Built environment, architecture and planning expertise

The University enjoys a long and successful history housing internationally recognised expertise with an extensive network of relevant communities (professional, policy-making and commercial) which inform and reflect leading-edge policy and practice at regional, national and international levels.

Zero-carbon retrofit housingZero-carbon retrofit housing

Research concerns zero-carbon retrofit of buildings and is linked to the University cross-disciplinary Low Carbon Research Centre.

The work is developing methods and tools through experimental research, including the monitoring and post occupancy evaluation of a zero carbon retrofit house. This strand of research is led by Professor Lubo Jankovic.

The UK’s target for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is 80 per cent by year 2050. Domestic buildings are responsible for 28 per cent of the total UK carbon emissions, out of which 73 per cent goes for space and water heating.

Much research has focused on zero- and low-carbon buildings for new build rather than low- or zero-carbon retrofit. Given that new build in the domestic sector is only 1 per cent of the total stock, and that 80 per cent of houses in 2050 will be those already in existence, Roaf’s claim that “buildings are the front line of our defence against climate change” possesses significant credibility.

Prof Lubo Jankovic, Professor of Zero-Carbon Design, has developed a structured approach for zero-carbon retrofit, which combines dynamic simulation methods and economic analysis methods to achieve economically viable zero-carbon solutions, demonstrating substantial financial returns from successful designs.

In his book entitled ‘Designing Zero-Carbon Buildings Using Dynamic Simulation Methods’, published by Routledge in 2012, he demonstrated that zero-carbon retrofit is perfectly possible and can be economically viable today. While significant progress has been achieved, this is a field in which further research is both required and encouraged.

Wellbeing and environmental perception Wellbeing and environmental perception

Research in this theme focuses on the development and design of innovative multidisciplinary research methodologies: projects focus on person-centred experiential explorations of interaction with everyday environments, considering the unique role of the arts, design and humanities to explore wellbeing. The group is led by Professor Richard Coles.

Landscape architecture and environmental perception form two key areas of research focus which embrace a number of activities that typically examine the ways we perceive the environment and the responses of the designer. Research is typified by a multidisciplinary approach working with other institutions across the university sector and partners drawn from the community, practice and other organisations.

The unique qualities of Birmingham, its particular landscape infrastructure, green spaces, canal infrastructure, heritage and diverse population, make it a unique area for research studies with our investigations embracing both natural and man-made environments.

Our specific focus draws on the cross-disciplinary experience of the research team to explore connections between individuals, communities and the environment which are profound, but not necessarily obvious to the professional or always implicit to the individual. These can be revealed by developing spoken or visual narratives made more insightful through shared understanding, developing and improving experiences of wellbeing.

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