Research by The Open University's Design Group is developing a range of low-energy, low-carbon systems for domestic and transport use.
Key aspects of this research
- Contributed to Government’s low carbon energy policies
- Influenced the sustainability practices of public and private sector organisations
- Informed user-centred design of domestic heating systems
- Led to innovative transport designs for smarter cities
It has examined consumer adoption and use of low carbon technologies, including photovoltaic, solar thermal, heat pump and biomass heating systems. The need for sustainable buildings and transport systems is widely acknowledged. As the effects of climate change are felt, the need to design more innovative solutions is intensifying.The Open University’s Design Group is influencing the development of sustainable energy systems through a range of activities.
It has also examined the effect of control design and heating behaviours on heat pump efficiency e.g. poor understanding of controls, and ‘comfort-taking’.
Design and policy changes
And it has identified design and policy changes that could improve take-up and efficient use of these low carbon products and systems e.g. more user-centred controls and independent information on the suitability, performance and use of equipment.
Its 10-year research programme on low carbon domestic energy systems, led by Professor Robin Roy and Dr Sally Caird included a partnership with the Energy Saving Trust and effective public and private collaborations.
It also led to an invitation to provide evidence to the 2007 Parliamentary Committee Enquiry on Climate Change and informed the Government’s 2013 The Future of Heating policy document.
Innovation in Milton Keynes
The OU's Design Group is also contributing to sustainability in transport systems. It has examined the role of institutions and financial models in shaping adoption and use of innovative transport technologies and systems. And it is exploring user engagement with smart grid technologies and the design of new public transport systems.
OU research into sustainable transport systems, led by Professor Stephen Potter, resulted in his participation at UK HM Treasury Revenue and Customs briefings and his appointment as Transport Commissioner for the Green Fiscal Commission (2007–09).
OU research into sustainable energy and transport is now influencing the development of innovative transport designs for the development of Milton Keynes as a smart city, as part of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funded MK:Smart project.
- Caird, Sally; Roy, Robin and Herring, Horace (2008). Improving the energy performance of UK households: Results from surveys of consumer adoption and use of low- and zero carbon technologies. Energy Efficiency, 1(2) pp. 149–166
- YIMBY Generation – yes in my back yard! UK householders pioneering microgeneration heat
- Caird, Sally; Roy, Robin and Potter, Stephen (2010). Heat pump user experiences, behaviour and satisfaction. The Open University Design Innovation Group, Milton Keynes UK.
- Caird, Sally and Roy, Robin (2010). Adoption and use of household microgeneration heat technologies. Low Carbon Economy, 1(2) pp. 61–70
- Roy, Robin and Caird, Sally (2007). Climate Change: the citizen's agenda Evidence to Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee. The Stationery Office, London, UK.
- Potter, Stephen and Atchulo, Abukari (2013). A review of ten years of CO2-based company car taxation: impact and potential. In: Universities Transport Studies Group Annual Conference, 3-5 January 2013, Oxford
- Potter, Stephen (2012). Transport interchanges and the integration design challenge. In: Tovey, Michael ed. Design for Transport: A User-Centered Approach to Vehicle Design and Travel. Design for Social Responsibility. Farnham, UK: Gower, pp. 121–136
- Caird, Sally and Roy, Robin (2008). User-centred improvements to energy efficiency products and renewable energy systems: research on household adoption and use. International Journal of Innovation Management, 12(3) pp. 327–355.
- Caird, Sally; Roy, Robin and Potter, Stephen (2012). Domestic heat pumps in the UK: user behaviour, satisfaction and performance. Energy Efficiency, 5(3) pp. 283–301.
- Thomas, Christine (2001). Public understanding and its effect on recycling performance in Hampshire and Milton Keynes. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 32(3-4) pp. 259–274
- Slater, Rachel; Frederickson, James and Yoxon, Mark (2010). Unlocking the potential of community composting: Full project report. Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, London, UK
- Lane, Ben and Potter, Stephen (2006). The adoption of cleaner vehicles in the UK: exploring the consumer attitude–action gap. Journal of Cleaner Production, 15(11-12) pp. 1085–1092
- Potter, Stephen; Parkhurst, Graham and Lane, Ben (2005). European perspectives on a new fiscal framework for transport. In: Reggiani, Aura and Schintler, Laurie A. eds. Methods and models in transport and telecommunications: Cross-Atlantic perspectives.