Buildings & Energy

Our buildings and energy work is focused on how we can produce affordable, comfortable, healthy and productive built environments by 2030, while also reducing energy use and carbon emissions.

Buildings and Energy is one of three energy-use sectors we research.

In order to meet UK carbon targets, our current energy use in buildings needs to reduce much faster than it has done over the past 40 years. Reducing energy demand in buildings has been the focus of energy efficiency since the 1970s, but over the last two decades, the challenge has also been to reduce carbon emissions. The future will require greater energy efficiency to help a decarbonised energy system become more resilient and flexible: buildings will need to reduce their power use during periods when energy demand is high and be adaptive to the variability of supply from more diverse energy sources.

To address these challenges, we are:

Analysing the co-benefits of energy efficiency in terms of health, comfort and energy system resilience

The evidence for the importance of reducing energy demand in buildings is compelling – the challenge is communicating this in a useful way to enable decision makers to act. Saving energy alone is not enough to drive action, but the balance can be tipped when the co-benefits of health, comfort and power production efficiencies are properly considered. Our projects in this area are dedicated to providing evidence to support decision makers to adopt effective policies.

Exploring the impact energy efficiency measures can have on the flexibility and resilience of the energy system

The benefits of energy efficiency technologies can be limited by their performance in operation, compared to their efficiency specifications. The availability of digital technologies has the potential to disrupt the traditional industry model by facilitating market and business innovation and to empower customers to engage more with service providers. We explore what these innovations are – from smart meters to smart grids – and assess the potential of these for transforming the energy market.

Assessing the current energy demand in UK buildings and how this is likely to change over time

National and local decision makers need to be provided with better data to support future development of the built environment. We look at the current building heat demand; where it is and how it changes over time. We also look at whether future energy efficiency programmes are likely to change energy use. From this, decision makers will be better supported in their efforts to reduce energy and power demands and deliver low carbon outcomes in the built environment.

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