Oct 132011

Today myself (Nicola) and James from the JISC GECO project are at the Centre for Climate Change for the GECO/STEEV Green Energy Tech Workshop. We will be live-blogging, taking pictures and capturing sound today and you will be able to find the slides here after the event. We will also be tweeting with the hashtag #e3vis.

Please note that as this is a liveblog there may be errors, gaps etc. Please do let us know if you spot a correction or omission and please do leave comments here on the event itself.

The programme for the JISC GECO/STEEV Green Energy Tech Event can be downloaded here [PDF] or viewed below:

We are just kicked off at the Green Energy Tech Event having had registration and lunch. Stuart Macdonald of the STEEV project is welcoming us with a thank you to Jim Hart of the Edinburgh Centre on Climate Change for hosting today’s event. We have representatives here from public private and academic sectors so big thank yous to all for coming today. We have a packed programme so we will be keeping carefully to time today. And now over to James Reid to introduce the GECO project.

Introduction & GECO project – James Reid, EDINA (http://geco.blogs.edina.ac.uk/ )

James Reid from the JISC GECO project is kicking off proceedings today by explaining that EDINA is a JISC National Data Centre running various projects and services for the Higher and Further Education sector including a number of geospatial projects. A while ago JISC wanted to fun a strand of geospatial projects and the project I manage, JISC GECO, is supporting those JISC-funded geospatial projects by pulling together various strands, ideas, etc. So I have a bit of a JISC hat on today for GECO and a small STEEV hat as well!

One strand of the GECO project is events like these that pull together different JISC funded geospatial projects including STEEV. Another strand of our work is around INSPIRE – the EU INSPIRE Directive. There’s a bit more about INSPIRE on your memory sticks [in our packs today] and I’m happy to discuss INSPIRE at any point today.

Spatio-Temporal Energy Efficiency Visualisation (STEEV) tool – Stuart Macdonald, EDINA (http://steevsrv.edina.ac.uk/ )

Stuart, project manager for the STEEV project is now introducing the project. The context for this work is that the UK Government has a commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 but most building stock that will be there in 2050 is already built so there is a huge amount of work for researchers and policy makers to do to bring that existing stock so that it meets those carbon requirements.

So this JISC-funded project project is a partnership between EDINA and the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff. The project uses Time Series Energy Estimates – historical, current and future modeled estimates. A post industrial space in Neath Port Talbot. Originally generated by the Energy and Environmental Predication (EEP) model. Also fits into EPSRC funded Retrofit 2050 project. The EEP model has four sub models and the one we are interested in is a domestic model which has 100 domestic building types including CO2 emission, SAP, average energy cost etc.

The STEEV service uses a data map service that we run at EDINA and uses GIS with the interface build with JavaScript. The tool looks at several scenarios:

  1. Faint Hearted: Business as usual
  2. Low Carbon Reference: Government invests in small scale renewables
  3. Super Ambitious: huge changes, mass use of renewables, nuclear etc.

Those canned scenarios can be viewed as visualisations on the web tool we have created. You can also tweak various variables: The Grid; Renewables; Energy Efficiency; Occupancy Behaviour. Stuart is now demonstrating how the site will work – the prototype is not yet live but will be later next month.

From the tool you can view visualisations and you can also access a rastor file with an output area and spatial field to allow you to visualise it in a GIS. Can also download in KML that allow you to visualise different scenarios on tools like Google Earth. Functionality called “timeslider” lets you view thematic content over time. We have just had usability work done on the tool and we would love to have your feedback on the interface no matter how big or small the issues are.

There is potential to bring in further data sets and match up with the model variables in the future. We will have a building freeze on 11/11/11 and we will launch the online tool at the JISC GeoTools event on 28th November 2011 in London.

You can access the demonstrator here: http://steevsrv.edina.ac.uk/ (try http://steevsrv.edina.ac.uk/data/ to access the KMLs etc). You can also read about the project on the blog: http://steev.blogs.edina.ac.uk/.

EEP Modelling / RETROFIT2050 brief project overview (Diana Waldron, Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University)

Firstly I should say that this research and the EEP model has been a long term project with many people and partners involved so I am here as a representative for that much larger set of previous work and past and current colleagues and project partners.

The main idea of the EEP project was to use GIS as the data highway for a variety of sub-models. It’s a very modular model with applications in lots of different situations.

The main initial funders was the Engineering and Physical Science Research Centre and this was to develop a model for “sustainable cities” with lots of project partners. In 1998 a further project began to further develop the EEP model. New partners came in to help gain further information into energy user. In a third phase there was a desire to match the wealth of data to other projects and in this phase they worked with health in the “HANAH – Housing and Neighbourhoods and Health” – this work focused on the Neath Port Talbot area. The final phase (so far) took place in 2007 with the classification and analysis of regional buildings so that they could try to establish how broadly the model could be applied. So the model has been applied in other areas/cities e.g. Sydney.

