School of the Built Environment

  • Developing a Tool Kit for Knowledge Integration: Envisioning Buildings as Energy service.

    Managed by Oxford Brookes University in collaboration with Southampton University, Active Building Centre, Smartklub – Empowering Communities Ltd, and Energy System Catapult.


    About the project

    Principal Investigator: Dr Maurizio Sibilla, Oxford Brookes University


    This project aims at developing a Tool Kit for knowledge integration to envisage buildings as components of future Distributed Renewable and Interactive Energy Systems (DRIs). The project is designed with the understanding that this is a high risk and high gain revolutionising plan for reconfiguring energy infrastructure by delivering a new generation of buildings. Our proposal deals with the ambitious objective of exploring and analysing DRIs’ emergent properties at local level, developing, testing and implementing the Tool Kit proposed.

    The specific objective concerns the use of the Tool Kit in the organisation of a Technology Support Net (TSN) for Buildings-as-a-Service. TSN is composed of a multitude of actors, who often have different perspectives and scopes, but they are called to work collaboratively in order to establish work rules, requisite skills, work contents, standards and measures, culture and organisational patterns with regard to the emergent systems.

    Buildings-as-a-Service is a completely new topic and thus, an appropriate TSN is needed urgently. This Tool Kit (ie Buildings-as-Energy-Services - BasES) will be a ground-breaking cognitive apparatus for involving stakeholders in knowledge transfer and integration processes. Thus, a new generation of Product-Service Systems will be promoted. The BasES is expected to configure a multi-stakeholder co-designed UK Roadmap on Socio-Technical Innovation in DRIs Transition.


    Dr Massimiliano Manfren (MM)

    University of Southampton (US)

    MM received his PhD in 2010 from Politecnico di Milano, with research on the integration of urban scale policies and technologies for high efficiency multi-energy systems. His research interest focuses on analytics and predictive models for building and urban energy management, design optimization, model verification, validation and calibration under uncertainty. His research aims to establish a convergence between scientific disciplinary knowledge in building physics, building services engineering, energy efficiency and recent advances in machine learning and operation research, through an integrated use of simulation, optimization, statistics and data mining techniques (Manfren, 2017; Manfren et al., 2013, 2011).

    Dr. Ahsan Khan (AK)

    Director of Research and Innovation - Active Building Centre (ABC) & Associate Professor - Innovation and Engagement, Swansea University, ABC

    A National Centre of Excellence working collaboratively with nine other Universities and a range of industrial partners. It is a convening point for government, industry and academia to help transform the energy and construction sectors through the adoption of Active Buildings.

    In addition as advisory members together with AK:

    Charles Bradshaw-Smith (SmartKlub)

    An expert in new business models required to make local energy a reality. His 10 years energy innovation experience was used to marry system thinking with local energy to build resilient smart communities.

    Tom Elliott (ESC)

    An experienced Energy Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the construction and energy efficiency industry. Skilled in Engineering, Business Development and Project Management. Strong operations professional with a MSc Environmental Technology focused on Energy Policy from Imperial College London.


    Our approach is based on the combination of the following methods:

    • Constructive Grounded Theory (CGT) allows a rigours management of the tool kit contents. It is based on the sequences of the Saturation Phase. In other words, the conceptual framework evolves through the inclusion of further information to achieve saturation.
    • Diverse Case Method (DCM) permits the selection of appropriate case studies. This approach requires the selection of a set of cases intended to represent the full range of values characterising X (e.g., x= Building Use), Y (e.g., y= type of digital integration; type of renewable resource), or some particular X/Y relationships.
    • Cognitive Mapping Technique (CMT) facilitates the prioritising of information, visualising potential interdisciplinary interconnections, and stimulating users’ point of view in a continuous process of adaptation.
    • Meaningful Learning Activities (MLAs) enhance the integration of interdisciplinary perspectives, pointing out new directions of innovation finalised to built up Technology Support Net in Situ.

    The combination proposed is useful in elaborating new interdisciplinary interconnections, which are essential in order to organise a TSN


    The Developing a Tool Kit for Knowledge Integration: Envisioning Buildings as Energy service is supported by The Transforming Construction Network Plus (N+) which is funded by UK Research and Innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The N+ unites construction’s academic and industrial communities to create a new research and knowledge base, dedicated to addressing the systemic problems holding back the sector. The N+ is a joint project between UCL, Imperial College London and WMG, University of Warwick.


    The Tool Kit