Personal profile

Overview

As Professor of Advanced Building Design at the School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire, I conduct interdisciplinary research and lead Zero Carbon Lab

In 2021 I took the role of Director of Centre for Future Societies Research at the University. This interdisciplinary Research Centre facilitates investigations into complex ways of making our future world a better place. The Centre membership consists of over 100 Active Members and Associate Members, working on a portfolio of impact-driven research projects and engagement with policy makers. The Centre has strong links with the University’s membership of the Doctoral Training Alliance, and has been awarding fully funded PhD Studentships in Future Societies since 2021.

I have worked as an academic, researcher and practitioner on instrumental monitoring, dynamic simulation and environmental design of buildings over a career spanning three decades. My work includes the creation of machine learning models for prediction of building performance, a patent for an expandable and contractible building, research into nature's zero carbon designs and research into zero carbon retrofit of buildings.

My book 'Designing Zero Carbon Buildings Using Dynamic Simulation Methods' has been adopted as core text at several UK, US and European universities and has been used as a handbook by major international consultancies, with a second edition published in June 2017 and a third edition in preparation.

My work with industry included delivering numerous solutions, including improving thermal comfort in buildings and resolving simulation performance gap occurring in buildings built from hemp-lime bio-composite materials. My work on designing thermal performance of two commercial buildings built from that material in the United Kingdom: Ellipta Compliance Building for GlaxoSmithKline and Hemcrete Museum Store for British Science Museum, led to construction of buildings with negative embodied carbon emissions, and with overall zero carbon performance whilst achieving significant capital savings.

Part of my research was based on the work done to evaluate the Birmingham Zero Carbon House, a ground-breaking carbon-neutral building based on a 170-year-old redbrick Victorian house. This research showed how best to convert existing buildings into zero carbon homes of the future. It demonstrated how home owners could eliminate energy bills and fuel poverty, and potentially achieve a significant return on investment.

My involvement with ASHRAE UK London and South East Chapter, one of over 200 worldwide ASHRAE Chapters, is as a member of the Board of Governors, where I was 2019-2021 Chapter President. ASHRAE is a professional society of engineers with 57,000 members across 132 nations, dedicated to advancing environmental design of buildings and promoting a sustainable world. 

I hold an MSc from the University of Belgrade and a PhD from the University of Birmingham, both in Mechanical Engineering. I am a Chartered Engineer, a Member of CIBSE, a Member of ASHRAE, a Fellow of the Institution of Analysts and Programmers, and a Fellow of the International Building Performance Simulation Association.

As Guest Editor of Special Issues published by Frontiers in Built Environment and Sustainability I facilitated publications of articles that seek to improve the quality of our environment and of our future, and have taken a role a Member of Editorial Board of Sustainability that enables me to extend this work.

My portfolio of research grant funding has exceeded a total of £10 million, including a recently completed Design Exchange Partnership on Accelerating Net-Zero Housing at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, funded by the UK AHRC.

Research interests

My research is focused in two interconnected areas: zero carbon design research which combines computer simulation, multi-objective optimisation and post occupancy monitoring, and Complexity Science based design research which includes Emergence-based design using nature-inspired computation.

The inspiration for zero carbon research came from my involvement in the Birmingham Zero Carbon House. Originally built 175 years ago, it achieved zero carbon status through retrofit and won the RIBA award for architecture in 2010. I established collaboration with the owner Architect John Christophers in 2011, and secured funding to pay for the instrumentation system to monitor the house. When the system was installed and data started flowing, it enabled detailed evaluation of the building performance. This led to experimental research, combining building simulation with data from monitoring, looking into alternative solutions for zero carbon design, and testing the resilience of these designs in the context of climate change. I have been using the monitoring results as experimental evidence base, together with my PhD students, and we have produced numerous papers on various aspects of zero carbon design and retrofit.

I have worked extensively on retrofit, and led a project called RetrofitPlus, funded by Innovate UK. We converted two houses built from concrete Wimpey no-fines construction into Passivhaus standard houses. The work involved development and calibration of simulation models, and design simulations using multi-objective optimisation. The optimum design was passed onto the industrial partner Beattie Passive, to develop off-site insulation panels, and completely surround the buildings with their TCosy insulation approach.

One of the aspects of my research is the work to automate zero carbon design. An office building located near Portsmouth was used as the basis for analysis. Instead of looking at a handful of possible solutions, potentially resulting in a sub optimum, this process defines the solution space of over 900 million possibilities, and uses a genetic algorithm to find a range of optimum solutions. These optimum solutions are shown on a Pareto front, and comprise a set of results that are considered for the final design.

I have also worked on design of buildings made from hemp-lime bio-composite materials. These photosynthetic materials are very hard to represent in design simulations, resulting in expensive overdesign. I have developed a method for accurate modelling of these materials, resulting in typically 65% reduction in capital costs. The two buildings I was involved on as a member of the design team, GlaxoSmithKline Elipta Building in Ware and Hemcrete Museum Store for Science Museum in Wroughton, have now been in operation for several years and their performance is consistent with my deign simulations.

My computer science research familiarised me with swarm behaviour modelling, which I applied to modelling of structures, such as bridges and domes. That led to a 4-year EPSRC project to increase the understanding of dynamics of structures. This method would have avoided the lateral wobble developed by the Millennium Bridge in London, which was designed using conventional methods.

I applied similar principles arising from Complexity Science research to urban modelling and designing resilient cities. This work led to an EU grant and an EPSRC grant, and resulted in increased understanding of behaviour of cities and the key issues for resilience design.

Continuing the complexity theme, I looked into how building forms can be designed from the bottom up, using attractors. This led to the creation of courtyard and gherkin shapes in Java 3D and to experimentation with gravitational attractors in the Unity games engine.

Working with students of architecture and with colleagues, I became aware that the preparation of design simulation models is a technical and time barrier for architects, and that performance of such designs is compromised as result. I therefore used similar principles as from the modelling of cites, to develop sketches that become 'alive'. This enables interactive drawing and simulation of air flow in a building.

I have been involved as a Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator in externally funded projects worth over £10 million, funded by the EPSRC, ARTEMIS, EU, EUREKA, KTP, Innovate UK, AHRC and Research England.

Education/Academic qualification

Mechanical Engineering, PhD, Solar Energy Monitoring, Control and Analysis In Buildings, The University of Birmingham

19841988

Award Date: 16 Dec 1988

Mechanical Engineering, Dipl. Ing. (now MSc), Energy in buildings, University of Belgrade

19751981

Award Date: 22 Apr 1981

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