I will focus on the domestic sub model now. It is based on the SAP model. You cannot take house by house data but you can take a group of houses and that means making some assumptions based on research in the area – house shape, material, glazing, wall ratio, etc. What sort of chimney a house has gives a clue about the type of heating a house has. So in the area we looked at – Neath and Port Talbot – we looked at houses in clusters of 100 and classified them by 5 ages of houses as their building processes tend to have a clear effect on energy efficiency. We can also make some assumptions about energy use based on whether houses are pre 1965 and post 1965 because of changes in building and insulation materials.

EEP Health Sub Model – this is inspired by one of the first geographical analysis of health, the John Snow mapping of cholera outbreaks. This is an application of the EEP model that brings in health and injury data. Through this work, for instance, the researchers found that Purpose Build Flats have twice the number of overall injuries and five times the number of incidents of poisoning as other types of houses. This type of correlation raises real opportunities for further research and improvement of public health.

EEP model is helping us look at various aspects of the built environment to look at improvement to energy efficiency and changes to the built environment which is why we are involved in the Retrofit 2050 project – a joint project between multiple UK universities. The focus is on what needs fixing and how it can be fixed through linking up experts and possible innovative solution to create more energy efficient buildings, how to de-carbonise the grid. There are four work packages to this project: Urban transitions analysis; Urban Foresight Panel; Urban Options, Visualisation and Pathways Analysis EEP and STEEV modeling; Synthesis, Comparison and Knowledge Exchange.

We are looking for leap or step change to achieve the targets. The targets need to be ambitious to make real changes. Any questions to Diana Waldron or Simon Lannon at the Welsh School of Architecture.


Q1) That was physical Surveying?

A1) Yes. With the case studies they found better ways to do it using computer-based Ordnance Survey maps and historical data – physical shapes give a lot of clues about building materials and methods etc. But obviously have to be site visits to cluster the different visits. It takes quite a bit of labour but it’s worth it – the more effort we put in the more accurate the results we can get.

Q2) Have you validated your model against actual figures?

A2) I would need to get back to you after speaking to Simon Lannon as my own projects are very new so we haven’t validated those yet.

Q3) You showed the data on health and housing type. We know that health is related to socio-economic status, age group etc. – was there any work on the people inside these spaces and not just on the buildings.

A3) I’m not sure, I think they mainly compared building type and injuries but they did consider factors like mould and illness associated with that.


Edinburgh Centre for Climate Change – Jim Hart, ECCC (http://www.climatechangecentre.org.uk/ )

The Retrofit agenda is something very close to our hearts here so we are delighted to be hosting today.

Most of you may not be aware of the ECCC as we are very new. We are a collaborative project between University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Napier University and Heriot-Watt. We have been set up to be the world leader in supporting the innovative ideas and solutions that will help create a low carbon future. We work across sectors but particularly with business and knowledge exchange. We will be converting and moving into High School Yards in a building that will help us practice what we preach as it has been designed by local architects

Expert training and education for decision makers, thought leaders and innovators. We are building up programmes to do this and there is an international aspect here too – we are currently working with the Commonwealth and Foreign Office to look at getting a Chinese delegation over here. We have European funding particularly for supporting SMEs (Small and Medium size Enterprises). Much of this is about using innovative technology and processes but it’s also about softer things, the question of how we get technologies that are well established already into place – overcoming financial, legal, inertia barriers.

We will be running awareness raising events, expanding into training programmes, offering free services to business etc. We’ll look at things like “Smart cities” sounds like technology factors but it’s also about cultural factors and how we can use proven technology to enable better use of energy in buildings – huge opportunities to improve areas with ICT; Building refurbishment – and how this can be rapidly rolled out across a lot of areas; Occupant Behaviour – I’m working with a company creating real time energy usage/saving results which are innovative; Carbon Management and Finance; Data Management in this area.


Energy Use and Generation: Modelling and Mapping for Social Housing Landlords – Antony Scott, Sustain.co.uk – (http://www.sustain.co.uk)

Sustain is an environmental consulting company and I’ll be focusing on one of our major clients are housing associations and meeting and reducing carbon targets for domestic housing. So I wanted to look at how GIS can contribute to improved energy management for housing associations across their stock. So firstly it is useful at the level of strategic thinking – what are we doing, what is currently happening. Then it is useful at the next stage of modelling and implementing actions to be taken.

SAP is a standard way of reporting energy efficiency that housing associations have to report on. Most housing associations know their SAP values. If they have built locations recently they will already know these but many housing associations manage older stock where it is far less clear how they can find the SAP – we look at this and how they can move towards targets. And we also support them in looking at what will be realistic about where they are going and how they will get there. You establish your SAP baseline and there is a desire to improve that to a certain level but what actions need to be taken to get to that target level – should they be insulating, replacing boilers, etc?

This is a complex process with multiple stages from Requirements, Data Collections and Analysis through to Decisions. Mapping can play a major role in understanding and visualising data. I was very interested in the visualisation stuff already discussed. We try to grapple with what is going to be a useful visualisation – how do you show energy on the map. Also unlike the visualisations mentioned earlier the housing association stock list may be geographically dispersed – a real practical obstacle to overcome.

So we have area level data – neighbourhood or post code data. We use standard open source packages – they are good and free which keeps costs down for housing associations. We can also look at property level data – what measures could be taken on that property and what current/possible future SAP ratings could be. We put data on the website for all housing association staff to access, not just the top level decision makers. Currently we have two housing associations using this mapping approach to understand their data, it has great potential though.

