Energy and buildings


Addressing the great challenges that face us in the spheres of energy and the built environment requires a broad perspective that acknowledges the complex inter-connected nature of our energy system and the buildings we use. Research in the School of Civil Engineering accordingly encompasses the design, management, operation and regeneration of energy infrastructure, buildings and the urban environment. Our research aims to advance the state of architecture and engineering to address the key challenges of developing and maintaining buildings that make efficient use of resources, can be operated sustainably, provide healthy environments and contribute to our wellbeing.

Transforming the production, distribution, storage and use of energy to achieve a national system that is resilient and sustainable is one of the great challenges that we face. Innovation will be required, not only in how we generate, distribute, and store energy but also in how different elements of our energy infrastructure is procured, owned and managed. Buildings will become active rather than passive in the way they interact with the energy system. Our research sees the energy and built environments as closely coupled systems.

Buildings and the aesthetic value and physical environment they provide, facilitate our home and work activities and consequently play an important role in our health and wellbeing. Our research embraces development of some of the most energy efficient approaches to provide heating and cooling and ventilation in buildings but also considers the quality and health of the indoor environment and the relationships between the way that we live and the performance of our buildings.

Research areas include:

  • Energy efficient ventilation: natural and low energy ventilation, including relationships to air quality and occupant health
  • Energy from waste: integrated approaches to solid waste management, mechanical-biological treatment and solid fuel recovery technologies, material characterisation, process quality control
  • Energy geotechnics: geothermal heating and cooling system design; ground heat exchanger and energy pile modelling and monitoring; ground properties assessment; heat pump applications
  • Energy storage and distribution: economic analysis and risk assessment of large-scale storage systems; ground thermal energy storage applications; thermal energy networks
  • Nuclear energy infrastructure: small modular reactors, load-following and co-generation, decommissioning and end of life management
  • Sustainable buildings: multi-disciplinary approaches to low carbon design; optimal structural design; low impact materials and waste minimization; relationships between occupant behaviours and building performance
  • Underground coal gasification and carbon capture and storage: modelling of coupled porous media problems and rock mechanics for energy applications.

We are part of the cross-faculty Energy Leeds initiative. Energy Leeds brings together academics with expertise in energy technologies, policy, behavioural science, environmental assessment and climate change science. We are also engaged with leading international organisations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC) and regularly speak at related events and conferences.

Contact us

If you would like to discuss an area of research in more detail, contact the theme lead: Dr Simon Rees or either of the deputy theme leads: Dr Ornella Iuorio or Dr Giorgio Locatelli.

We have opportunities for prospective PhD students including a number of studentships. Informal enquiries can be made to the deputy theme leads.