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News, Commentaries, Research Legacies, Reviews

Clothing: The First Layer of Personal Comfort

In the context of the climate and energy crises, clothing can reduce the energy demand associated with thermal comfort.

Alongside personal comfort systems (PCS) devices, clothing is another key site for (re)design in a body-centred personal comfort paradigm. Janine Morley (Lancaster University) explains how clothing and PCS could transform how thermal comfort is achieved whilst delivering energy savings and, potentially, increased satisfaction.

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Photo: (c) Johanna Frischknecht

The 80th LCA (life cycle assessment) Forum held on 9 June 2022 considered key issues in research and legislation for how carbon storage in buildings should be accounted for.

Key conclusions from this scientific meeting can be summarised as follows. CO2 is a waste product and urgently needs a proper treatment, like phosphorous emissions in the 1960s and NOX emissions in the 1980s, which were effectively being reduced with wastewater treatment plants and car catalysts, respectively. Biogenic carbon needs to be stored long-term (3000 to 8000 years which is equivalent to 100 to 300 generations) to be effective in reducing the rise of the global surface temperature. Temporary storage of biogenic carbon may be used to cap peak of temperature rise but only if fossil CO2 emissions are drastically cut to net zero (i.e. including permanent carbon dioxide removals, CDR) at the same time. Temporary storage of biogenic CO2 gives us a few decades time to develop effective CDR methods. CO2 offsets shall be based on CO2 removal and long-term storage. Technologies are currently not available and urgent efforts are needed to make them ready in large scales within the next few decades.

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Conceptualising Demand: A Distinctive Approach to Consumption and Practice

By Jenny Rinkinen, Elizabeth Shove, Greg Marsden. Routledge, 2020, ISBN 9780367465025.

Anders Rhiger Hansen reviews this book which uses examples of mobility and energy practices to conceptualize, describe, and exemplify demand as it is materially constituted, temporally unfolding and steered through policy.

Today’s Western societies are facing severe problems related to, for example, energy provision, loss of biodiversity and climate change. Each of these problems calls for new ways of understanding and steering consumption practices and behaviors, but such efforts must start with thoroughly conceptualizing demand. The urgent need to change societal demand to balance societal needs with planetary boundaries is the primary relevance of this book. However, it also provides inspiration for rethinking how demand changes and reproduces as well as how demand is shaped by material relations.

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Designing for the Climate Emergency: A Guide for Architecture Students

By Sofie Pelsmakers, Elizabeth Donovan, Aidan Hoggard, Urszula Kozminska. RIBA Publishing, 2022, ISBN 9781859469644

Koen Steemers reviews the book that establishes the climate agenda for architectural education.

There is a plethora of books written on sustainable architecture, from practical and theoretical perspectives, that appear on the reading lists of general undergraduate and specialist postgraduate degrees. Most are specialised in certain aspects (energy or carbon, materials, ecology, post-occupancy evaluation, health, etc.) and each brings value, particularly for current practice and academic reference. Apart from rare examples (e.g. Alison Kwok’s Green Studio Handbook) they do not provide a coherent and comprehensive framework targeted specifically at students of architecture or meet the pressing need for a new design approach. This is what Designing for the Climate Emergency addresses and why it is such a timely and valuable contribution.

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Buildings & Cities is now indexed in Scopus

We are pleased to announce that B&C has been accepted into Scopus.

All peer-reviewed B&C articles will be indexed in Scopus. Inclusion in Scopus will help further increase the discoverability of all B&C articles. Authors can be assured their research is reaching a wide audience around the world.

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Harnessing the Power of Spatial Data

RESEARCH PATHWAY: personal reflections on a career in research

Polly Hudson (Alan Turing Institute) explains how her curiosity about planning knowledge and local community engagement led to new ways to capture and represent 2D, 3D and 4D spatial data about building stocks and urban form. New challenges arise for creating dynamic urban models and platforms: promoting public participation and understanding, use as a planning tool, combining diverse data sources, and simulating the behaviour of building stocks over time.

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Concrete Cities: Why We Need to Build Differently

By Rob Imrie. Bristol University Press, 2021, ISBN 9781529220520

Pryor Placino (Western Sydney University and Thammasat University) and Katherine Gibson (Western Sydney University) applaud this significant book which offers a profound, urgent critique of the construction economy and a vision for a new regime.

Rob Imrie’s book puts the modern building industry’s uncaring nature under critical scrutiny. He asks: why have the construction and property industries worsened the quality of life in many urban spaces instead of making them livable? Construction projects across the globe have become expansive and disruptive. They are major contributors to air and noise pollution, voraciously consume mineral-based raw materials and fossil fuels, and selectively support the needs of able-bodied people over others. As the author emphatically points out, these unfortunate situations need not prevail.




