Shut that door: Energy and cost saving in the UKÃ¢â¬â¢s non-domestic buildings
Southampton researchers are aiming to improve energy efficiency, cut costs and reduce carbon emissions in the countryÃ¢â¬â¢s non-domestic buildings.
Southampton is one of six universities (along with Imperial College London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, and Strathclyde) which will share ÃÂ£3m funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), on behalf of the Research Councils UK Energy Programme (RCUKEP), and ÃÂ£1m from the Technology Strategy Board. The research will address how to use technology, data and information, mathematics and sociology to create better energy strategies and behaviours in public and private, non-domestic buildings.
Non-domestic buildings such as offices, supermarkets, hospitals and factories account for approximately 18 per cent of UK carbon emissions and 13 per cent of final energy consumption. Planning energy saving techniques and implementing change with the cooperation of building occupants is going to be essential.
The Southampton project, which was awarded ÃÂ£493,000 of funding, will examine how external sensors can be used to monitor how windows, blinds and lighting are used and how occupantsÃ¢â¬â¢ needs, such as privacy, comfort and security, can be balanced with energy management.
Project leader Professor Patrick James, a Senior Lecturer in Engineering and the Environment at the University of Southampton, says: Ã¢â¬ÅIn a domestic setting, a householder is directly responsible for the energy bills and would therefore not consciously leave a window open overnight in the winter. In an office environment however, there is no financial driver for people to behave in the same energy efficient manner. While there may be a strong reason to open a window in an office (stuffiness, high temperature), the driver to close the window (energy awareness) may be very weak unless there is an additional driver such as external noise, rain or a security risk.
Ã¢â¬ÅThis poses a real challenge to the facilities manager, Ã¢â¬Ëhappy productive usersÃ¢â¬â¢ prefer control of the faÃÂ§ade, which is what well designed non-domestic building environments should provide, but providing this control introduces significant energy performance risk.Ã¢â¬Â
Ã¢â¬ÅInstrumenting existing buildings with additional physical sensors to monitor this user behaviour is often prohibitively expensiveÃ¢â¬Â, continues Professor Alex Rogers, a project co-investigator based in Electronics and Computer Sciences. Ã¢â¬ÅWe hope to be able to provide useful feedback to a buildings occupants through webpages, ambient displays and smartphones, using a small number of low-cost visible and thermal cameras monitoring the exterior of the building.Ã¢â¬Â
Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRCÃ¢â¬â¢s Chief Executive and former Pro Vice-Chancellor at the University of Southampton, adds: Ã¢â¬ÅImproving energy efficiency is an important piece of the energy puzzle. Worldwide energy demand is rising, as are global temperatures and sea levels. We need to find smart solutions to how we use energy while improving the environment in which people have to work, rest or play. These projects will go a long way to help improve our understanding of what goes on in non-domestic buildings and add to the armoury at the disposal of those managing these facilities.Ã¢â¬Â