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PhD researcher aiming to enhance indoor air quality for new homes


Improving indoor air quality in newly-built homes

With climate change a considerable concern across the globe, newly built houses need to adapt to rising temperatures. PhD researcher Callistus Gero is on a mission to prevent indoor overheating and improve air quality.  

Callistus Gero is used to the heat. Having grown up in Kenya, where the temperatures usually soar above 25 degrees, he’s familiar with sweltering conditions. However, it is not exactly a pleasurable experience. “I have a skin allergy that is triggered by excess heat,” he explains. “This makes me uncomfortable in hot conditions. That’s why I want to solve this problem.” 

The issue in question is overheating and poor air quality in buildings. With global warming intensifying and the demand for more houses increasing, such research has never been timelier. 

Tackling climate change 

However, Callistus’ desire to fix this issue stems from more than just personal discomfort. “As climate change brings hotter summers and frequent heatwaves, new houses need to adapt accordingly,” he states. “With the Government’s target for zero carbon buildings set for 2050, a lot of factors need to be put into consideration to ensure we don’t end up with airtight and over-insulated buildings. 

“Hopefully, at the end of this research will have devised new solutions for indoor air quality and overheating that are cost-effective, as well as being applicable to new and existing houses.” 

This research will involve monitoring indoor air quality parameters in houses across the UK as well as using Dynamic simulation modelling software. Working closely with industry will hopefully enable the research to come up with cost effective, practical and applicable solutions. 

Better construction in Kenya and beyond 

Callistus cut his teeth in his native Kenya, with an internship at the National Housing Corporation. “I developed my project management skills and gained industry experience,” he says. “Most importantly, it enlightened me on contextual issues in construction.” 

One such issue was temperaturesspecifically how expanded polystyrene can be implemented to createcooler homes at relatively cheaper prices and shorter construction timelines. This led to Callistus arriving at Birmingham City University to embark upon a Master’s and now his PhD. 

Great location, great support 

Callistus is only a few weeks into his PhD studies, but is already thrilled with the support he’s received. “I’ve interacted with both staff and students, and that gives me the confidence that I’m in the right place to study,” he says. “Not only that, but the University is located in the heart of a multicultural city.” 

In the future, Callistus hopes his research will have positive impacts in both the UK and his home country. “I believe thismy project will help many places that are experiencinged warmer temperatures, including Kenya,” he says. “The timeliness of this research cannot be overstated.”