Solar PV – what happens with Solar PV installations – this is a much more practical issue. Solar panels and their economics… there are three real sources of income: every KiloWatt hour you generate you get 43.3pence for whether you use it or not. Anything you use you will save on your power bills, anything you don’t use can be sold. You put in £6000 system and within 10 years you’ll have generated enough to pay for the system and you go on earning beyond there. So this is also why some power companies offer to put them up for free – they are great investments. So, housing associations are looking at Solar PV and we are using stereo Aerial Photography to see which houses are suitable for Solar PV, how steep roofs are etc (cue 3D glasses in use around the room). That’s a relatively inexpensive process (Sustain use Blue Sky who already have aerial photography) to digitise each roof.

Q1) Do you get the SLUG report on that?

A1) Yes, and that’s important to understanding the energy that can be generated.

So we take the data on the roofs, attribute and slope data and put it through the data schema and combine with maps and sun levels of UK and that lets us put together the business case for the housing associations and a reasonable picture of income generation. We try to map this, combine with SAP data, so that housing associations have a range of data on which to base decisions on their properties. We try to show how panels could be places, how long they might take to pay for themselves etc. We can also show areas of poverty that can be eligible for grant funding etc.

Before I finish I realise I haven’t mentioned EDINA but we use their OpenStream data in this work for housing associations.


Q2) This is great given the current Feed-in Tariff – which provides income no matter what energy usage is like. When that scheme ramps down – which it will at some point – aren’t you then going to care a lot more about occupant behaviour?

A2) Absolutely. The scheme will probably change in some way in April though I don’t think it will disappear. Behaviour is hugely important though and we try to give a crude idea of what impact behaviour change, smart monitors, etc. can make. That along with Solar PV can make an enormous difference though.


Highland Heat Mapping – Kenny Monteath, AECOM (http://www.aecom.com/ )

AECOM specialise in engineering and business service, I specialise in GIS work and I’ll be talking about a project over the last year with the Scottish Government and the Highland Council to map Highland energy usage.

The Highland Heat Map is a pilot project funded by the Scottish Government coming out of a previous heat mapping project. It is a proof of concept for use elsewhere in Scotland. It was also a requirement to be a more detailed exercise than a previous exercise in 2007 – that was at 1Km but this was intended to be much more locally applicable – but also usable at regional and national level. The project was completed April 2011. The background to the project was set against drivers like Climate Change Scotland Act 2009 and it’s Renewable Heat Action Plan – targets for generating heat through renewable energy. Also the Scottish Zero Waste Plan and, less so, by he Renewable Heat Incentive but also rising energy bills.

The Highland Council wanted to use this resource to inform planning policy and in making informed decisions in the planning process. Specifically testing local plan development process. They wanted to influence policy over how and where development could take place sustainably. What impact will decisions, policies etc. have on the long term future of the area. There was also a keenness for partners of the council to also be able to use this tool – stakeholoders who work with but outside the council.

So what is the Highland Heat Map? It’s a spatial planning tool bringing together heat demand – domestic, commercial, industrial; Speciality Issues such as waste industrial heat, biomass fuel sources etc; Opportunities/constraints – planning data like flood zones. The spatial data allows analysis and planning.

The heat demand methodology calculates demands at individual property level – so we can look at a very local level and use this as part of planning tools. We have categories of domestic, commercial & industrial and public buildings. We used address locations, energy consumption details for public buildings – council information, and data from the Scottish property conservation survey(?).

We can create highly detailed maps with properties energy levels shown building by building. We can aggregate that to a 50 metre grid, then we can bring out key energy loads – particularly important when looking for opportunities.

In terms of what the heat map is – data layers on Heat Demand, Heat Supple, Skills/Technology, Opportunities/Constraints – about 22 or 23 layers across these and there are tools like postcode summary, scenario development for points and polygons underpin the Highland Heat Map.

So I will now finishing by showing two different tools. The fist was developed thinking about planning applications – how does development impact future heat demand, where are opportunities. Example is Inverness – a mixed use development being built over 15 years. Overlay an area map with the master plan. We take baseline existing heat demand in the area and assign energy values to this. As you sit through phases of building you see changes in heat demand. This takes you to a final heat demand map.

The other tool is about heat density – the purpose is to look for patterns across an area and bring out summary heat demand around an area and looking for major energy loads, clusters and affects over a larger area to help you find opportunities.

The heat map is robust and scalable – do contact Kenny with any questions.


Q1) You are mapping parameters and looking for patterns but you aren’t doing any modeling – etc?

A1) The scenario tools allow the council to understand what changes would occur. In terms of removing forestry that wouldn’t be covered as such but it’s more to do with built development. So the masterplan example – looking at impact vs. other developments in the area. Or even looking at layouts of planned development and looking for possible alternatives for layouts that will balance heat demand more appropriately.


Heat and the City David Hawkey, University Edinburgh (http://www.heatandthecity.org.uk/)

I will be talking about Heat and the City, District Energy systems and how to build them.

