UCL congratulates another LoLo PhD success

UCL congratulates another LoLo PhD success
28th February 2022 emily jennings

The LoLo community congratulates Dr Jessica Few on passing her viva in April 2021. Jessica, who is now working as a Research Fellow in UCL’s Energy Institute, joins many of her fellow cohort who completed their PhD’s during the pandemic. We spoke to Jessica about her time in LoLo.


What was the title of your thesis, and what was it about?
‘Ventilation in occupied homes: measurement, performance and sociotechnical perspectives’

Ventilation is important for maintaining good indoor air quality, something that has gained attention recently because of the pandemic. At the same time, excessive ventilation can lead to significant heat loss and consequently can contribute to inefficient buildings. Ventilation is also highly variable, being dependent on weather conditions, building characteristics and occupant actions. Despite this, empirical evidence relating to ventilation in dwellings usually measures ventilation over extended time periods or takes a small number of snapshot measurements. Moreover, measurement studies are very rarely combined with insights regarding occupant use of ventilation equipment. This can mean it is challenging to understand the ventilation conditions actually experienced by occupants. My PhD explored these issues in the following ways:

  • I developed analysis algorithms to facilitate repeated measurements of ventilation in occupied homes using metabolically generated CO2.
  • These analysis algorithms meant I was able to analyse data collected over six months in four homes and measure over 500 ventilation rates across these homes.
  • This allowed me to explore how changes in weather, and use of doors and windows affected the ventilation rates in these homes.
  • I also used a social practice theory framework to analyse qualitative interviews with the occupants to explore the ways that the they influenced the ventilation rate, and how this compared with the ventilation system design.


What were the highlights of LoLo? 
It was great going through the PhD with a cohort of students in the same year as we were going through similar stages at similar times so it felt like we were going through it together. Also having students in years above and below meant that we could gather and pass on advice which was lovely. The group of students and the staff supporting LoLo were all doing really different and interesting work so we got a broad view of issues in the field, our annual events with Loughborough were great for this too.


What are you doing now? 
I’m still at the UCL Energy Institute, I’m now a Research Fellow working on the SERL (Smart Energy Research Laboratory) project. We are collecting and analysing smart meter data linked with contextual data (like EPCs, surveys and weather data) from 13’000 homes in Great Britain, and making this data freely available to other researchers via the UK Data Service.