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Applied Buildings and Energy Research Group

Applied Buildings and Energy Research Group (ABERG) is focused on establishing an evidence base to better understand and address the issues of energy consumption in buildings. The team covers a wide range of disciplines including building performance, electrical engineering, construction management, design and social sciences. To find out more about the type of work we are currently doing, download our prospectus here

ABERG is also the home of the unique Salford Energy House. This is a full sized two bedroom terraced house built inside an environmental chamber that can replicate almost any weather conditions. This amazing test facility is fully furnished and packed with a vast array of sensors that can monitor a  wide range of variables throughout the house and chamber.
Energy House

The ABERG team is multidisciplinary because real world problems cannot be solved from one perspective alone. ABERG members are drawn from across the university and this brings together academics with specialisms in psychology, engineering, computing and construction management.
ABERG is committed to supporting the development of effective solutions and works closely with industry and communities.  This results in a wide variety of partners including product manufacturers, installers, social housing providers, local authorities, academics and policy makers.  These partnerships are an essential aspect of understanding the problems, shaping research and embedding solutions in practice.

Core Principle and Aims of the Research Group

The core principle of the Applied Buildings and Energy Research Group is to fulfil the need for an inter-disciplinary, evidence-led research team to support the delivery of a reduction in the end use energy demand of buildings. 

This principle leads to of the following key aims:

  • Support the development of effective data collection and monitoring approaches to assess the energy performance of buildings.  
  • Collect evidence with regards to the performance of buildings in terms of their fabric and systems performance.  
  • Collect evidence with regards to the influence of human behaviours and the impact on adoption of building improvements and the influence on end use energy demand.  
  • Collect evidence with regards to the implementation of sustainable building refurbishment.  
  • Work with relevant stakeholders to develop practical solutions to improve the performance of buildings as driven by the evidence.
  • Whole Building Test Facility
  • Building Physics/Performance
  • Sensors/ Data Collection
  • Data Analysis and Visualisation
  • New Product Development/Innovation
  • Human Factors
  • Smart Meters and Connected Homes

The following projects represent some of the initiatives that the ABERG research group has been actively involved in.    

Green Deal Communities

Green Deal Communities is a joint project with Greater Manchester and DECC looking at the supply chain for the delivery of sustainable retrofit in the domestic sector. This has included activities such as supply chain training, the development of a retrofit pattern book and the provision of technical support to the development of a portfolio of monitored demonstration homes.

Saint Gobain

Saint-Gobain worked closely with Salford University, Leeds Metropolitan University and Saint-Gobain Recherche on what is believed to be the most in-depth study into whole house retrofit.  This involved a substantial retrofit of the Energy House.  For more details of this research project download the Saint-Gobain report here

BEAMA Controls Work

The BEAMA (British Electromechanical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association) Heating Controls Study project was designed to assess the impact of different heating control sets on the consumption of energy for heating a home.  The study aimed to bridge the gap between laboratory-based work and fieldwork because neither fully recreates a real-life yet controlled environment.  For more details download the BEAMA White Paper here or the full BEAMA technical report

Green Deal Go Early Monitoring

The Green Deal Go Early project is undertaken in partnership with Greater Manchester and the Department of Energy and Climate Change. This study is concerned with the fabric performance, environmental measurement, energy use and user experience of retrofitted properties in Greater Manchester as part of a wider improvement programme.

SEEDS Framework 7

SEEDS focuses on both the residential and commercial sectors. The commercial (or tertiary) sector includes a wide spectrum of building type and surrounding open spaces (shopping, education, offices, sanitary, leisure, sport, motorways, etc). The SEEDS project will be of direct applicability on the residential and commercial sectors (saving energy potential around 30%). The results of the project will be validated in the commercial sector (offices building with its parking area in Spain) and part of a university campus in Norway (University of Stavanger). Nevertheless, SEEDS developments will also be of applicability into the residential sector. Find out more details about the SEEDS project

BuildHeat (Horizon 2020)

Funded through Horizon 2020, BuildHeat aims to elaborate a set of reliable, energy efficient and affordable retrofit solutions for multifamily houses, which execution is facilitated by industrialised, modular and flexible HVAC, façade and ICT systems made available on the market. Despite the affordability, innovative solutions are more expensive compared to off the shelf ones. BuildHeat aims to leverage private and public investments by aggregating customers into energy efficient communities that are attractive to large investors, thus promoting retrofit actions at quarter level.

