Data Analytics, Simulation, Modelling and Monitoring 

The Leeds Sustainability Insitute (LSI) have developed simulation and modelling expertise to complement their existing building performance evaluation research offer. The link between dynamic simulation modelling, steady state models and actual building performance has been critical in understanding the implications of energy policy and the performance gap. It has also opened up research avenues into energy flexibility, climate resilience and moisture risk analysis.

Collecting data from homes has become increasingly mainstream; smart meters, smart heating and smart homes are now commonplace and LSI research is making the most of this data revolution to improve our understanding of homes and how people use them. The proliferation of nationwide, government and consumer data sets has also allowed the LSI to develop new approaches to investigating domestic energy efficiency and evaluating how policy interventions have impacted on the UK housing stock.

Below are case studies related to this research and access to all our research on behaviour change.

Data analysis, modelling and simulation case studies

Investing the potential for green spaces to reduce the heat island effect in the UK and China

This project is funded by Innovate UK, in collaboration with VRM Tech, the University of Hull and academic partners in Shanghai. The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, in which cities become warmer than their surrounding green space, is a increasing problem. Major cities such as London and Shanghai are particularly suffering from the UHI effect and, during hot periods, these cities experience increased energy consumption, high levels of pollutants and negative consequences on resident health.

The principal cause of the UHI effect is the replacing of green space with buildings, roads, tarmac etc. A potential mitigating intervention is therefore to build green spaces and/or trees within your city. However, where and how to place your green assets is a complex problem. A park surrounded by skyscrapers may have less effect than one surrounded by low-level buildings. In addition, building trees in certain areas may cause them to be under stress and release VOCs, which could counter-productively increase levels of pollution. The GIAUrban project is aimed at understanding the effect that parks and trees have on the local environment. This will be achieved via a combination of open data, and data obtained by a bespoke drone-mounted hyperspectral camera. The knowledge gained during this project will be used by VRMTech to create a commercial tool that allows planners to see the effect building green spaces is likely to have.

Investigating the potential for flexibility to solve energy problems of the future

Leeds Sustainability Institute's building performance group are taking a lead on the International Energy Institutes Annex 67 project, Energy Flexible Buildings project, with more than 20 participants from across Europe and further afield. The project has commenced its preparatory year, with substantial input from our university, looking into how buildings can contribute and interact with energy networks.

Research outputs

For more information about this project please contact us.

Validating remote ways to measure thermal performance

SMETER Technologies comprise algorithms that calculate the Heat Transfer Coefficient (HTC) in combination with a product that is installed in the home to measure the parameters required by those algorithms. The feasibility phase will provide Competition Participants with data and advice to develop their algorithms and products and the results will be assessed to help decide which SMETER Technologies go through to the Field Trial. The Field Trial will evaluate the accuracy of the developed SMETER Technologies and their user acceptability. Our team brings together the UK’s leaders in this area of research, and is ideally placed to deliver an academically rigorous evaluation, as well as to provide the robust methods, models and data sets required to enable others to innovate in this area for many years to come.

Research outputs

For more information about this project please contact us.

Identifying errors in EPCs

Funding was provided by the Economic and Social Research Council via the Consumer Data Research Centre. Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) give people an idea of how energy efficient their homes are, but EPCs are notoriously unreliable and full of errors. This project identifies EPCs which are likely incorrect allowing them to be removed from any analysis. The project found that a large number (up to 62%) of EPCs contain at least one major error, calling into question how useful they are as a measure of energy efficiency in their current form. Furthermore, the errors found in each region of the UK varies considerably, with London containing the most.

Research outputs

Challenging the equity of UK Energy Price Caps

In 2017, the British Government imposed a cap on prepayment energy prices in an attempt to combat fuel poverty. The maximum amounts allowed in the price caps were based on national averages, which can ignore some of the finer detail in the data. In this work, we used smart-meter data to see if any demographics are not receiving the full benefit of the price caps. The findings suggest that many economy 7 customers are not behaving typically, and may find themselves still struggling under the current price caps.

Research outputs

  • Hardy, A., Glew, D. and Gorse, C. (2018) Assessing the equity and effectiveness of the GB energy price caps using smart meter data, Energy Policy, 127, 179-185

Evaluation of heat pump performance

Harrogate Borough Council has placed itself in the forefront of sustainable development of existing social housing stock by installing ground source heat pump technology in around 80 properties, with plans for further installations in the future. Ground source heat pumps extract heat at relatively low temperatures from an external ground loop or borehole, and transfer this heat to water in a heating system, raising its temperature sufficiently to provide both space heating and domestic hot water. The system can be supplemented by a small amount of electrical resistance heating to cover any shortfall and to raise domestic hot water temperatures to high levels for short periods, e.g. during pasteurization cycles. Some monitoring of heat pump operation and performance has already taken place and some (limited) contextual information (building type, occupancy, maintenance etc.) is also available. This data has been gathered by Harrogate Borough Council as part of normal operations, without, as yet, any attempt at a systematic analysis of heat pump performance across the Borough. This project aims to systematize existing data, using the conclusions drawn to inform the scope and methodology of future data collection. As far as is practicable at this stage it will assess the energy cost and CO2 savings achieved by the systems, and will develop in-depth case studies of a small number of selected installations via collection of additional data.

