Students and academics from The School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) presented their work among international speakers at a recent conference held here in Edinburgh. The Passive and Low Energy Architecture (PLEA) network has maintained a global discussion around sustainable architecture and design through its conferences since 1982.

The 33rd international conference, PLEA2017, was hosted in July at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms. The conference attracted 650 delegates from around the world, presenting research on reducing energy and carbon emissions through buildings.

Dr Kate Carter, Dr Ola Uduku and Dr Suzanne Ewing, and PhD Students Jill Zhao, Gillian Treacy, Pablo Moreno and Yiqiang Zhao presented ongoing research from ESALA. Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) were in good company, with all other architecture schools in Scotland also attending. Fiona Hyslop MSP (Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs) and Edinburgh’s Lord Provost both spoke at the opening, reinforcing the importance of architecture and low carbon buildings to Scotland.

Dr Kate Carter presented work on the Energy Living Lab, a project addressing how the City Council can tackle energy reduction in its buildings and Suzanne Ewing, Head of ESALA, chaired a session on Place Making and Well-Being.

Four PhD Students also presented papers at the conference. Jill Zhao, who is supervised by Kate Carter, presented on the Architectural Typology of Passivhaus. Pablo Moreno (supervised by John Brennan) presented on the Comparison of Low Carbon Japanese and British Off-Site Housing. Gillian Treacy (supervised by Ola Uduku) presented on Sustainable Lighting Design and Yiqiang Zhao (also supervised by Ola Uduku) presented on the EdenApp - a mobile app for measuring personal thermal comfort. The diversity of research presented by ECA staff and students reflects the broad range of interests held within the school.

Architecture research planning
Image courtesy of Pablo Moreno
Research for Pablo's work on Low Carbon Japanese and British Off-Site Housing

“We were around 700 delegates, all of them with specific and interesting studies. I felt integrated into a community."

Pablo Moreno, Architecture - PhD student

"I presented my research that considers the disjunction of architectural design and daylighting in both design education and architectural practice," said Gillian Treacy, a Design - PhD student, "The research considers tools and methods to reduce this gap and promote a better understanding of daylighting design within general architectural practice."

"The conference was beneficial as it provided a platform to highlight the relevance of my research within the sustainable design community and review the areas within which other design educators are conducting their research," said Gillian, "Peer review is an important part of all research to ensure significance and relevance and contacts within my area of research are invaluable."

“Compared with conventional field studies which often include time-consuming questionnaires and costly sensors, EdenApp could help researchers quickly conduct digital questionnaire and environmental measurement with low cost Bluetooth Low energy (BLE) sensors," said Yiqiang Zhao, "It’s easy, fast and accurate. The collected data will be automatically uploaded to our cloud server and available for users to download.”

“For this conference, I was both a presenter and volunteer. As a presenter, I shared my projects and ideas to many audiences and researchers," Yiqiang said, "They gave so much useful feedback, with some people even expressing interest to cooperate with us. [Conferences are] not only a way to share your ideas and get feedback for your project, but also a good opportunity to see how others solve the same problem in different ways. At the same time, you improve your presentation skills, social skills and confidence!”

Research for EdenApp
Image courtesy of Yiqiang Zhao
EdenApp is a mobile app for measuring personal thermal comfort
Research for EdenApp
Image courtesy of Yiqiang Zhao

Pablo Moreno presented a comparative study on how Mass Customisation processes have been utilised to deliver sustainable housing in Japan and the UK.

“The objective was to highlight the differences and similarities of both practices and to identify the barriers that the introduction of mass customisation could have into housing in the UK; to achieve higher energy efficiency and to promote the use of renewables," Pablo said, "We were around 700 delegates, all of them with specific and interesting studies. I felt integrated into a community, where plenty of us were settled here in Edinburgh and inside the University.”

“It is a good opportunity to expose yourself to the "world". Sometimes, we (students) get so immersed in our research that we forget to link and compare our studies with others," he said, "And probably even more importantly, to bring others ideas into our personal practice.”


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