IAM Integrated Asset Management

The Integrated Asset Management Project is funded through Innovate UK and is carried out in partnership with the National Energy Foundation. This looks to establish how data is used to manage assets and how this can be effectively linked to managing the sustainability of stock in the social housing sector.

Haven

The Haven project is funded by Innovate under its vehicle to grid programme. A charging point has been added to the Salford Energy House to investigate how electric vehicles, renewables and storage might work in concert to allow a homeowner to link more effectively to the grid as both a producer and consumer. This project has been developed with Upside Energy, Good Energy and Honda.

The Salford Energy House is the centrepiece of the University’s cross discipline energy theme.

In order to address the energy crisis, and building on the University’s internationally recognised strengths in teaching and learning, research and innovation and engagement, the University has developed an interdisciplinary energy theme consisting of four sub themes:

  • Methods  
  • Testing  
  • People and communities  
  • Assessment and delivery  

Find out more information about the Energy House by clicking on the links below:

Academic publications

Swan, W., Fitton, R., & Brown, P.  (2015) A UK practitioner view of domestic energy performance measurement.  Proceedings of the ICE – Engineering Sustainability, 168:3:140-147 doi:10.1680/ensu.14.00056

Alston, M. E. (2015). Natures Buildings as Trees: Biologically Inspired Glass as an Energy System. Optics and Photonics Journal5(04), 136

Alston, M. E. (2014). Energy adaptive glass matter. Architectural Engineering Technology3(115).

Sherriff, G. (2014). Drivers of and barriers to urban energy in the UK: a Delphi survey. Local Environment19(5), 497–519. http://doi.org/10.1080/13549839.2013.836164

DECC. (2014). Research to Assess the Barriers and Drivers to Energy Efficiency in Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, (November). https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/research-to-assess-the-barriers-and-drivers-to-energy-efficiency-in-small-and-medium-sized-enterprises

Ji, Y., Fitton, R., Swan, W.& Webster, P (2014) Assessing overheating of the UK existing dwellings – A case study of replica Victorian end terrace house, Building and Environment.

Brown, P., Swan, W., & Chahal, S. (2014). Retrofitting social housing: reflections by tenants on adopting and living with retrofit technology. Energy Efficiency, 1-13

Fitton, R. (Contributor) (2014) Closing the Gap Between Design and As-Built Performance: End of Term Report. Zero Carbon Hub.  

Bayat, N. ARCOM Doctoral Workshop on Sustainable Urban Retrofit and Technologies, (2014), Exploring Performance Gap in Low-Carbon Housing Retrofitting in England: The Leading Architects’ Perspective, Research Gate. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/265384085_ARCO M_Doctoral_Workshop_on_Sustainable_Urban_Retrofit_and _Technologies [accessed June 20, 2014].

Guy, S., Devine-Wright, P., Brand, R., Brown, S., Chard, R., Henshaw, V., Humes, N., Karvonen, A., Lewis, A., Sherriff, G., Tweed, C., Walker, G., Wrapson, W. (2013) Building Comfort for Older Age. Designing and Managing Thermal Comfort in Low Carbon Housing for Older People. Manchester. http://www.seed.manchester.ac.uk/medialibrary/Architecture/research/marc/Conditioning_Demand_Final_English_Web.pdf

Sherriff, G., & Turcu, C. (2013). Energy: Looking to the Future. A tool for strategic planning. London. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/clues/CLUES_Tool

Fitton, R., Pandraud, G. (2013) QUB: Validation of a Rapid Energy Diagnosis Method for Buildings. International Energy Agency Annex 58 4th Expert meeting – April 8-10, 2013 – Holzkirchen, Germany

Brown, P., Swan, W. and Fitton, R. (2013) Energy efficient technologies in the UK – installing, adopting, learning and everyday lives. ECEEE Summer Study Proceedings, Hyeres, France, June 3rd – 8th, pp 2167 – 2175

Swan, W., Brown, P., Fitton, R. (2013)   Managing behavioural risks in large-scale social housing sustainable retrofit projects in the UK , ECEEE Summer Study Proceedings, Hyeres, France, June 3rd – 8th, pp 661 - 669

Swan, W, Ruddock, L., Smith, L., Fitton, R. (2013) Adoption of Sustainable Technologies in Social Housing, Structural Survey, 31, (3) pp 181-193

