Our Director

Dr Stephen Finnegan BSc, MRes, PhD, CEnv, CSci, CMILT, PGCertHE, MIHT, MIEnvSci, AMIHIE

Dr Stephen Finnegan acts as the Director of the ZCRI and investigates the whole life sustainability and financial implications of creating individual projects, buildings, events, masterplans and cities. He has 25 years+ experience in sustainability in construction and operation, having previously worked for KPMG LLP, AEA Technology, Arup and the European Commission. Stephen has a number of academic publications relating to sustainable design, embodied carbon impact, life cycle planning and operation and has presented his research work in the US, India and across Europe at various international conferences and events. Stephen is currently supervising a number of PhD students and has recently published a Taylor and Francis book entitled "New Financial Strategies for Sustainable Buildings"

PhD Students

Tom Johnston BEng

Creating a Net Zero Carbon (NZC) development at zero cost - a case study for Knowsley Safari

Tom's research looks into the impact of operational carbon emissions in the business sector, and the growing field of net zero carbon (NZC) strategies. His research takes a holistic approach to carbon reduction, encompassing the metrics of energy, carbon, and cost to provide a more realistic approach to carbon abatement and mitigation. In particular, Tom's research focuses on the theory behind how to adapt to a rapidly changing low-carbon world and incorporates climate science, climate policy, strategic management, operational energy use, carbon accounting and reporting, energy conservation measures, and green financing methods. According to the UK Governments Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) account for over 99% of all businesses in the UK, contributing to a significant portion of the UK economy, however, despite this, there are a distinct lack of methodologies available that specifically outline a clear, holistic framework for SMEs to become NZC. Through a comprehensive understanding of the theory behind climate change, Tom has developed a novel, holistic set of carbon abatement and mitigation instruments aimed at addressing the key issues that are currently faced by UK SMEs. Throughout his PhD, Tom has been working with collaborating business partner, Knowsley Safari, to gain a thorough understanding of the typical operational requirements of a UK-based SME, whilst also providing an ideal testbed for the development of novel instruments. The scope of the developed instruments was narrowed to specifically apply to zoological gardens, nature reserves, and amusement parks, with a future goal of expanding the scope for a more generalised methodology, thus enabling application to a greater number of businesses.

Iona Campbell BA, MEng, MPhil(Cantab), ARB, CEPH Passivhaus Designer

Automated Design and Prefabricated Manufacture of Cost-Effective Zero Energy Developments – A framework & model for Urban Splash & the UK

The aim of the research is to produce a new Framework and Model for zero energy housing developments. Once complete, it is feasible that this new Framework and Model could direct decision making on future developments for both Urban Splash, and the wider construction industry, as well as policy makers and advisors. The research builds upon the existing low energy construction methods displayed within Urban Splash's ‘Town House' Prefabricated Housing System. In-depth analysis of the modelled vs real energy use of this system is being carried out, with the intention of showing the extent to which existing low energy construction methods are preforming. Analysis goes on to determine methods for achieving zero energy, and which aspects of construction are the most effective in achieving this goal. Amalgamating established methods that could already be considered to be a ‘framework’ or ‘model’, such as Passivhaus and UK Building Regulations, the aim is for accuracy, simplicity & usability, coupled with centralisation of testing, design standards, and validation. The resulting Framework and Model must be accessible to the whole construction team, in terms of cost, efficiency, and usability.

Rowena Creagh BA, MA, AffIHBC, CIfA

The embodied carbon impact of heritage buildings

Embodied carbon is simply the carbon footprint of a material over its lifetime use. It considers how greenhouse gases (GHGs) are released throughout the supply chain. For modern construction materials such as steel or concrete, it is reasonably simple to undertake an embodied carbon assessment. However, heritage buildings built many decades or centuries ago, where built of materials with very different supply chains exhibiting potentially larger carbon footprints.  This PhD will be focused on developing a new set of data and emissions factors for heritage buildings built within the last 100 years in the UK. In order for this project to succeed the researcher will need to develop a unique set of data that can be easy explained and simplified.  This data can then be used by architects to assist in considering the whole life carbon impact of re-use, recycling, demolition and refurbishment of heritage building for modern day use.  Knowledge and use of LCA tools such as GaBi, SimaPro or OneClickLCA are desirable. 