Research outputs

Project Summary

The Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL) is a major UK research project that aims to utilise household energy consumption data available via smart meters to fuel a new wave of innovative energy research. This research will help make the UK’s energy more efficient, sustainable and affordable.

The five-year project is run by a consortium of seven UK universities* and the Energy Saving Trust and is funded by UKRI (UK research councils). The team have been working since August 2017 to develop the complex technical and data governance structures needed to ensure that energy consumption data is gathered from consenting households in full accordance with the relevant legislation, including GDPR and the Smart Energy Code. 

Data will be stored on a state-of-the-art big data platform at the UK Data Archive, hosted at the University of Essex. From here, accredited UK academic researchers will get controlled access to appropriate data for approved research projects via a secure research portal. Project applications will be assessed by a data governance board to ensure that their use of the data complies with SERL’s rigorous data governance and ethical protocols.

The project team have been working with Ipsos MORI to recruit participants from England, Scotland and Wales that have a DCC-enrolled smart electricity and/or gas meter. The overall target is to recruit 8-10,000 participating households.

As part of the project, a research team from the Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University will be undertaking a Use Case Study using the data contained within the SERL secure research portal. The Case Study is based upon the fact that in winter, dwellings experience a time lag between turning on the central heating system and the dwelling reaching its desired internal set point temperature. Consequently, this project aims to characterise the building’s thermal response and quantify the amount of time it takes for dwellings to heat up to the desired internal set point temperature during winter, and thus the amount of time in which they are spent in thermal discomfort. The time taken can be defined as a ‘heat-up time lag’. Characterisation of building thermal response, along with analysis and quantification of the ‘heat-up time lag’, will also enable the identification of those dwellings that are most vulnerable to extreme weather events.

*University College London, University of Essex UK Data Archive, Cardiff University, University of Edinburgh, Leeds Beckett University, Loughborough University, University of Southampton

Read more

If you are interested in learning more about using SERL data, visit SERL through the link below.

Identifying energy efficiency improvements in supermarkets

Energy use and management in supermarkets represents a challenge as well as an opportunity. Improvements have the potential to benefit companies and consumers, and to contribute to the achievement of UK carbon reduction targets. This research project has the aim of improving energy efficiency in supermarkets using data visualisation tools. Funding was provided by Innovate and partners were: ASDA, who provided the data and case studies, Cybula, who developed the software, REMS and the Leeds Sustainability Institute (LSI), based at Leeds Beckett University. The project identified that it is recommended that visualisation tools should only be used in stores where there is high confidence around the quality and quantity of available data and a data capture pro forma has been developed to inform this. Shop floor area is conventionally the preferred method of normalising energy data to rank store performance. This was found to be acceptable and other minor variables were discovered to be relatively unimportant. However, using volume to normalise gas and HVAC energy use, and using chilled floor area when normalising refrigeration energy provided the best normalisation. Two approaches were used to predict a store’s ‘normal’ performance. The first simply used data to determine the mathematical correlation between energy use and energy demand. This produced a somewhat useful model for gas use and refrigeration energy use that could be incorporated into a visualisation tool, though HVAC energy use displayed much weaker correlation. The second approach used calibrated simplified dynamic simulation models to create baseline models of stores to compare stores as well as assessing changes in energy caused by varying inputs such as same ceiling heights.

Research outputs

For more information about this project please contact us.

Identifying the causes of damp to protect vulnerable tenants and inform council interventions

As part of the project investigating the condition and damp issues in Leeds City Council-owned homes, Leeds Sustainability Institute at Leeds Beckett University were commissioned to undertake a series of quantitative and qualitative research exercises. These were: airtightness measurement of dwellings, thermographic survey of dwellings, occupant interviews, and analysis of in-use internal environment data. Overall, the airtightness of dwellings in the research sample is not a major concern when considering their age and material condition. The key consideration, however, is that the values presented are for uncontrolled air movement aggregated across the whole dwelling. It is likely that air exchange is not occurring in a consistent way, with some areas potentially over-ventilating (e.g. windows, gaps and cracks) and some under-ventilating (e.g. wet rooms). It is for this reason that it is necessary to undertake a thermographic survey alongside the airtightness test when the dwelling is depressurised. The thermal surveys identified several commonly occurring issues with the building fabric, which may contribute to the formation of damp and mould. One barrier to tenants taking preventative action was a lack of capability due to faulty or non-existent mechanical ventilation systems. Although aware of risk, occupants reported very little guidance for damp prevention, suggesting a lack of knowledge towards both the cause and prevention of damp. Damp prevention guidance may therefore be effective in reducing damp occurrence.

Research outputs

For more information about this project please contact us.

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