Todd, S. (2013) Thermal retrofit and building regulations for dwellings in the UK, in Retrofitting the Built Environment (eds W. Swan and P. Brown), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118273463.ch6

Swan, W. and Brown, P. (eds.) (2013) Retrofitting the Built Environment.  Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, UK. ISBN: 978-1-118-27350-0. http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118273508.html

W Swan, L Ruddock, L Smith (2013) Low carbon retrofit: attitudes and readiness within the social housing sector Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management 20 (5), pp522-535

Sherriff, G. (2013) From Burden to Asset – The political ecology of sustainable transport. Town and Country Planning 82(10)

Sherriff, G. (2013) Barriers to and Drivers of Urban Energy in the UK: A Delphi Survey Local Environment (volume and issue unallocated)

Chmutina, K., Sherriff, G. and Goodier, C. (2013) Success in International Decentralised Urban Energy Initiatives: a Matter of Understanding? Local Environment (volume and issue unallocated)

Ji, Y., Korolija, I. and Zhang, Y., 2018, February. Thermal responses of single zone offices on existing near-extreme summer weather data. In Building Simulation (Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 15-35). Tsinghua University Press.

Farmer, D., Gorse, C., Swan, W., Fitton, R., Brooke-Peat, M., Miles-Shenton, D. and Johnston, D., 2017. Measuring thermal performance in steady-state conditions at each stage of a full fabric retrofit to a solid wall dwelling. Energy and Buildings.

Swan, W., Fitton, R., Gorse, C., Farmer, D. and Benjaber, M., 2017. The staged retrofit of a solid wall property under controlled conditions. Energy and Buildings156, pp.250-257.

Fitton, R., Swan, W., Hughes, T. and Benjaber, M., 2017. The thermal performance of window coverings in a whole house test facility with single-glazed sash windows. Energy Efficiency, pp.1-13.

Swan, W., Swan, W., Fitton, R., Fitton, R., Smith, L., Smith, L., Abbott, C., Abbott, C., Smith, L. and Smith, L., 2017. Adoption of sustainable retrofit in UK social housing 2010-2015. International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation35(5), pp.456-469.

Pelsmakers, S., Fitton, R., Biddulph, P., Swan, W., Croxford, B., Stamp, S., Calboli, F.C.F., Shipworth, D., Lowe, R. and Elwell, C.A., 2017. Heat-flow variability of suspended timber ground floors: Implications for in-situ heat-flux measuring. Energy and Buildings138, pp.396-405.

Marshall, A., Fitton, R., Swan, W., Farmer, D., Johnston, D., Benjaber, M. and Ji, Y., 2017. Domestic building fabric performance: Closing the gap between the in situ measured and modelled performance. Energy and Buildings.

Abdulkareem, M., Al-Maiyah, S. and Cook, M., 2017. Remodelling façade design for improving daylighting and the thermal environment in Abuja's low-income housing. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.

Swan, W., Bayat, N. and Sherriff, G.A., 2017. Performance gap in ‘deep’retrofit of housing: issues at the design and construction interface. Retrofitting Cities for Tomorrow's World, p.53.

Alston, M.E., 2017. Optimal Microchannel Planar Reactor as a Switchable Infrared Absorber. MRS Advances2(14), pp.783-789.

Fitton, R., Swan, W., Hughes, T., Benjaber, M. and Todd, S., 2016. Assessing the performance of domestic heating controls in a whole house test facility. Building Services Engineering Research and Technology37(5), pp.539-554.

You can watch a list of videos about the Salford Energy House or related to our work in the Applied Buildings and Energy Research Group.

Research team

The research team support the day-to-day operations of ABERG and are the link people for the three core subject areas of monitoring and performance, people and delivery.

Will Swan is a Professor of Building Energy Performance and leads the research group. Will has a portfolio of projects including projects with DECC, the EPSRC, EU and a wide portfolio of commercial research. He was the co-Chair of Retrofit 2012 and is the co-Editor of the book from Blackwell-Wiley, Retrofitting the Built Environment, as well as author and co-author of a number of journal and conference papers. He sits on the Greater Manchester Buildings Group, is a CoRE Fellow and a Fellow of the Institute of Sustainability. Previously, he worked as part of the Centre for Construction Innovation where he advised construction clients and their supply chains on issues related to performance management and sustainable construction.

