering 
Sector Learned Society
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2011 
End 09/2015
 
Description SHUE project extension
Amount £38,161 (GBP)
Organisation The Wellcome Trust Ltd 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 05/2017 
End 04/2018
 
Description SKANSKA RASHLEIGH WEATHERFOIL LIMITED
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Organisation Skanska UK Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 09/2011 
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Description Sustainable Gas Futures
Amount £225,055 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 04/2016 
End 03/2019
 
Description UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME
Amount £35,143 (GBP)
Organisation United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Kenya, Republic of
Start 04/2014 
End 12/2014
 
Description UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME
Amount £11,484 (GBP)
Organisation United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Kenya, Republic of
Start 04/2014 
End 12/2014
 
Description Variations in CO exposure risk in the English Housing Stock
Amount £51,175 (GBP)
Organisation Gas Safety Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country Unknown
Start 09/2016 
End 08/2017
 
Description Wellcome Trust
Amount £72,994 (GBP)
Organisation The Wellcome Trust Ltd 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2015 
End 03/2018
 
Description Wellcome Trust
Amount £75,734 (GBP)
Organisation The Wellcome Trust Ltd 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 11/2015 
End 09/2017
 
Title The Health Impact of Domestic Energy Efficiency Measures (HIDEEM) model 
Description The model provides: 1.Estimates of indoor environmental exposures experienced in the GB housing stock. 2.Changes in exposures following the application of energy efficiency measures and any resulting change in health. The aim of the Health Impact of Domestic Energy Efficiency Measures (HIDEEM) model is to quantify the indoor environmental conditions and monetise the health impact associated with energy efficiency changes in houses in Great Britain of the type and scale detailed in DECC's (now BEIS) broad-ranging programme of interventions. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact Since its initial release in 2012, HIDEEM has been used by DECC's Fuel Poverty team to generate health monetization estimates - for example, as inputs to its 2012 Energy Efficiency Strategy and 2013 Fuel Poverty Framework. It is currently supporting the 2016 ECO Impact Assessment. It was also used for the The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Excess Winter Death Guidance. 
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/energy-models/models/hideem
 
Description Participatory Workshops. There has been continual involvement with stakeholders through interviews, the development of causal maps and in addition workshops held to help direct the project and to engage policy makers from a variety of backgrounds in a participatory, dynamic process. Stakeholders include representatives involved in policy influence from Central Government and local government, NGOs, industry, academics and community members 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact An description of the fourth workshop is shown here as an example:

The 4th full-day stakeholder workshop of the HEW project took place on 30 June 2016 with the participation of various stakeholders from government departments, industry, non-government organisations (NGOs), community groups and academia. We were happy to see many first-time participants in addition to the stakeholders who were actively engaged in the previous activities of the project.

In this workshop, we introduced a new interactive simulation environment named HEW-WISE. The purpose of this simulation environment is to enhance systems thinking by integrating multiple factors that relate to energy efficiency, housing, community aspects and wellbeing of residents, instead of thinking in silos. You can access this completely web-based simulation environment and learn more about it via the link below.

> Access the web-enabled interactive simulation environment

This simulation environment is based on a simulation model we developed with the inputs collected from stakeholders in the previous stages of the project, such as the interviews conducted between February and October 2015 and three group model building workshops held in March-April 2016. The model behind the simulation environment is a simplified version of this larger simulation model, and it captures the main relationships and feedback loops between housing performance, wellbeing of residents and community.

During the workshop participants had chance to use the interactive simulation environment twice, where they were asked to allocate a certain budget to energy efficiency, monitoring or communal spaces. This task is explained in more detail in the instructions for the simulation environment. In the first interactive session, the simulation environment was presented as a black box, i.e. without any information about the underlying model structure. This session enabled participants to become familiar with the simulation environment and raised motivation to enquire about the underlying model structure.

The second interactive simulation session of the workshop followed an explanatory unfolding of the underlying model structure. In this session, each group of participants was again asked to reach a consensus on investments in energy efficiency, monitoring and communal spaces, but this time based on the knowledge of the mechanisms that connect housing performance, wellbeing and community. Furthermore, participants were encouraged to challenge the model assumptions and observe the effect of these assumptions on the model output.

During the workshop, we also presented the larger simulation model from which we derived the interactive simulation environment. This larger model captures more detail about the performance gaps in the industry and retrofitting of older houses for higher energy efficiency and it includes feedback from community connection to energy and performance improvements. We presented a scenario analysis based on this model to convey further insights about the investments in energy efficiency and the positive leverage generated from investments into monitoring and communal spaces.

We dedicated the last session of the workshop to discuss the potential points of departure for future research, such as a socio-economic viewpoint of the housing crisis in London, the role of uncertainty in decision making in the housing, energy and wellbeing domain, and organisational decision-making in housing. The participatory research has led to an acknowledgment of the long-term effects of policies, and hopefully the recognition of effective policies that meet a variety of goals about housing and overall wellbeing. We received useful recommendations from the participants about how to shape our future work, as well as positive comments regarding the project's impact on their way of thinking. Some of these comments are anonymously presented below.

"I have gained a much better understanding of the complexity and interacting nature of HEW interventions."

"I am really supportive of the systems approach and have been inspired by how you have used it to bring stakeholders together to do this."

"Powerful tool to influence policy colleagues."

"The simulation environment is a perfect communication tool."

Fruitful discussions continued over drinks and nibbles.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2012,2014,2015,2016
URL https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/environmental-design/research/hew-integrated-decision-making-about-ho...