Heat and the City is funded by the RC-UK Energy programme and it’s a multi-disciplinary, collaborative project. Year 2 (which we are in) is looking at urban DE systems with case studies in various cities (Birmingham, Aberdeen, Rotterdam, etc.), working on context mapping, and a municipal leadership for DE workshop. In years 3 and 4 we will look in depth at Edinburgh and Glasgow working with councils, public, private and community sectors.

So what are DE (District Energy) systems? They are networked heat and energy systems that efficiently share energy across an area. Energy from waste can be a district energy system. Data centres are numerous and huge consumers of energy and cooling. In Helsinki they will be pumping heat out of data centres for heat and water heating systems. There are technologies in an innovative project in Malmo City – seasonal heat storage. Excess summer heat is stored and pumped out in winter and vice versa. There are a wide array of technological components that can be put together. So you also have developments that use CHP (Combined Heat and Power) – for instance a tower block in Aberdeen where they have used CHP to provide inexpensive heat and it appears to have improved long term mould and health problems in the building. They extended the CHP down to “The Beach” ballroom. You have different heat profiles at different times of day and this is another dimension of how District Heating Networks work. Edinburgh also has a mid scale network in the centre of town. The Scottish government has been looking at waste heat in power stations over a much larger network.

So District Energy Systems are a diverse array of technologies and a very great variety of technologies and components. DE demands an integrated perspective on energy needs of buildings. Systems are tailored to local challenges and opportunities and they address a variety of policy issues from environmental to poverty alleviation measures. All of those visualisation tools we’ve seen today are important to looking at DE.

For DE the information you need is beyond just the built form of the area. How do buildings connect? There are social aspects – how recently has an existing system been installed for instance?

So in trying to understand development of DE Networks we take lead form local authorities – they are at the centre of these sorts of developments as they represent large amounts of concentrated heat demand but also work with and have regulatory powers over other organisations in their local area.

Local Energy Government and Organisation – LEGO – represents all the components that have to come together – users and building owners/managers must be on board, local authorities need to draw in expertise and often the finance of “cosmepolitan actors” including multinational energy companies, local authority departments must work together as DE cuts across multiple areas. It’s a complex series of actors and components.

Usually in local authorities there is a district champion for District Energy – they need to understand spatial layout of the area, long term heat demands and developments – “Think big, start small”. That champion has to build awareness and legistamacy for heat network among a range of stakeholders, they need suitable knowledge and financial resources, and DE Networks are embedded in developing policy, infrastructure and market contexts. The UK and Scottish governments recognise the value of these approaches and the Scottish Government has a loans fund for local District Energy Networks.

Fina out more on http://www.heatandthecity.org.uk/.


ShareGeo & GoGeo (a very quick overview) – Addy Pope, EDINA (http://edina.ac.uk/projects/sharegeo/ )

Addy is going to do a very rapid overview of ShareGeo and GoGeo. We do some data services restricted to Higher and Further Education – these are in Digimap which is well worth registering for if you are eligible. But we also have services targeted at a wider audience. GoGeo is a website looking at all aspects of geo information, news and you can find resources by searching metadata – in some cases you can also access that data from the record, otherwise you can contact the data holder to request access. ShareGeo Open allows open sharing of geospatial data – anyone can contribute and use data in ShareGeo. There is data on home insulation and location of windfarms that might be of particular interest – please do share data here if you have suitable data to share.

The Digimap OpenStream WMS provides a webstream of the Ordnance Survey open data sets which is for Higher and Further Education though do ask us if you would like acccess for a project – like Anthony at Sustain has. Similarly OpenBoundaries also provides open data this time on area boundaries (if you have access to Digimap you can also use UKBorders). And we have Unlock which is a series of web tools to unlock the geospatial potential through geotagging text etc.

And to finish I thought I’d show you some examples of some of our geospatial data sets on location of windfarms and home energy efficiency.


Urban scale retrofitting in the conservation of Georgian buildings in Edinburgh – Cristina Gonzalez-Longo and Dimitris Theodossopoulos, Architecture, Univ. Edinburgh

Cristina is opening the presentation:

If you ask what conservation and sustainability about there is a real shared interest in the environment, people, and protecting them for the future. Buildings is a large part of our environment. We have to make a lot of assumptions about them. 80% of 2050 building stock is already here – that’s hugely important. Modern construction principles cannot be applied to all buildings – there are real sensitivities here – also opportunities. Edinburgh is a world Heritage Site but many many cities have a conservation area.

In Edinburgh we have one of the best examples of European town planning. The World Heritage properties are about communities and sustainability but no indication of how to apply this. We have some very special areas in Edinburgh’s New Town but we have many ordinary buildings in the city as well. There are high expectations and key reports on low carbon buildings but little has been applied so far.

So there have been energy efficiency pilots in Edinburgh – via solar panels on Lauriston Place for instance. The City of Edinburgh also has a policy to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. That pilot was well received – solar panels were placed out of the view of Edinburgh Castle – that’s the sort of limitation in which conservation and sustainability has to be applied. The existing building stock in Edinburgh includes a large number of Georgian properties. In most homes windows are a major source of heating loss but thanks to the historical window taxes in Edinburgh the walls are actually the area of major heat loss in many historical flat buildings.