Mark Alston is the Non-Domestic Energy Lead in material energy. Mark’s research focuses upon harnessing solar irradiance upon building facades to adsorb, transfer and redirect solar energy gains through technological understanding and knowledge and to integrate advancements of material science, nanotechnology, physics and chemistry to control conductivity of material matter for energy generation.

Other aspects of Mark’s research includes enabling Resistance Temperature Detector (RTD) advancement to thermally control and regulate core material temperature in an active manner by using sensors and actuators, and to use the approaches of nature’s adaptive functions, of biologically inspired intelligent materials to enable progression of real-time, reactive materials that form the surfaces of buildings. To progress the material envelope from being a mere material entity, to becoming a dynamic energy system to regulate its own thermal conductivity levels, by the hour, season and weather conditions.

Moaad Benjaber is a researcher and Electronic Engineer in the School of the Built Environment. He manages the practical and technical aspects of experiments carried out within the Energy House facility. His research is focused on monitoring the performance of buildings using wired and wireless sensors, and conducting fieldwork studies.

Phil Brown is Director and Senior Research Fellow at the Salford Housing & Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU) at the University of Salford, UK. He is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society with particular interests in public policy and community and environmental psychology. Philip has led and contributed significantly to a wide number of multi-disciplinary projects including current work that looks at energy reduction, behaviour change and retrofitting. Philip has published numerous reports and produced a range of peer-review papers in the field of social policy and the built environment. He is the lead academic on end-use energy demand within the University of Salford’s Energy Hub. Philip sits on Greater Manchester’s Low Carbon Economic Area group for Customer Engagement and has been part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) Peer Review College since its inception in 2010.

Danielle is a postgraduate researcher in the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit (SHUSU). Currently completing a Masters by Research, she is undertaking a project that aims to explore the experiences of living in or at risk of fuel poverty amongst a young adult population. Interests include behavioural and environmental psychology, energy vulnerability, and housing and social inequalities. Danielle has been awarded a Pathways to Excellence studentship from the University of Salford, starting her PhD in October 2015. Centred on developing effective communication and engagement strategies with fuel poor households, her doctoral research will examine the role of intermediaries, such as third-sector organisations. Danielle has substantial experience of working in an advisory capacity as an employee at Salford Citizens Advice; a role that involves identifying and evidencing current social policy issues, as well as working in partnership with local organisations to establish effective support networks.

Richard Fitton is a Lecturer in Energy Efficiency in the School of the Built Environment. He leads the monitoring work undertaken within ABERG and is involved in a number of projects with regards to co-heating, U Value measurement, as well as product and retrofit package testing within the Energy House. Richard has previously been a Building Surveyor and Energy Manager in the public sector. He also advises on the qualification of SAP Assessors and Green Deal Advisors. Richard was a contributor on the Zero Carbon Hub Testing Work Group for the Closing the Gap Between Design and As-Built Performance project.  The end of term report is available here

Yingchun Ji is a Lecturer in building physics and performance simulation in the School of the Built Environment. He has been carrying out a number of projects in airflow modelling, low energy ventilation design and evaluation, and dynamic thermal modelling of buildings. Yingchun has also been working on a number of consultancy projects on naturally ventilated buildings to investigate their thermal performance and ventilation effectiveness using numerical methods such as Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Dynamic Thermal Modelling. He is now doing research looking at building retrofit and adaptation issues.

Alex is a buildings and energy modeller with ABERG. His background is in Physics, where he has a specific interest in the modelling of domestic energy storage. Alex’s PhD investigated the role of battery and hydrogen storage materials for the decentralisation of energy systems in the UK.  While continuing to provide analytical modelling for the Energy House, Alex has advised on several consultancy and academic projects, including for thermal comfort analysis, computational fluid dynamic modelling, field surveying and monitoring, and the development of a micro-climate sensing unit. Alex has most recently joined the International Energy Agency’s Annex 71 and is a member of the DYNASTEE steering group.

Ben Roberts is a researcher working on the Green Deal Go Early project, an extensive monitoring program covering many domestic properties across Greater Manchester. The project uses a suite of tests, interviews and long term monitoring to determine the effectiveness of retrofit measures funded through the Green Deal.

