As 2011 draws to a close we have an opportunity to look back over the year and to reflect on our achievements. In terms of public engagement, that is communicating our research and ideas to a wider public audience, the Lolo CDT have plenty to be proud of.
Several students’ MRes dissertation projects provided a stage to connect with the wider public about energy and the environment.
Kate Simpson’s work ‘The indoor air quality of a Victorian school with a post-1968 extension’ gave her the opportunity to engage with the children on issues relating to energy consumption and ventilation, by hosting and taking part in a series of assemblies and workshops. The assemblies included question and answer sessions, with the aim of informing the children of why they were taking part in the project and with the hope that they would relate this to the wider community, via their friends and families.
Continuing her work within the education sector, Kate was involved in a workshop hosted by Groundwork’s ‘climate change in schools’ group during the pupil’s ‘eco-team’ meeting. Kate presented her research to a small group of individuals who were passionate about the topics covered. The team were also taught the basics of using infra-red cameras and CO2 data loggers. The engagement activities fed back into Kate’s research and proved to be enjoyable and stimulating for all participants.
Carrie Behar’s work ‘Occupant Evaluation and Energy Performance of Barbican Estate Dwellings’ was concerned with identifying potential energy savings from more than 2000 dwellings across a series of Grade II Listed buildings. As part of her research she collaborated with the Barbican Residents Association and the Barbican Estates Office. The findings of her work led to recommendations for an energy saving intervention that is currently being piloted by the residents. Carrie was also invited to take part in the Barbican Christmas Fayre, held at the Barbican Library, where she exhibited her work as part of the sustainability stand. The Fayre attracted over 900 visitors of all ages. The last term saw Lolo students really rise to the challenge of sharing our knowledge and informing wider audiences about how our work can help make a difference.
In September we welcomed eight new students to the cohort, from a wide range of academic backgrounds. Joel Guilbaud jumped straight in to a voluntary project to engage with his local community by accepting the position of ‘Green Rep’ at his student accommodation. As part of his role Joel will sit on the Carbon Reduction Committee, who meet regularly to discuss ways to improve the energy performance of their building. The committee recently installed thin-film solar panels on the roof and Joel will be investigating and reporting on the efficiency of the system and the carbon savings made over the coming year.
Bristol based Daniel Quiggin took a break from getting to grips with Smart Grids to set up the social enterprise ‘Demand Energy Equality’, which provides free or low cost workshops for low income families to learn how to build and install their own solar panels, as well as training up course leaders so that more community groups and individuals can be empowered through access to affordable renewable power.
The next workshops will be starting in January 2012 and an open source step by step guide to making your own solar panels is available here.
In November, Carrie Behar and Faye Wade organised and presented at an evening event ‘Energy Efficiency and Occupant Behaviour: Research Findings & their Implications for Building Professionals’ hosted by Sponge Network and the UCL Energy Institute.
The event was attended by over 40 guests, who listened attentively as Faye, Carrie and UCL Energy colleague and LoLo supervisor Ian Hamilton spoke about their recent research projects, and took part in a lively discussion about the topics raised by the presentations as well as the wider issue of how to break down the barriers between academia and industry, in order to accelerate the process of making real life carbon emission savings.
Lolo students know how important it is to get out there and spread the word. That’s why seven of us have taken to Twitter as a platform for talking about our work to whoever will listen.
Follow Carrie Behar @lolostudent and the list @lolo_energydemandresearch to keep up to date with what’s going on, and please do get in touch with suggestions of who to keep an eye on, or any ideas for future collaborations. We’d love to hear from you!
Carrie Behar, December 2011