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Reimaging Sustainable Cities: Strategies for Designing Green, Healthier, More Equitable Communities

By Stephen M Wheeler and Christina D Rosan. University of California Press, 2021, ISBN: 978052038121-6

Katherine Sugar reviews this book which highlights the need for proactive public sector leadership if we are to achieve sustainable cities.

This is an important and timely book that identifies creative public sector strategies for designing more sustainable and equitable communities, with a particular emphasis on addressing and ameliorating the impacts of climate change. In doing so, the authors reimagine current institutional, economic, political and social structures.

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Can Personal Carbon Allowances Help Cities Reach Their Climate Targets?

Could a focus on city dwellers to reduce individual emissions – personal carbon allowances – have value in meeting city Net Zero targets?

Many cities throughout the world have set carbon and / or energy targets including renewable energy production and emissions reduction goals. Despite the commitment to take action, cities do not directly control the majority of the uses of energy or consumption-related sources of carbon emissions within their boundaries. Could a focus on household energy use, personal travel and consumption of material goods help to achieve this transition at city level? Tina Fawcett (University of Oxford), Kerry Constabile (University of Oxford) and Yael Parag (Reichman University) consider whether and how cities could harness personal carbon allowances in a practical manner.

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Defensible Space on the Move: Mobilisation in English Housing Policy and Practice

By Loretta Lees and Elanor Warwick. RGS-IBG with Wiley, 2022, ISBN: 9781119500438

Rob Imrie reviews this book that charts the history and development of one of the most influential concepts in urban design: defensible space.

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The Impact of Overbuilding on People and the Planet

By David A Ness. Cambridge Scholars Press, 2019, ISBN: 1527574709.

Tina Fawcett reviews this book which challenges the continued growth of new building stock, instead calling for stewardship, adaptation, reuse and equitable sharing of our existing buildings. 

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The Unsettling Outdoors: Environmental Estrangement in Everyday Life

By Russell Hitchings. RGS-IBG with Wiley, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-119-54915-4.

Sarah Royston reviews this book about the intersection between urban lives and green spaces.

From burgeoning research on nature-deficit disorder (Louv, 2005), to the cultural phenomenon of the Lost Words project (Macfarlane and Morris, 2017), awareness is growing of environmental estrangement in modern urban lives. Despite extensive evidence on the benefits of outdoor experiences for wellbeing, and for engagement with environmental issues, we seem to be spending less time in contact with the natural world. In his fascinating new book, Russell Hitchings argues that particular patterns of living are systematically reducing city-dwellers’ engagement with green spaces. Through four case studies, exploring how people work, exercise, garden and keep clean, he shows how daily routines increasingly alienate us from outdoor experiences.


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Routledge Handbook of Resilient Thermal Comfort

By Fergus Nicol, Hom Bahadur Rijal and Sue Roaf. Routledge, 2022, ISBN 9781032155975.

Ray Cole reviews this Handbook which captures a breadth of current knowledge on resilient thermal comfort.

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Mainstreaming Personal Comfort Systems

This series of perspectives considers personal comfort systems: decentralized building thermal control, in which occupants control their local environments with personal devices while the amount of central space conditioning (HVAC) is scaled back.

Can the construction and property industries implement innovative practices and technologies to improve building performance and thermal comfort?

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Lessons from the Swiss Impulse Programme

What works: this Swiss programme shows how a long-term, consistent approach by government and other stakeholders created a successful transition for construction SMEs. It could be adapted for a low-carbon transition.

The former Swiss 'Impulse programme' was a successful response to the 1970s energy crisis. It provides important lessons for today’s climate emergency about what governments, industry and academia can do to create a successful transition within the construction industry. Niklaus Kohler and Kurt Meier (both former members of the Construction and Energy Impulse programmes) reflect on key lessons for today about its implementation and how to sustain change over the short and long term.

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Level(s): The EU Framework for Sustainable Buildings

The ‘Level(s)’ provides professionals with a framework guiding the sustainability performance assessment of buildings.

Building sector policies and legislation at EU level are being updated to help improve sustainability performance throughout the building life cycle – from design to end-of-life. This reorientation to a more circular built environment will be essential in delivering on commitments under the European Green Deal to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 and to decouple economic growth from resource use. 

The ‘Level(s)’ provides professionals with a framework guiding the sustainability performance assessment of buildings. Josefina Lindblom (Directorate-General for Environment, European Commission) explains how construction professionals, property developers, investors, business leaders and policymakers at national, regional and local level can prepare for EU legislation and embrace these changes.

