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Education is key to fighting fuel poverty, says eco-expert

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 14 MARCH 2012

More public education is needed if we are to tackle the inequalities of fuel poverty, says an eco-expert from Birmingham City University.

Dr Lubo Jankovic, Reader in Sustainable Design at Birmingham City, made his comments on the eve of the publication of a Government-backed report into fuel poverty – an issue impacting on millions of Britons.

The final report of the Hills Fuel Poverty Review will be published tomorrow (Thursday 15 March).

Dr Lubo Jankovic, who has carried out his own research on Birmingham’s model zero carbon home – a converted Victorian terrace - explained that: "There are several barriers to zero carbon living, which could, with careful focusing of efforts and funding be converted into enablers.

“There are tremendous opportunities that lay ahead, which can be materialised through education, cutting edge research and thinking outside the box. We need both technological and social change to run in tandem and stimulate each other.”

In a manifesto to policy-makers, Dr Jankovic calls for:
• Careful targeting of research funding which will help fuel more innovation
• Wide ranging education will increase public awareness
• Re-thinking of the business and economic models to create a “new industrial revolution”.

Dr Jankovic's has published his ideas and latest research in a book entitled ‘Designing Zero Carbon Buildings Using Dynamic Simulation Methods’.

“The recommendations I make are small but essential steps in the direction of zero carbon living for all in the near future,” added Dr Jankovic.

An expert at Birmingham City University welcomes an action plan to safeguard the city from the effects of climate change – but warns if we don’t insulate our homes properly they could fail to protect us from predicted extreme temperatures.

Policy-makers at Birmingham City Council will be discussing the city’s Climate Change Action Change strategy report today (Wednesday 14 March). Dr Lubo Jankovic from Birmingham City University’s School of Architecture has seen this report in advance.

“The Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan is a welcome development, as it looks into consequences of climate change through risks of flooding, increased external air temperatures and heat island effect, plus deteriorating air quality,” said Dr Jankovic.

“However, little is known about thermal response of buildings influenced by climate change.”

Dr Jankovic explained that researchers at Birmingham City University have been looking into how thermal insulation and thermal mass in buildings can help thermal comfort of building-users as a consequence of climate change.

Dr Jankovic is leading this simulation-based research using UK Climate Projection data, and will publish a paper on the findings at an International Scientific Conference on Energy and Climate Change this autumn.

He explained: "There is a general misconception that more thermal insulation and more of high density material in buildings would improve thermal performance and comfort for building-users.

“Our research, however, shows that more is not necessarily always better, but that careful optimisation of building design and retrofit is needed through advanced simulation methods in order to ensure lasting thermal comfort in buildings going through the climate change.”

He added: "If we don't get this right, our homes are not going to be the places where we can shelter from increasing temperature extremes that are predicted over the next few decades.”

Dr Jankovic is a Reader in Sustainable Design at Birmingham City University and his book entitled "Designing Zero Carbon Buildings Using Dynamic Simulation Methods" has just been published by Routledge.

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