Research and expertise

I am currently researching ways to improve thermal comfort, indoor air quality, and health in buildings.

My work centres on the measurement and modelling of extreme heat in informal settlements in the tropics, and indoor air quality in tropical hospitals and large mass-gathering event venues in the UK.
 
 
I run experiments in test houses in the UK and Ghana, manage large international field trials, and co-ordinate dynamic thermal model validation exercises. Alongside my work on thermal comfort and indoor air quality, I recently completed the first evaluation of SMETER technologies (here).
 
My expertise lies in the field of building science, specifically building performance measurement and modelling. I am experienced in building measurement: co-heating, fan pressurisation, tracer gas, IR thermography, thermal comfort, synthetic occupancy; and building modelling: dynamic thermal simulation and validation.
 
During my PhD I characterised and synthetically-occupied a matched pair of test houses to compare thermal comfort and ventilation rates for different occupant behaviours to prevent overheating in homes. Data gathered in the side-by-side tests was used to identify effective overheating interventions and further used in a collaborative model validation study involving four industry modellers. I was awarded the CIBSE Carter Bronze Medal 2020 for the work.
 

Current research activity 

  • Reducing the Impact of Extreme Heat to Improve Wellbeing in Cities (REFIT), British Academy (2020-2022), Research Associate.
  • Airborne Infection Reduction through Building Operation and Design for SARS-CoV-2 (AIRBODS), EPSRC (2021-2022), Research Associate.
  • Improving the Predictions of Overheating (IMPROVE), Tyrens (2021-2023), Principal Investigator.
  • Doctoral Prize Fellowship, EPSRC (2022-2024), Principal Investigator.

Recently completed research projects 

  • Technical Evaluation of SMETER Technologies (TEST), BEIS (2019-2022), Research Associate.

Recent publications

  • Malki-Epshtein, L, Adzic, F, Roberts, BM, Hathway, EA, Iddon, C, Mustafa, M, Cook, M (in press) Measurement and rapid assessment of indoor air quality at mass gathering events to assess ventilation performance and reduce aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2, Building Services Engineering Research and Technology, ISSN: 0143-6244.
  • Roberts, BM, Kasei, R, Codjoe, SNA, Amankwaa, EF, Gough, KV, Abdullah, K, Mensah, P, Lomas, K (2022) Comparing indoor air quality in naturally ventilated and air-conditioned hospitals in the tropics. In 42nd AIVC-10th TightVent & 8th Venticool Conference, 2022, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • Adzic, F, Roberts, BM, Hathway, EA, Matharu, RK, Ciric, L, Wild, O, Cook, M, Malki-Epshtein, L (2022) A post-occupancy study of ventilation effectiveness from high-resolution CO2 monitoring at live theatre events to mitigate airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, Building and Environment, 223(2022), 109392, ISSN: 0360-1323. DOI: 10.1016/j.buildenv.2022.109392.
  • Roberts, BM, Abel, B, Allinson, D, Crowley, J, Rashid, T, Salehi, B, Lomas, K (2022) A dataset from synthetically occupied test houses for validating model predictions of overheating. In CIBSE Technical Symposium 2022, London, UK.
  • Allinson, D, Roberts, B, Lomas, K, et al. (2022) Technical evaluation of SMETER technologies (TEST) project, pp.1-183, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. https://hdl.handle.net/2134/19169027.
  • Roberts, BM, Allinson, D, Lomas, K (2021) Evaluating methods for estimating whole house air infiltration rates in summer: implications for overheating and indoor air quality, International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation, ISSN: 2398-4708. DOI: 10.1108/IJBPA-06-2021-0085.
  • Roberts, B.M., Allinson, D., Diamond, S., Abel, B., Das Bhaumik, C., Khatami, N., Lomas, K.J. (2019) Predictions of summertime overheating: comparison of dynamic thermal models and measurements in synthetically occupied test houses, Building Services Engineering Research and Technology, 40(4), ISSN: 0143-6244. DOI: 10.1177/0143624419847349.

Teaching

I was granted Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy in 2018. I currently supervise two PhD students alongside undergraduate student dissertations and teach overheating, ventilation, and indoor air quality on the second year Building Science module.

Undergraduate

  • Final year project supervisor (2020-present).

Postgraduate

  • CVB117: Building Science.

Enterprise

Current projects 

  • Improving the Predictions of Overheating (IMPROVE), Tyrens (2021-2023), Principal Investigator.

Recently completed projects

  • Technical Evaluation of SMETER Technologies (TEST), BEIS (2019-2022).

Profile

An MSc in Energy Policy at the University of Exeter first got me thinking seriously about energy use in buildings. My research into consumer acceptance of a short-lived retrofit policy, the Green Deal, helped me understand the human side of the problems we face in reducing energy use in homes.

A knowledge transfer partnership position followed at the Global Sustainability Institute (Anglia Ruskin University) where I evaluated effective marketing strategies for new Green Deal customers in a project funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (as it then was). The industry host for my KTP was an insulation and heating engineering company. I learned how businesses are run, how they are affected by government policy and the way they interact with academic research.

I then joined Loughborough University to pursue a PhD in the London-Loughborough Centre for Doctoral Training in Energy Demand. I completed an MRes degree as a prerequisite to the PhD measuring the energy-saving potential of zonal heating controls.

Mitigation of summertime overheating in existing UK homes, without using air-conditioning, was my PhD research area. The intention of my PhD was to provide recommendations to occupants for maintaining safe, healthy, and comfortable environments in homes during heatwaves and to create a resource of data using CIBSE TM59 window opening schedules and gain profiles to validate models.

I am currently an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellow and since 2019 have been a Research Associate working on a range of projects.

Professional Affiliations

  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)

Awards

  • The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) Carter Bronze Medal 2020 for the highest-rated paper related to research application
  • ABCE 2019 Research Staff Excellence for Outstanding Research
  • ABCE 2022 Research Staff Excellence for Outstanding Research

External Activities

  • Reviewer - International Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation (2020-present)
  • Reviewer - Building Simulation and Optimisation Conference (2020-present)
  • Reviewer - The Journal of Engineering Research (2021-present)

Key Collaborators

My research and enterprise activities are conducted with a range of academic and stakeholder partners, including:

  • University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
  • University for Development Studies, Tamale, Ghana
  • Hilson Moran Partnership Ltd., UK
  • Inkling LLP, UK
  • UCL, UK
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Sheffield
  • Halton Housing, UK
  • Leeds Sustainability Institute, Leeds Beckett University, UK