Centre for Sustainable Design of the Built Environment (SuDoBE)

Centre for Sustainable Design of the Built Environment (SuDoBE) is based in the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University. The Centre was established in 2007 with the appointment of its Director, Professor Chris Tweed.

The Centre for Sustainable Design of the Built Environment is a joint venture between the Building Research Establishment (BRE), the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff University. The BRE and WSA are both recognised as centres of excellence for research in the built environment and have both been contributing to the body of knowledge about sustainability in the built environment for many years. This Centre brings the two organisations closer together and creates a focus for continued collaboration to promote sustainable design in Wales, the UK and internationally.

The Centre is developing research in three key areas of sustainable design:

Improving the performance of existing buildings

New buildings form the central focus of most research on the sustainability of the built environment. However, most of the buildings we will be using in 60 years from now have already been built. Many of these buildings embody precious resources and can be seen as important assets for future generations. Many, however, are also wasteful in their use of energy and potentially harmful to their occupants. The prevailing emphasis on new build solutions, perhaps because they offer fewer obstacles and are arguably more exciting, diverts attention from the problems of making our existing stock more sustainable. This is a neglected area of research, which C-SuDOBE proposes to address in future research.

Human interaction with energy systems

Technical innovation and understanding are clearly essential to creating a more sustainable built environment. But they are not enough.

The Centre will address the problems of enabling and encouraging users to operate buildings in ways that will reduce their impact on the environment. This research will apply the concepts of affordances and naïve physics to develop a body of theory that can be used to inform the design of energy systems within the built environment.

Dissemination and knowledge transfer

Poor communication is often cited as a major obstacle to transferring valuable research results to those who make the best use of them. The Centre will develop projects under this heading to increase the effectiveness of research on sustainability in the built environment. The Centre is currently investigating the application of open source methods (as used in software development) to designs and construction details. This will result in a Web-based system that will allow multiple users to retrieve, adapt and apply examples of good practice that respond to different geographical, climatic, economic and cultural contexts.

Funded projects

Since 2007, the Centre has been involved in the following funded research projects:

Title Funding agency/partners Date Value
The Health Impacts of Structural Energy Performance Investments in Wales: An Evaluation of the Arbed Programme National Health Institute for Research 2013 – 2015 £750k
Re-Engineering the City 2020-2050: Urban Foresight and Transition Management EPSRC Sustainable Urban Environments 3 2010 – 2014 £2M
Use of timber in building construction LCRI Convergence funding 2010 – 2013 £525k (£290k)
Monitoring the performance of low carbon buildings and technologies in Wales LCRI Convergence funding 2010 – 2013 £415k (£180k)
Conditioning Demand: A Sociotechnical Study of Energy Users and Renewable/Efficient Technologies EPSRC & EDF – People, Energy and Buildings 2011 – 2012 ~£600k (£150k to Cardiff)
Carbon, Control and Comfort: User-centred control systems for comfort, carbon saving and energy management (CCC) EPSRC/Eon 2009 – 2012 £2M (£300k)
Solutions for Holistic Optimal Retrofit – 1980s urban semi detached house – feasibility study TSB Retrofit for the Future Phase 2 2010 – 2012 ???
Sustainable Refurbishment of Building Facades and External Walls (SUSREF) European Commission FP7 2009 – 2011 2.6M € (182k €) w/ 251k € to BRE Wales
Developing knowledge exchange mechanisms to support Welsh low-carbon housing Welsh Assembly Government, Knowledge Exchange Fund (KEF) 2007 – 2008 £50k w/ £22k to BRE Wales
PhD Students

The following PhD students have been supported by the BRE Trust in SuDoBE:

Christine Suffolk – Rebound and spillover effects: occupant behaviour after energy efficiency improvements are carried out;

Kate Knowles – Developing effective strategies for design interventions to improve sustainability in existing urban communities;

Gabriela Zapata – Situated learning in the context of low carbon design (learning from low carbon design); and

Shiyu Jiang – Understanding the Impact of Occupant Behaviour on Energy Usage in Existing Homes.

In addition, two more PhD students are working closely with BRE as industrial partner:

Timothy Forman – Maintenance and lifespan of low carbon and energy efficiency retrofits in UK domestic construction (BRE supported EPSRC CASE Award).

Mark Waghorn – Developing low carbon buildings with Welsh timber (BRE supported Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship [KESS]).

For further information about the above projects please contact Professor Chris Tweed.

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