Research Pathways

Creating a Building Science Community

Over 40 years SBSE has raised environmental awareness and capabilities.

Bruce Haglund (University of Idaho) reflects on the creation of the Society of Building Science Educators (SBSE) and its unique ethos of sharing amongst academics and supporting students. Understanding the importance of excellence in teaching building science, this group has been critical for improving its teaching and spreading environmental knowledge worldwide.

Co-producing Humanitarian Architecture for Disaster Risk Reduction

RESEARCH PATHWAY: personal reflections on a career in research

Architect Yasmeen Lari (Heritage Foundation of Pakistan) reflects on her journey that led her from corporate architecture to working for climate disaster relief in Pakistan. She highlights some of the challenges in designing low-cost, low-carbon buildings for the most vulnerable and provides advice for architects and early career researchers on creating impact for communities at-risk. Interview and text by Rihab Khalid (University of Cambridge).

Making an Impact on Household Energy Consumption

RESEARCH PATHWAY: personal reflections on a career in research

Kirsten Gram-Hanssen (Aalborg University) reflects on the key drivers in her research career moving from engineering to work as a social scientist to understand inhabitants’ energy consumption. Situated for many years within a governmental research institute dedicated to applied research, she highlights the challenges that researchers face for influencing public policy.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Greening China’s Built Environment

RESEARCH LEGACY: personal reflections on a career in research

Kaixun Sha (Shandong Jianzhu University) reflects on a research career to 'green' the built environment in China.  Key  insights explain why sustainability in China depends upon much more than technology: the institutional environment and willingness, international knowledge exchange and cooperation, making practical trade-offs, and harnessing professionalism to ensure appropriate governance and outcomes.

50 Years a Cartoonist

50 Years a Cartoonist

RESEARCH LEGACY: personal reflections on a career in research

Louis Hellman - cartoonist, satirist and architect - reflects on a long career chronicling the architecture profession and its foibles. His research into the occupants' perspective, architectural practice and the drivers that influence the built environment resulted in a powerful, insightful critique of the built environment and a moral compass to the architectural profession.

Building as Pedagogy: Oberlin's Adam Joseph Lewis Center

RESEARCH LEGACY: personal reflections on a career in research

David Orr (Oberlin College) explains how a radical building project to 'design with nature' had profound impacts on education as well as inspiring students, designers and the wider communityThe Adam Joseph Lewis Center is a milestone building. With ingenuity and effort, it provided a positive message that we can design neighborhoods, communities, cities, and nations to enhance the biosphere. It continues to provide many lessons for designers and students.

The Application of Research: Reconciling Simplicity and Rigour

RESEARCH LEGACY: personal reflections on a career in research

Edward Yan Yung Ng (Chinese University of Hong Kong) draws 5 conceptual and strategic lessons from his research career spanning building design, urban daylighting, urban ventilation and urban climate. Sound advice is offered to early career researchers. Amongst chief insights are the understanding of both theory and critical practice in order to frame a clear aspiration for research questions to pursue. Equally important is learning how to convey knowledge in language appropriate to end users (e.g. practitioners and policy makers).

Living within Planetary Limits: Linking Research, Practice and Teaching

RESEARCH LEGACY: personal reflections on a career in research

Robert Vale and Brenda Vale reflect on their pioneering work in ecological design and a career linking architectural practice, research, writing and teaching. Their exemplary approach to the creation of low energy and autonomous buildings opened new possibilities for architecture. However, the architectural profession has been slow to change. Personal reflections are offered as insights and advice to early career researchers.

Journey to a Socio-ecological Agenda

RESEARCH LEGACY: personal reflections on a career in research

Marina Fischer-Kowalski considers the key drivers in her interdisciplinary career linking social metabolism and material flow accounting that led to the creation of economy-wide energy and material flow analysis (MEFA). Research into broad, complex issues cannot be done alone. Insights and advice are offered on intensive multidisciplinary collaboration.