You can’t just assume the age of the buildings – have they been renovated? And you can’t assume the areas of heat loss etc. But you can build a database of actual configuration. Historic Scotland Technical Paper 10 – U Vales and traditional buildings include good calculations that we can use in our practice.

Examples of interventions – Falstone Tea Rooms – this is a historical building in a conservation area where we have taken a contemporary approach – I have put this in as I think this idea about hiding solar panels has to be reconsidered. You can use PV to build a roof so we have a sensitive use of PV as roofing for part of the property. We don’t dress up as 17th Century – buildings shouldn’t dress up that way either!

Historical planning documents and a full understanding of the materials are so important for retrofitting. And sometimes things like Shutters can be a great way to save energy and this is historically sympathetic. The idea of not double glazing a historic building is wrong – you can secondary glaze or have sympathetic second layers of glass added but it is more expensive, that is the only issue.

Over to Dimitrios:

We drew together these ideas from our experiences but moving forward we wanted to think about the way that digital tools can feed into conservation in the future. Our key question is how to improve the energy efficiency of historic assets without affecting the integrity or value of the buildings. We think that the tools we have seen this morning as tools to understand and spark the imagination of historic building owners. One of the ways forward is dissemination. This publication – the Care and Conservation of Georgian Houses (Davey-Heath-Hodges-Ketchin-Milne) is very popular with architects but it needs serious updating for the right audience(s) to include energy level fitting – survey of energy retrofitting in Edinburgh; Need for centralised control – reflect on role of Council or World Heritage Trust; Monitor current practice – upgrade of single pane or muli-pane buildings etc.

We have also designed construction models with the city council to show key details that require very speacialist knowledge construction professionals. So we have models of chimney, Window surround. You can expand to cover energy efficiency – whether digital or physical models. But I also think we should be modeling typical buildings in areas where buildings are very similar to each other – say Montague Street – to see what is and is not effective and what can be done.


Q1) This is very outside my expertise but it sounds like its still very hard for owners of listed buildings to retrofit historic buildings and yet we have big new commercial developments like Quartermile

A1 – Cristina) Sometimes we have people able to refit a whole house, others aren’t even able to fit a rooflight – that’s the reality of our legislation.

A1 – Dimitrios) You also do this by practice – let building owners see the potential benefits of things like PV. The cost of refurbishment in general has come in for criticism with the City Council so you really have to convince the building owner of the longterm buildings

A1 – Cristina) You have to plan – you can’t do everything at once.


15.30 – 15.45 – The Impact of Listed Building Legislation on Energy Efficiency  (Jennifer Gregory, Univ. Edinburgh, MSc thesis)

I have just completed the MSc in Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh and I wanted to look at how listed building legislation affects energy efficiency and that was inspired by growing up in Edinburgh with all of the historic buildings we have around.

I started by looking at DEC certificate data for the City of London. Then I looked at Time series analysis – to see if listed buildings improved to a lesser extent to non listed buildings. Then I looked at creating Case Studies. I used EPOR/Asset Ratio and CO2 emissions/m2 as performance indicators across this work.

Before looking at London specifically I wanted to look at the energy efficiency of public buildings in England and Wales overall. The average EPOR in 2oo8/09 was 112 but there was an uneven distribution of buildings in each EPOR band – some 30% are in Category D, 18% are in Category G etc.  London is not representative of all of England and Wales – it’s average EPOR was 130. The listed buildings were mainly in Band G. From looking at just that information it wasn’t clear that it was the legislation causing poorer performance of listed vs non listed buildings. I wanted to see if listed buildings performed worse – over the time I looked at London increased EPOR ratings by over 9% (rather than improving) but listed buildings went up by 60% so they certainly performed poorly compared to wider stock.

My case studies, at the University of Edinburgh, it became clear that the EPC reports and certificates had been created but were not being used once created and I therefore recommended use of these in ongoing maintenance and management of the building. Some renovations work which has been passed by the council include the Old Royal High School (Grade B Listed) which had hand blown glass windows and has received permission to install double glazed energy efficient glazing. Planning permission was also given for Adam Ferguson Building (Grade B Listed) where renovations and extension had been allowed as long as the overall profile of the building was not changed (a floor was added, a vertical extension to the rear part of the structure was also allowed. Some other renovations

There is potential for further research. Much of the information I used was only obtained under Freedom of Information and there are some moves towards this – making this data available publicly would help organisations to plan and examine this data. In Scotland EPCs are produced but not registered or available to access. They only need to be created every 7 years so you cannot track performance over time very easily. I found that there is some restriction to energy efficiency from listed building legislation – decisions are case by case but early discussion allowed some opportunity for approval. A balance needs to be struck between the conservation of the building and the improvement of energy efficiency.


Q1) The DEC database – is that a central database

A1) A central database that a BBC correspondent made available. A further organisation and the Guardian have requested more detailed Freedom of Information requests for the same information. The public building has the DEC so if a public building moves you can’t trace the *building* over the time.

Q2) One of the recommendations from a software analysis for one of the University of Edinburgh buildings was for a wind turbine. If the recommendations were produced by people rather than software it wouldn’t have popped up as they know the legislation wouldn’t permit this.

