Low-carbon building expert wins major research grant

Thursday, 18 November 2010


Low-carbon building and climate change expert, Dr Rajat Gupta, has been awarded £1.14 million from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to carry out research into low carbon communities.

Low-carbon building and climate change expert, Dr Rajat Gupta, has been awarded £1.14 million from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to carry out research into low carbon communities.

As principal investigator on the three-year EVALOC project, Dr Gupta will lead teams from Oxford Brookes and the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute (ECI) to study the effectiveness of six Government-funded communities in the UK, which include Low Carbon West Oxford.

EVALOC brings together social science and building science disciplines to assess and explain the changes in energy use brought on by community activities.

The Government gave money to six communities to encourage them to change they way they used and produced energy, and to support more sustainable ways of living. EVALOC will assess how effective those changes are.

Dr Gupta, Reader in the Department of Architecture and Co-Director of the Low Carbon Building Group of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (pictured), said: “We are delighted to win this award. Given the current drivers of big society and localism, it is essential and timely to examine the role and impact of community-led initiatives in meeting UK carbon targets. This project will also expand our research and expertise on carbon counting.”

The project will also further refine Dr Gupta’s RIBA award-winning carbon-counting DECoRuM model: “Sophisticated and tested versions of the DECoRuM model will be developed to provide real-time feedback on energy consumption and reduction both on a household and community level and investigate the consequent effect on inhabitants’ habits, behaviour and practice,” he added.

Key project partners include the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) and the Energy Saving Trust (EST). In addition, international experts from the USA, Sweden, Austria and Germany will contribute to specific aspects of the research design.

All the low-carbon communities will be evaluated in terms of their impact in changing individual and community energy behaviours, their effectiveness in achieving cuts in energy use and carbon emissions and success in bringing about sustained change.

As well as updating DECoRuM, another key outcome will be the creation of a community engagement toolkit for future community energy projects.

Oxford Brookes University is committed to sustainability and recently signed the ‘Low Carbon Oxford’ charter alongside several Oxfordshire organisations in a pledge to cut Oxford’s carbon emissions by at least 3% per year, to create a low carbon economy and create more green jobs in the city.