Biological Analogy and an Architectural Science

RESEARCH LEGACY: personal reflections on a career in research

Philip Steadman (University College London) considers how seminal theoretical perspectives from biology, maths and architecture helped to shape a revolutionary vision of an architectural morphology over a 55 year period. Personal reflections are offered as insights and advice to early career researchers.

Why Social Theory is Important for Energy Research and the Built Environment

RESEARCH LEGACY: personal reflections on a career in research

Sociologist Elizabeth Shove (Lancaster University) reflects on key drivers that have helped to shape a part of her intellectual career for understanding energy demand in the built environment: the invigorating force of social theory, intellectual curiousity and the importance of challenging what others take for granted.

Latest Peer-Reviewed Journal Content

Journal Content

Heat stress: adaptation measures in South African informal settlements
J M Hugo

The urban expansion of Berlin, 1862–1900: Hobrecht’s Plan
F Bentlin

Common sources of occupant dissatisfaction with workspace environments in 600 office buildings
T Parkinson, S Schiavon, J Kim & G Betti

Urban growth in peri- urban, rural and urban areas: Mexico City
G M Cruz-Bello, J M Galeana-Pizaña & S González-Arellano

Overcoming the incumbency and barriers to sustainable cooling
J Lizana, N D Miranda, L Gross, A Mazzone, F Cohen, G Palafox-Alcantar, P Fahr, A Jani, R Renaldi, M Mcculloch & R Khosla

Assessing climate action progress of the City of Toronto
K R Slater, J Ventura, J B Robinson, C Fernandez, S Dutfield & L King

Meeting urban GHG reduction goals with waste diversion: multi-residential buildings
V MacLaren, E Ikiz & E Alfred

Climate action in urban mobility: personal and political transformations
G Hochachka, K G Logan, J Raymond & W Mérida

Transformational climate action at the city scale: comparative South–North perspectives
D Simon, R Bellinson & W Smit

Stretching or conforming? Financing urban climate change adaptation in Copenhagen
S Whittaker & K Jespersen

Embodied carbon emissions in buildings: explanations, interpretations, recommendations
T Lützkendorf & M Balouktsi

Pathways to improving the school stock of England towards net zero
D Godoy-Shimizu, S M Hong, I Korolija, Y Schwartz, A Mavrogianni & D Mumovic

Urban encroachment in ecologically sensitive areas: drivers, impediments and consequences
M H Andreasen, J Agergaard, R Y Kofie, L Møller-Jensen & M Oteng-Ababio

Towards sufficiency and solidarity: COP27 implications for construction and property
D Ness

Local decarbonisation opportunities and barriers: UK public procurement legislation
K Sugar, T M Mose, C Nolden, M Davis, N Eyre, A Sanchez-Graells & D Van Der Horst

Integrating climate change and urban regeneration: success stories from Seoul
J Song & B Müller

Canadian cities: climate change action and plans
Y Herbert, A Dale & C Stashok

Energy, emerging technologies and gender in homes [editorial]
Y Strengers, K Gram-Hanssen, K Dahlgren & L Aagaard

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Latest Commentaries

Dismantling Power and Bringing Reflexivity into the Eco-modern Home

Can renewable and smart energy technologies in the home avoid negative consequences for gender, power, and nature-society relations within the domestic sphere? Olufolahan Osunmuyiwa, Helene Ahlborg, Martin Hultman, Kavya Michael and Anna Åberg comment on ‘Masculine roles and practices in homes with photovoltaic systems’ (Mechlenborg & Gram-Hanssen, 2022) – published in a recent Buildings & Cities special issue ‘Energy, Emerging Tech and Gender in Homes’.

The Launch of SURGe at COP27: Breakthrough or Déjà Vu?

The overall outcomes of COP27 (held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt) have been reported by some as disappointing. However, leading city networks such as C40 and ICLEI claim that subnational governments and cities have made a significant breakthrough with the launch of the Sustainable Urban Resilience for the Next Generation initiative (SURGe). This commentary explores how much of a breakthrough this really is.