A2) One of the issues was that you needed to get people out to look at the building to give recommendations that were not necessarily useful and people already know the legislation – there is a need for both easier to use recommendations AND for filtered recommendations to go to those who already have lots of specialist staff (like the university).


A3) I wanted to look at barriers that were there. I didn’t find any examples of renovated Grade A buildings which perhaps speaks for itself.


ICT and GHG emissions: Just how green are virtual worlds – Kevin Houston (http://www.carbonmasters.co.uk)

I also came out of the Carbon Management Programme – I had been at Proctor & Gamble and then at IBM and I grew more and more interested in the carbon impact of ICT. I now advise businesses and, at the moment, am working with the EU, to look at the carbon footprint of ICT.

ICT impacts environmental sustainability heavily – resources, waste, rare metals, waste, non renewable materials. And there is the huge amount of energy that ICT uses throughout its lifespan. But ICT can also mitigate – reducing travel costs through virtual meetings, planning and management for efficiency, control systems for energy. But we don’t know what the long-term socio-economic effect of ICT will be. So when they first looked at home working patterns and saw an initial reduction in carbon – less travel – but they have found that people also change bahaviours to run errands etc. during a homeworking day which may burn up the same amount of carbon in the end.

ICT represents a double edged sword. So if we look at, say, virtual worlds. So Second Life has 25 million users and 40,000-50,000 avatars are online at any time – huge computing power behind this. Nicholas Carr did a calculation – the energy consumed by the average user is the same as an average Brazilian person – a canny comparison as they have a lot of efficient hydroelectric power but that’s still a lot of power. Could you use virtual worlds to dematerialise transport? Particularly interested in transport emissions – they are growing everywhere in the world even as other aspects of our lives are becoming more efficient. Much travel is leisure but business travel subsidises economy and leisure travel – business represents huge amounts of travel. The bulk of business travel is by large corporations running internal meetings. If you could reduce business travel you would drive up the price of flying

Shell, IBM vs University of Edinburgh, Imperial College. In IBM and Imperial they had run virtual conferences in Second Life so I used those to make a comparison. IBM built a huge 16 island complex for 264 participants all behind their firewall. Their behaviour followed regular conferences – the busiest day was the second day! It was significant reduction in aviation carbon. I also looked at the energy of the server – the use phase of computing (only did use phase of flying). There is a significant saving on carbon for the virtual meeting. Imperial ran a one day conference for 62 people. It was on a smaller scale but it also represented significant emissions training.

Shell use Second Life today to train staff to put out fires on an oil platform – very hard to do in the classroom. Imperial also have a medical school where a patient presents with symptoms and if the right medical approach is presented the avatar lives, if not the patient dies in SL. So why doesn’t everyone use SL? Well there are huge challenges to bring that behind our own firewalls and existing IT infrastructures. The embedded carbon in each student having their own computer is about a tonne. We have device proliferation. P&G and Unilever are running “bring your PC to work” weeks to see how own machines can be used at work – how we look for efficiencies between home and work machines. Our relationship to technology is changing. Estimates are that 80% of carbon is in production process – changing machines regularly means you have a much huger carbon footprint. We have to understand better how we use technology – we could be kidding ourselves. We are all device crazy and we need to think about how we’re using them.

We need more research of these 3rd order effects before the undoubted potential of ICT to make a positive contribution to resolving the climate change challenge can be made real.

Infrared Imaging and it’s place within the built environment- Alan Little standing in for Stewart Little, IRT Surveys (http://www.irtsurveys.co.uk/)

Started off 10 years ago looking at building defects – rather than seeing a picture building owners wanted to know what the defect was costing them in terms of energy losses. The company works across the world and has 11 offices in the UK. They have looked at 50000 houses, we work with housing association, work on flat roofs, we work with supermarkets etc. With digital images you can adjust an image as you want to tell your own story. What we do is that we don’t sell any products – no agenda in the information we present. We just sell information.

What we do is that for a normal thermal image you get readings and an idea of overall heat loss. Our software, using a tailored algorithm, drains the colour from the building and visualises heat loss and also calculates cost of heat loss. It uses SAP and U values and produces real life data to understand heat loss. You can find the U value of any point on a wall/building. We embed a “carbon hotfoot” – red indicates an issue. A lot of people are visual and so it’s important that images indicate where essential problems are. The software calculates lost energy, cost and carbon footprint of that loss.

We work with housing associations and, to take a representative example, we looked a 10,000 houses in 20 days. We do our surveying at night, the heating has to be on, and the weather has to be dry. Mass data capture very quickly. 500-1000 houses per night. This housing association thought buildings were at about a C level but we found they were mainly D and E.

When we have that data we feed it into a spreadsheet – it’s simple and non specialist so it’s easy for staff to use and understand the data. We can add in information about measures to improve stock so that housing association can look at house by house, by street, by area etc.

We use unique patented software patented across the world. It shows real world data. Dundee is our hub where we process all images and do the development. One of our directors is David Jones who wrote Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto – he scans GIS databases and has build a 3D view of the UK – look on YouTube for Real Time Worlds.