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New European Bauhaus Festival: Living within Planetary Boundaries

Presentations, performances, debates and exhibitions provide a positive message about embracing change in the built environment.

The first annual festival of the New European Bauhaus – a cultural initiative of Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission) – took place in Brussels 9 – 12 June 2022. This ambitious programme and its recent festival recognises the built environment's centrality to creating climate neutrality, quality of life and social equity. Matti Kuittinen (Aalto University, coordinator of the Nordic Bauhaus programme) reflects on the festival, summarises its takeaways and applauds the mainstreaming of the New European Bauhaus.

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How R&D is Reducing the Use of Concrete

Concrete has high environmental impacts. Can the construction industry reduce the volume of concrete that is used?

After water, concrete is the most widely used substance on earth. Paul Shepherd (University of Bath) explains how deep reductions in the amount of concrete used in buildings can be achieved through advanced structural design and fabrication.

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Transition to Personal Comfort Systems

How can this low-energy approach to personal thermal comfort be implemented?

Mechanical engineer David Heinzerling, PE (principal at Taylor Engineers and chair of ASHRAE Standing Standard Project Committee 55 – SSPC-55, the committee overseeing the ASHRAE Standard 55: Thermal Environmental Conditions for Human Occupancy) looks at the barriers and opportunities for mainstreaming Personal Comfort Systems.

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2021 Reviewers

2021 Reviewers

in News

Buildings & Cities gratefully acknowledges and thanks our reviewers.

Buildings & Cities is most grateful to the many people in 2021 listed below who provided detailed, rigorous reviews of submitted manuscripts in 2021.

An enormous thank you to this diverse community of scholars who help to maintain the highest standards for both the journal and the wider community.


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Personal Comfort Systems: Using Internet of Things for Optimization

The IOT can coordinate PCS & HVAC systems to improve energy efficiency.

Joyce Kim (University of Waterloo) explains key findings and lessons arising from a Personal Comfort Systems field study using the Internet of Things. Key questions addressing the next steps for widespread adoption are posed.

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Climate Adaptation and Resilience Across Scales From Buildings to Cities

Edited by N.B. Rajkovich and S.H. Holmes. Routledge, 2022. ISBN 9780367467333

Richard Graves (University of Minnesota) reviews this book (with open access availability) providing guidance and examples for improving the climate resilience cities and buildings.

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Personal Comfort Systems: Lessons from the creation of the ‘Klimastuhl’

Part of a a new series on Personal Comfort Systems: How barriers to this promising approach can be overcome.

Sabine Hoffmann (Technical University of Kaiserslautern) explains how an office chair with heating and cooling was developed and commercialised.

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Visual Delight in Architecture: Daylight, Vision and View

by Lisa Heschong. Routledge, 2021. ISBN 9780367563233

Christopher Meek (Center for Integrated Design, University of Washington) reviews this important book which makes a strong, clear case for the provision of daylight and views in our buildings and cities.

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Embodied Carbon in Concrete: Problems of Mis-Messaging

Is trade body information accurate about the embodied carbon in concrete?

Alice Moncaster (Open University) introduces new research that examines trade body information: Embodied Carbon of Concrete in Buildings, Part 2: Are the Messages Accurate? The claims made about thermal mass, durability and carbonisation are found to be at significant variance with the scientific literature. This has important implications for the messages it sends to construction professionals, decisionmakers and policymakers.


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Mainstreaming Personal Comfort Systems (PCS)

First in a new series examining how barriers to this promising approach can be overcome.

Ed Arens and Hui Zhang (Center for the Built Environment, University of California, Berkeley) introduce a series of commentaries that explore the development and adoption of personal comfort systems: decentralized building thermal control, in which occupants control their local environments with personal devices while the amount of central space conditioning (HVAC) is scaled back. This has been shown to improve thermal satisfaction and reduce energy demand. What are the barriers to its implementation?

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Thermal Comfort and Fabric

RESEARCH PATHWAY: personal reflections on a career in research

Robyn Pender (about to retire from Historic England) reflects on a career spanning physics to building conservation, and along the way rediscovers a forgotten approach to thermal comfort: the use of wall hangings. These are effective strategies for today but also raise important questions about how we measure and think about thermal comfort.

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A Longitudinal Approach to Research

RESEARCH PATHWAY: personal reflections on a career in research

Thomas Lützkendorf (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) considers his research focus on environmental performance assessment: life cycle analysis of buildings – a significant topic in the climate emergency. Maintaining focus, depth, long-term commitment and continuity in research are vital ingredients. In addition, an accompanying responsibility is to translate scientific findings into accessible advice, guidance and practices for end-users.

