Programme: Architecture - PhD/MPhil/MSc by Research

Start date: January 2013

Mode of study: Full time

Research title: A Grounded Approach to OEB in Passivhaus

Jill is a current PhD candidate in Architecture, her strong interest in environmental issue has led her research into the field of architectural sustainability. Her current research is on Passivhaus and its interaction with/between construction sectors and occupants.

Jill achieved her BArch degree with 1st place scholarship in Chang An University in China, during which she interned in SMC Alsop Beijing office for 4 months as architectural assistant. She then applied for an architecture master’s programme in University of Edinburgh in 2009, and graduated as MSc a year later with a distinction on her thesis ‘Macro and micro metabolism in architecture – Case study of Xi’an Downtown’. The studies she undertook through the period built up her interest in the field of low-energy housing. Jill has afterwards worked with Andrew Stoane Architects for a few months and GRID Architects in London for two years as architectural assistant before she returned to Scotland in 2013, and continued her study as a PhD candidate in University of Edinburgh.

Jill has a strong collective knowledge and skill in both architectural research and professional practice. She has worked on many international projects and competitions. These include luxury residential housing 190 Strand and its R&D Suite in London (2011-2012 with GRID Architects, on site); Residential project Shell Centre Redevelopment in London (2012 with GRID Architects, design stage); Residential and commercial complex Raffles City Beijing and its R&D Suite in Beijing (2008 with SMC Alsop Beijing, completed); Luxury residential and commercial development Zhabei 313 Plot in Shanghai(2008 with SMC Alsop Beijing); Songzhuang African Museum Mixed Development in Beijing (2009 with DnA Architects); International Competition Brussels Courthouse: Imaging the Future in Edinburgh (2010 with Andrew Stoane Architects); International competition Belgrade Renovation Project in Edinburgh (2013 with Andrew Stoane Architects).



Passivhaus is a building methodology established in the 1990s in sustainable construction industry. It uses passive design strategy to achieve built environmental comfort with minimum energy consumption. However research shows that not every Passivhaus project has been satisfying in terms of comfort and energy performance. Despite the technological advances in Passivhaus, previous research suggests that social reasons, such as occupant energy behaviour (OEB) plays a very important role in determining energy use and is the main reason why buildings aren’t performing to prediction. OEB research done in Passivhaus assumes the fundamental issues to be the same as in standard buildings, and focuses more on design of technological controls. My research will argue that Passivhaus as new building typology is built upon a new idea of comfort, where expectations, backgrounds, attitudes of occupants are expected to change. Therefore whether the same factors still take part in the shaping of Passivhaus OEB is in question. With more and more Passivhaus planned to be constructed over the next few decades, to addressing occupant energy behaviour is essential. The aim of this research thus is to examine OEB in Passivhaus for better energy outcomes.

Previous research into OEB field adopts predominantly quantitative method, it is appropriate to make sense of monitored energy usage and to draw statistical conclusion. However, the small amount of research using a qualitative approach shows potential benefits in gaining a better understanding of sustainability in people’s everyday practice and the nature of their energy use. The methodological approach for the proposed research will be qualitative in nature due to the need for understanding highly context-bonded energy behaviour. A mixed approach of quantitative and qualitative methods will also be explored to collect and analyse data from various aspects related to the subject matter, in order to draw valid conclusions.