We also do commercial reports that breaks down properties into EPC, thermal and energy loss and possible savings – walls, roofs, windows, HVAC (Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning). What’s becoming more important is the CRC – the Carbon Reduction Commitment whih has a financial commitment.

There was a comment earlier about EPCs and people not seeing their value. We have developed a Carbon Dashboard that you can upload any EPC into. This is online and deliberately simple to use. It gives you cost and energy saving information to see the impact of various changes. You can play around and see the best options for you. Not on this version are renewable energy options – wind turbine or Solar PV. Lots of big organisations include staff who may not have a sophisticated grasp of energy usage – they may have reached that role from another business area – so this simple tool can have real benefit. And we have a new version of this tool and that will help you look at the new incentives to save energy.

We also have elevated imaging – a 20 foot high mast that lets you see rooftops – helps you find fault in roof that appears sound but has losses and hidden moisture/damage.

We are doing 30,000 houses in the next few weeks at the moment but we do lots of different projects. The benefit of our work is that making energy visible has huge impact – showing numbers has a far lesser impact. People see issues in their homes and businesses that has huge value.

Looking at an image of the new Scottish parliament just after it was built you see red areas that are actually fine – this is a different material rather than a large loss. But you can see areas of moisture behind panels which show up as they radiate energy differently.

More information on the website: http://irtenvision.com


Emissions assessment tool for spatial planning Simon Bonsall, Scottish Government Directorate for the Built Environment

We are not quite as advanced as I’d hoped we would be in this project so I’m afraid we have fewer pretty pictures than hoped.

I am a town planner so a bit of background of where we are coming from here. It is a legislative requirement – there is a National Planning Framework, Strategic Development Plans (by Region), Local Development Plans (everywhere) and ingrained throughout those levels we have Strategic Environmental Assessment that requires developments to consider and address environmental impact.We have been looking at the carbon impact of the National Planning Framework. There are also questions around the level of data available on emissions. So we established a partnership between the Scottish Government, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, a Consortium of Savills, AEA and MVA Consultancy – to give oversight of work along with…, a focused steering group for the work.

The task is to create something simple and robust system for quantifying GHG (Green House Gas) impacts of policy and development through spatial analysis. We looked for an existent methodology for this type of spatial analysis, or a model that could be tweaked to be suitable. We published a feasibility study here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2011/02/09142227/0

We found that there were models but it would be more efficient to develop a custom model as changing an existing model would add in lots of unknowns – many models have “black boxes” and making changes effects reliability and trustworthiness of that model.

So we have built a model that looks at four building types: housing, commercial, other buildings, other emissions. And we consider emissions: heating/hot water, lighting/electricity, transport, waste, water, etc (in use not embedded in all cases).

So transport for instance – there is a real mix of high and low car dependent locations. Where you live will make a big difference.

The result is Excel-based. It is in every local authority and planning managers are comfortable with that format. There are also default values to help get users started. We have a user interface not entirely unlike IRT’s dashboard. And  that User Interface is connected to your Excel spreadsheet. And you can use that model to compare impact of policies you are considering/implementing.

So a planning official can plug in various policy scenarios to create reasonable alternatives and use the model to see the impact. You don’t have to pick the lowest emission policy but you need to justify why you have chosen to implement a policy with higher emissions.

On a local level planning can be quite detailed with this model. It is consistent but less detailed and more assumptions must be made at a national level. The model is customised and not fully tested but offers some really helpful opportunities for understanding and achieving sustainability objectives.


Q1) Have you tested this with a committee, local authority, … ?

A1) We had engineers to construct a pilot around it and we hoped to pilot it with planning officers. But we instead tested it with people who worked for the consortium partners but had not been involved in the project before. We found that it was usable and worked. As planning authorities start using it we’ll see it tested in a more local forum.

Q2) Any plan to roll out beyond Scotland?

A2) It should be generic but the data behind it is focused on Scotland – transport, building standards, health etc. But the principle could be applied with different reference data sets. But we’ll see how it’s taken up – if it’s useful and we are happy to release the model then it should be available to use beyond Scotland. Hopefully we’ll do the first release before Christmas and then we’ll see what happens.

And with that final talk we are finishing up here.  James Reid of EDINA thanks all of our speakers and participants for coming along and we are now just finishing up with lots of interesting conversations…

You can read more about the event and the Spatio Temporal Energy Efficiency Visualisations (STEEV) project on the STEEV Project blog (http://steev.blogs.edina.ac.uk/).

If you have any questions or comments about this event please do comment below or email the STEEV Project Manager Stuart Macdonald: stuart.macdonald@ed.ac.uk.

 October 13, 2011  Posted by at 10:02 am Events Tagged with: , , , ,  1 Response »
Sep 292011

We have four fantastic – and free! – events coming up in the next couple of months – we’ll be telling you more about these in individual posts but we wanted to let you put these in your diary, book your place, and get involved!

First up is the INSPIRE for Social Sciences workshop at the UK Data Archive on Friday 7th October 2011 in Essex led by the U.Geo project, which has been looking at the geospatial potential of UKDA survey data.  The workshop focuses on what the European INSPIRE directive, particularly Annex III (which addresses spatial data sets),  means for social science research, funders and for the national data strategy. This will be a real opportunity to learn about the practical requirements and opportunities for research and collaboration associated with INSPIRE and highlights will include contributions from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Swedish National Data Service, Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research and from GECO’s very own James Reid.

