Energy and Buildings

More than 40% of the UK’s primary energy demand is related to buildings for heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting and powering electrical appliances. As most buildings are not designed for optimum energy use, there is significant potential to reduce the country’s carbon dioxide emissions. The challenge lies in encouraging the construction industry to carry out energy-conscious refurbishment as well as making energy users aware of their behaviour. This is vital if the government’s target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80% of the 1990 value by 2050 is to be achieved since the annual building stock turnover is very low in the UK (~ 1% per annum). The potential for achieving step changes through refurbishment is high as a large number of existing buildings can be expected to face routine refurbishment within the next two decades.


Residential grid connected PV systems are relatively simple to design with easy to predict annual yields. However, the headline economics of residential PV in the UK are at present unattractive. A typical small residential PV system (1 to 3 kWp) as shown in the top figure would cost in the year 2000 around £4,500 per […]


Bar chart showing user contentment before and after atrium installation in office space

Further occupant surveys conducted by the group have shown that compromising one aspect of the indoor comfort conditions can lead to a perceived compromising of all other measures of indoor comfort. A survey conducted in June 2005 inside existing offices adjacent to the PV atrium (c in Figure 1) reveiled a significantly worse perception of indoor […]


1960s building in need of refurbishment
Research update: Building Refurbishment

In industrialised countries building refurbishment is generally considered to be vital in order to achieve major carbon emission reductions in the built environment. At high latitudes the largest single consumer of energy in buildings continues to be space heating required for creating comfortable indoor conditions. For example, a typical 3 bedroom UK house has, on […]


Carbon dioxide monitoring data

The carbon dioxide concentration levels normally observed in indoor environments range from 350 to 2,500 ppm and are typically between 500 and 1,500 ppm. Current literature suggests that a building’s carbon dioxide concentration can be seen as an indicator for both volatile organic component (VOC) concentration and general indoor air quality. However, the potential to […]


PV facade leading to internal gain

The question of how to qualify and quantify good building performance is not trivial to answer. A well performing building from a carbon footprint perspective may not automatically be well performing in terms of occupant satisfaction (Figure 1). Similarly building performance may be understood quite differently by different groups of building users as ‘performance’ can […]


Office thermal camera survey image

The group’s research has highlighted that at present environmental control facilities are often not correctly applied, or more usually, incorrectly used due to their complexity or unintuitive mode of operation. It has been shown that there is often lack of interaction between users and their buildings. Façade interaction studies of an office building highlighted rather […]


Building envelope refurbishment

Within the framework of the IDCOP research project a pre-refurbishment tool for assessing buildings was developed (Figure 1). This tool which is termed B-space assesses the energy demand of multi-storey office buildings taking into account occupier comfort. B-space is targeted at asset mangers as main user group. It enables calculation of a building’s carbon footprint […]


graph of summer temperature in the South of the UK vs time

Human-made emissions be it from buildings, business, agriculture or transport are now commonly accepted to be the main cause of the global warming trend which is currently being experienced. The Sustainable Energy Research Group is conducting research on climate change issues by assessing future climate impacts in particular in terms of the future performance of […]


The University of Southampton has three permanently grid connected PV systems on its Highfield Campus designed and serviced by the Sustainable Energy Research Group. The installed capacity of these three facilities is about 20 kWp: (a) George Thomas Building – 12.2 kWp atrium (b) Building 2 – 7.2 kWp vertical façade (c) Eustice Building – […]


Grant details: IDCOP

“Innovation in Design, Construction & Operation of Buildings for People” (IDCOP) is a multi institutional research programme funded under the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Sustainable Urban Environment (SUE) programme. The aim of the IDCOP consortium is to find new ways to improve the performance of building envelopes over the whole building life cycle. The […]