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Sustainability Leadership for the Built Environment (IDBE)

Part-time Master's and Postgraduate Certificate courses from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

research areas 3

In the developed world, the majority of buildings that we will be using and occupying in 30 years’ time have already been built.  Retrofitting involves making changes to the systems inside of buildings or even the structure or fabric of the building in order to achieve a desired goal.  Retrofitting existing buildings can improve the performance of buildings and can improve amenities for the building’s occupants.  Currently there is significant interest in retrofitting to reduce carbon emissions as the use and operation of existing buildings account for a third of energy use and emissions in many developed nations.  In order to reach aggressive targets for emission reductions, the existing built environment must be addressed.

Expertise and IDBE interests in this area include:

  • Adaptation for future climate – Alice Moncaster
  • Commercial building retrofit – Judith Britnell
  • Domestic SmartLife retrofit project – David Arkell
  • Human issues in thermal retrofits – Ray Galvin
  • Neighbourhood and city-scale retrofit – Judith Britnell
  • The rebound effect after thermal retrofits – Ray Galvin

Selected publications:

  • Galvin R (2014). “Making the ‘rebound effect’ more useful for performance evaluation of thermal retrofits of existing homes: Defining the ‘energy savings deficit’ and the ‘energy performance gap’”. Energy and Buildings; 69: 515524.
  • Galvin R (2013). “Targeting ‘behavers’ rather than behaviours:  A subject-oriented’ approach for reducing space heating rebound effects in low energy dwellings”. Energy and Buildings; 67: 596607.
  • Moncaster A M, Cheng, V, Littlewood E and Muscat, D (2012) Climate resilience of schools: a case study, Proceedings of 1st International Conference of Urban Sustainability and Resilience, 5-6 November 2012, UCL, London, UK
  • Verve Architects and project partners (2013). St Faith’s School Masterplan: Design for Future Climate.  Report to Technology Strategy Board, January 2013

Supervised theses:  Alice Moncaster

  • Mills, N. (2013) Inherent sustainability of vernacular buildings: a case study of Devon schools, IDBE MSt thesis, Dept of Architecture, University of Cambridge
  • Smith, M. (2013) Properties of unfired clay for use in low cost housing in S America, MEng thesis, Dept of Engineering, University of Cambridge

CISL is monitoring the Covid-19 situation and responding accordingly to UK Government and University advice. At present, we expect to deliver our Graduate programmes starting in 2021 as advertised. We are well equipped to deliver dynamic and engaging workshops remotely, should the situation demand. Find out more.

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Programme overview


Becky Stanley, Senior Project Manager