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Publishing Books: Some Advice and Warnings

How might an author choose an appropriate publisher and what are some of the processes involved in creating a book?

Philip Steadman (University College London) has authored a dozen books over 50 years. Reflecting on his own experiences, he offers some advice to new authors planning to publish books about architecture and building.

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Christopher Alexander and 'Notes on the Synthesis of Form'

First published in 1964 and based on his doctoral thesis, this book puts forward a systematic method for designing products, buildings or settlements.

Philip Steadman (University College London) revisits and critiques this influential book by Christopher Alexander (1936-2022). Its method relies in part on the mathematics of set and graph theory, together with a computer technique for analysing complex systems and dividing them into their component sub-systems.

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Christopher Alexander's Pursuit of Living Structure in Cities

The Cartesian mechanistic worldview is essentially unable to create living cities. Lessons about connections can help to make cities more sustainable.

Bin Jiang (University of Gävle) reflects on Christopher Alexander’s (1936-2022) pursuit of living environments with a recurring notion of far more small substructures than large substructures.

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Mjøstårnet is an 18-storey building with a timber structure. Photo: Voll Arkitekter

Viable alternatives exist to reduce the use of concrete in construction.

Does concrete have to be used widely? Given the large amounts of GHGs generated by concrete, what alternative materials and design optimisations exist? Ronita Bardhan (University of Cambridge) and Ramit Debnath (University of Cambridge) discuss some options for how we can immediately reduce concrete consumption.

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Creating Adaptive Thermal Comfort

RESEARCH PATHWAY: personal reflections on a career in research

Rev Michael A. Humphreys (Emeritus: Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford) explains how a new approach to thermal comfort – adaptive comfort – was formulated in the 1970s and met with initial disbelief. It took perseverance and signficant investment of time outside of work to assemble and analyse sufficient data which then persuaded relevant line managers. The journey of how adaptive comfort became mainstream over the next 20+ years includes the creation of a network of like-minded researchers and their influence on national and international standards.

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New Editorial Positions at B&C

New Editorial Positions at B&C

in News

We are seeking 2 people to journal our editorial team

DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION

Buildings & Cities journal is looking for 2 new Associate Editors to join our outstanding editorial team and to support the journal’s mission. One role would specifically handle its communications through social media and the other role would oversee its “Commentaries” and “Research Pathways” initiatives. The commitment for each would be 3 hours per week. The Associate Editors will work in close cooperation with other B&C Editors.

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Flourish: Design Paradigms for Our Planetary Emergency

By Sarah Ichioka and Michael Pawlyn. Triarchy Press, 2021, ISBN: 9781913743260

Raymond J. Cole reviews this book, which stimulates urgent debate about systems level change for the built environment: embracing regenerative design and development. Design professionals can (and must) do better: they have the agency to create the transformative changes needed to address ecological and climatic crises.

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Building without concrete?

Concrete has been used as a lazy solution for every problem in the built environment. We can reduce our dependency and use of concrete.

After water, concrete is the most widely used substance on earth. The huge environmental burden of concrete is generally assumed to be necessary, and much research is being devoted to reducing the carbon costs of manufacture. Robyn Pender argues we should ask deeper questions: How much do buildings truly require concrete? And do we deploy it wisely?

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Five Rules for Tomorrow’s Cities: Design in an Age of Urban Migration, Demographic Change, and a Disappearing Middle Class

By Patrick M. Condon. Springer, 2019, ISBN: 9781610919616

Joe Ravetz reviews this book, which explores the changing nature of cities and proposes five rules for effective urban planning and design.

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The 2226 HQ Building in Lustenau, Austria. Photo: Eduard Hueber, archphoto © Baumschlager Eberle Architekten

Are standards promoting air conditioning and marginalising natural ventilation?

Current codes are making buildings more reliant on air-conditioning at the expense of natural ventilation and other cooling solutions. Adam Rysanek (University of British Columbia) explains why this should be countered. Revolutionising codes in a manner that widens the responsibility of architects and engineers to deliver IEQ is urgently needed in advance of future public health crises and the climate emergency.

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Transitioning to Zero-Carbon Buildings

What is needed to make today's buildings zero-carbon ready?

The urgency to radically reduce primary energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions during the life cycle of buildings is undisputed. The ultimate goal is a building stock which does not rely upon GHG emissions and compensates for any remaining emissions using effective and acknowledged measures (Lützkendorf & Frischknecht 2020). Thomas Lützkendorf (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) and Rolf Frischknecht (Treeze Ltd) explore the implications for making buildings now that are zero-carbon-ready.