Ben is an expert in sustainability with a focus on energy use in buildings and renewable energy generation. His background includes a first degree in ‘Environmental Science’ and a postgraduate diploma in ‘Renewable Energy and the Built Environment’, studied at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Mid-Wales. He previously worked as a sustainability consultant, covering areas such as environmental legislation, renewable generation incentives, carbon footprinting and renewable energy technologies. In this position he also administered a £4 million grant scheme for community-scale renewable energy projects on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Dr Graeme Sherriff is a Research Fellow in the Sustainable Housing and Urban Studies Unit in the University of Salford, working primarily on projects in its Sustainable Living work stream. He was previously a Research Associate at the University of Manchester working in the fields of planning, architecture and sustainability.

His research focuses on the intersection of environmental sustainability and social justice with a view to informing policy and critically engaging with debates on how environmental measures can reduce inequality and enhance social inclusion. He has published in the fields of energy, transport, food and environmental justice and played prominent roles on projects funded by the ESRC, EPSRC, DECC, Tesco and General Electric. He has worked extensively with the voluntary and community sector.

  • Whole building testing methods in controlled and field testing

  • Energy and environmental data use and visualisation for decision making

  • Fuel poverty and impact of housing quality on individuals and communities

  • Development of new and embedded sensors for building performance

  • New product development in the sustainable buildings market

Partnerships and networks are a central part of ABERGs mission to ensure that the work done by the team makes a genuine impact in the wider world. We are part of a wide number of groups concerned with wider building energy performance and efficiency, as well as parts of groups who we support through  our  provision of technical knowledge.

Member of International Energy Agency Annexe 58  

The goal of the group is to develop the necessary knowledge, tools and networks to achieve reliable in situ dynamic testing and data analysis methods that can be used to characterize the actual energy performance of building components and whole buildings

Website

Greater Manchester Partnership

ABERG have had a long-standing relationship with the Greater Manchester City Region, comprising of 10 local authorities. They have provided technical support for a range of projects, provided advisory support through board membership of the ECO/ Green Deal Framework, participate in the Low Carbon Hub  Buildings  Group, as well as undertaking a wide number of joint projects and reports, such as the Domestic Retrofit Strategy, the G to A Report and the Missing Quarter.

Website

Trustee of the Independent Airtightness Testing Scheme

The Independent Airtightness Testing Scheme (iATS) is a scheme created for companies (including sole traders and partnerships) that carry out air tightness testing activities and to provide reassurance to clients that the work is carried out to a high degree of quality and integrity. The Scheme is governed  by  a Board of Trustees who will oversee the work of a Scheme Manager (SM), and provide strategic direction to the Scheme.
Website

Member of British Standards Institute Committee B/540/09 Reflective insulation and in-situ testing

This group is working on new standardisation for the in situ testing of reflective foil insulation products.

Member of CEN TC89 WG13 In Situ Thermal Performance as a UK representative

This group aims to elaborate a procedure, or procedures, to derive in-situ test data that will complement the declared or design thermal performance value of construction products, building elements and structures established by conventional steady state methods, e.g. in accordance with EN 10456 and  EN  6946.

Member of the SAP Scientific Integrity Group

The purpose of this group is to maintain and protect the integrity, coherence and impartiality of the SAP model.

The Group’s main terms of reference are:

  • to safeguard the scientific integrity of the SAP model    
  • to ensure the SAP methodology is consistent and robust, within the limits of accuracy needed for the purpose of SAP    
  • to avoid uneven development (i.e. excessively detailed treatment in some areas while others remain relatively crude)    
  • to balance complexity against practicalities (the practicalities being cost of development and future maintenance, time and effort needed for a SAP assessment, training and skills level of assessors)    
  • to ensure specific commercial and political considerations do not influence decisions.    

Website

International Energy Agency Annexe 70

Annex 70 is an international collaboration of researchers, industry and government from across the globe who are working to develop methods for improving the empirical evidence on energy demand in the building stock. Annex 70 will focus on identifying, reviewing, evaluating  and producing leading edge methods for studying and modelling the building stock including: data collection techniques on energy use, building features and occupant features, and building morphology; analysis of smart meter energy data, building systems, and user behaviour; and modelling energy  demand among sub-national and national building stocks.

Website

International Energy Agency Annexe 71

The main goal of IEA EBC Annex 71 is to (further) develop methods that can be used to characterize and asses the actual energy performance of buildings based on on-site measured data.

Professor William Swan
Maxwell Building Room 422

T: +44 (0)161 295 2585
M: +44 (0)7876 580189
E: w.c.swan@salford.ac.uk

Dr Richard Fitton
Cockroft Building Room G16A

T: +44 (0)161 295 6804
E: r.fitton@salford.ac.uk