You can see the full programme on the UKDA website and the booking form is here.  If you want to find out a bit more about INSPIRE in general the EDINA’s The INSPIRE Directive – A Brief Overview [pdf] is a good place to start and there is a huge amount of information on the official INSPIRE Directive website.

Image of a Chimney Stack

"Chimney Stack" by Flickr user gerry.scappaticci

Next up, on Thursday 13th October 2011, will be the Green Energy Tech Event (#e3vis), arranged by the STEEV project, which will take place at the very new Edinburgh Centre on Climate Change. The event focuses on tools, techniques and current research in the area of green energy technology, carbon emissions and the built environment. It promises to be a fascinating event with highlights including talks on modelling and mapping energy efficiency data, modelling energy use data for social housing landlords, heat mapping technologies and usage, emissions assessment tools, and listed buildings and energy efficiency.

View the full programme and book your place here and find out more about the Spatio Temporal Energy Efficiency Visualisation tool being created by the project in this contextual post by researcher Simon Lannon,  of the Welsh School of Architecture.

Image of DaffodilsOur next event, just being finalised, is a joint NatureLocator & IGIBS Event ( final title TBC but the hashtag will be #gecoenv) will take place on Friday 11th November 2011 at the Welsh Assembly Government buildings in Cardiff. The event will be focusing on the use and sharing of environmental data, particularly INSPIRE compliant data, and will be of particular relevance for Welsh environment researchers, policy makers, and those in the Welsh Geospatial Information (GI) community. The programme and event booking form will be live shortly (we’ll keep you posted) but email edina@ed.ac.uk if you would like to register your interest or book your place right away.

Finally JISC have just announced the date for the JISC Geospatial Product Show & Tell which will take place on Monday 28th November 2011 in London at Ravensborough College in London (next to the Millennium Dome). Anyone with an @ed.ac.uk email address is welcome along (and of course any JISC Geo project partners who may have an unexpected email address!). A full announcement will follow but bookings are already open here.

We hope you can join us for all/some/one of these events but we will be blogging and tweeting at all of them so if you are not able to make it along in person do keep an eye on this website for live notes, write-ups, slides etc.

As you can see the JISC Geo projects are all starting to roll out fantastic tools, data and findings hence the large number of events this autumn however we will be running further events (currently in the planning stages) to showcase other areas of geo work later this year and/or in early 2012 so do look out for announcements about those as they’re finalised.

 September 29, 2011  Posted by at 11:00 am Events, Misc. Tagged with: , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Events Coming Up – INSPIRE, the Welsh Environment, Green Energy Tech and the JISC Geospatial Product Show & Tell!
Apr 162011

This week the last of the 15/10 geo projects officially kicked off which means that, like last week’s Grand National we now have an awful lots of exciting runners and riders (though unlike the Grand National we expect all of them to look even more fantastic at the end of their projects than they do now!).

Image of daffodils

IGIBS is the acronym for the Interoperable Geographic Information for Biosphere Study. The project is looking at ways in which research data collected in and/or about the Dyfi Biosphere can be shared and made available to others through WMS – Web Mapping Services. The idea is that a researcher with data that she wants to share or compare to others’ work would be able to upload their data and create their own WMS specifically for their data.

The Dyfi Biosphere is a really interesting location for collecting use cases as there are researchers from multiple different disciplines and backgrounds working in the area at any time. They might be looking at water quality or at economic measures or at the uptake of the Welsh language.  All of these researchers produce geographical information but it may not be interoperable or easily found or compared with others’ work.

Of course it is not just in Wales that data and data with a geographic component is becoming a big issue. At a ScraperWiki Hacks & Hackers Hackday I attended recently it was clear that the types of social and political data that is of interest to journalists has a subtle but important element of geography. Statistics on measures of deprivation are all the more informative when viewed on a map with other features in a landscape. Road accident statistics will vary significantly with the features of the landscape but comparing those statistics to other data (e.g. locations of pubs, pothole repair work budget by local authority) may provide – as it is hoped with many of the 15/10 projects even more interesting opportunities to analyze and interpret data.

Viewing data on a map also makes it somehow more personal as we are to always starting our experience of maps with out own area of the world and drilling down or looking out from there. Ask anyone to play with online mapping tools and, after a pause, their first move will be to look up their own address. Indeed Arcade Fire’s now very well known The Wilderness Downtown (an interactive video using Google Maps, video, animation and HTML5 magic to create personalized films) played entirely upon the strength of our psychological ties to our place on the map. Unsurprising then that it can be much easier to grasp data when we can relate data on our own area with data from other surrounding or more distant areas whether that is about using expert data – as in IGIBS or STEEV – or whether that is about beginning to add our own data about our surroundings as in NatureLocator.

And on that slightly random note I shall hand the blog back to James as I shall be engaging in my own geographical experiments  by exploring Arran for my first ever trip there, map quite firmly in hand.

 April 16, 2011  Posted by at 8:00 am Misc. Tagged with: , , , ,  Comments Off on IGIBS Project Kicks Off