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Expanding Boundaries & Negotiating Transitions

RESEARCH PATHWAY: personal reflections on a career in research

Raymond J. Cole (University of British Columbia) offers a candid reflection on his 50-plus-year career from earlier technically framed research on 'green' building and building environmental performance to more expansive later research that positioned buildings within larger socio-ecological systems. Lessons and insights are offered regarding the relationship between research and practice and the potential benefits gained from building bridges across disciplines.

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Latest Peer-Reviewed Journal Content

Journal Content

Implications of urban expansion: land, planning and housing in Lagos
B Oyalowo

Technological fascination and reluctance: gendered practices in the smart home
L K Aagaard & L V Madsen

Attuning smart home scripts to household and energy care
D Chambers

Modern methods of construction: reflections on the current research agenda [editorial]
S D Green

Masculine roles and practices in homes with photovoltaic systems
M Mechlenborg & K Gram-Hanssen

Brokering Gender Empowerment in Energy Access in the Global South
A Schiffer, M Greene, R Khalid, C Foulds, C A Vidal, M Chatterjee, S Dhar-Bhattacharjee, N Edomah, O Sule, D Palit & A N Yesutanbul

Housing adaptability: new research, emerging practices and challenges [editorial]
S Pelsmakers & E Warwick

Living in an Active Home: household dynamics and unintended consequences
F Shirani, K O’Sullivan, K Henwood, R Hale & N Pidgeon

Institutionalisation of urban climate adaptation: three municipal experiences in Spain
M Olazabal & V Castán Broto

Energy housekeeping: intersections of gender, domestic labour and technologies
R Martin

Speculation beyond technology: building scenarios through storytelling
R M Dowsett, M S Green & C F Harty

Professional judgement: an institutional logic approach to contractor tender pricing
D Jefferies & L Schweber

Emerging technologies’ impacts on ‘man caves’ and their energy demand
Y Strengers, K Dahlgren & L Nicholls

The gender of smart charging
S Pink

Fire performance and regulatory considerations with modern methods of construction
B J Meacham

Who cares? How care practices uphold the decentralised energy order
K Lucas-Healey, H Ransan- Cooper, H Temby & A W Russell

Alternatives to air-conditioning: policies, design, technologies, behaviours [editorial]
B Ford, D Mumovic & R Rawal

Benchmarking energy performance: indicators and models for Dutch housing associations
H S van der Bent, H J Visscher, A Meijer & N Mouter

Emissions from a net-zero building in India: life cycle assessment
M Jain & R Rawal

Lack of adaptability in Brazilian social housing: impacts on residents
S B Villa, P B Vasconcellos, K C R de Bortoli & L B de Araujo

Participation in domestic energy retrofit programmes: key spatio- temporal drivers
E Mohareb, A Gillich & D Bristow

Embodied carbon of concrete in buildings, Part 2: are the messages accurate?
A Moncaster, T Malmqvist, T Forman, F Pomponi & J Anderson

An alternative approach to delivering safe, sustainable surgical theatre environments
C A Short, A W Woods, L Drumright, R Zia & N Mingotti

Adapting owner-occupied dwellings in the UK: lessons for the future
T Hipwood

Integrating low energy cooling & ventilation strategies in Indian residences
M J Cook, Y Shukla, R Rawal, C Angelopoulos, L Caruggi-De-Faria, D Loveday, E Spentzou, & J Patel

Balconies as adaptable spaces in apartment housing
T Peters & S Masoudinejad

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Latest Commentaries

Clothing: The First Layer of Personal Comfort

Alongside personal comfort systems (PCS) devices, clothing is another key site for (re)design in a body-centred personal comfort paradigm. Janine Morley (Lancaster University) explains how clothing and PCS could transform how thermal comfort is achieved whilst delivering energy savings and, potentially, increased satisfaction.

Can Personal Carbon Allowances Help Cities Reach Their Climate Targets?

Many cities throughout the world have set carbon and / or energy targets including renewable energy production and emissions reduction goals. Despite the commitment to take action, cities do not directly control the majority of the uses of energy or consumption-related sources of carbon emissions within their boundaries. Could a focus on household energy use, personal travel and consumption of material goods help to achieve this transition at city level? Tina Fawcett (University of Oxford), Kerry Constabile (University of Oxford) and Yael Parag (Reichman University) consider whether and how cities could harness personal carbon allowances in a practical manner.