Roberto Cruz BArch, MSc

Alternative construction materials for dwellings in Puebla (Mexico): Reducing embodied emissions while adapting to climate change.

The aim of Roberto’s research is to produce a new framework and model for adobe (mud bricks) construction as a way to reduce dwellings’ embodied emissions, while passively improving temperature performance. With over 2 million inhabitants and the highest annual population growth, the city of Puebla is the fourth largest metropolitan area in Mexico. This research further aims to comprehensively analyse the embodied emissions of conventional construction materials used in the area and compare them to an adobe house-case study. We are also looking at how urbanization is affecting the heat island effect in the city and how climate change is expected to modify weather patterns. Climate change shows a tendency to increase temperatures in the area, which together with poor construction planning could increase the need for cooling in the city, adding to Mexico’s already stressed fossil fuel-driven energy sector. By investigating alternative construction practices, this research’s end goal is to reduce pollutant emissions form the urbanization of the space and provide passive solutions in the face of climate change in the area.

Bushra Al Derbi BArch, MArch

Creating a Net Zero Carbon (NZC) Structurally Insulated Panel (SIPs) home - A Whole Life Carbon (WLC) assessment

Bushra's research focuses on analysing the optimum solutions to reduce the CO2 emission in the UK housing industry. The EPBD (Energy Performance of Building Directive) have stated that all buildings old and new in Europe should be nearly zero energy building (nZEB), which means an overall assessment on new buildings should be consider in terms of building fabric and energy use. As a result (EPBD) policy requires all new building to be nearly Zero Energy Building (nZEB) by 2021. During the past 24 months, she has been studying and monitoring the energy and carbon performances of a SIPs house in the Wirral UK. This study will become increasingly crucial as the UK aims to find solution to reduce the overall carbon footprint in the construction industry. While most of the studies have focused on clean energy to reduce the impact of carbon to meet the nZEB, non-have attempted a holistic approach to include a whole life carbon impact of the new method of construction of magnesium oxide SIPs. Click on this storyboard to find out more.

Alexandros Kallegias DipArch, MArch, RIBA, TEE-TCG(Gr)

Digital simulation to enhance early stage low carbon design

In the age of information, the AEC sector is able to take advantage of the current advances of simulation technology in order to specify a building’s behavior prior to its construction. However, the actual conditions of a structure versus its’ digital simulation does not always align.  My research examines ways of enhancing early design stages by embracing verifiable information behind an existing building’s design and its’ performance. It focuses on the collection and creative use of a building’s live energy data in order to improve the workflow and the output of architectural practice.

How can Data and Knowledge be instrumental for energy consumption in university campus buildings? For the past decade, the AEC industry is witnessing major technological challenges like the rapid increase in information technology as well as the requirements of practicing sustainable design. After almost two decades from its’ initial use, building information modelling (BIM) is being practically implemented and it is still in the process of maturing. This development process in digitally enabled workflows, systems design and feedback loops, can significantly improve a building’s energy use and carbon footprint.

Sean Durney BA, MA

The carbon impact of the Liverpool cultural sector

The City of Liverpool’s cultural sector is the heartbeat of the city and consists of large number of

Sean’s research will build on the master’s thesis he undertook on the Carbon Impact of Cultural Sector. The sector in Liverpool consists of large number of organisations, operations, buildings and major/minor events. The overall carbon impact of this sector is currently unknown and is urgently required in order to benchmark the sector and develop mitigation strategies to reduce it to zero, in line with the City Councils commitment to achieving net zero carbon by 2030. This PhD will be focused on developing an approach to capturing cultural data from the sector, creating a new process and framework to measure carbon impact, reporting the output to UK and international partners and developing an action plan to help organisations and the city council reduce the impact to zero. Furthermore, it will help identify the actions necessary to reduce the impact and engender change across the city. Together with Liverpool based industry partner The Fifth Sector, digital solutions to robust analysis, methodology and dataset will be developed along with a cost-orientated action plan for the cultural organisations of the city.

Yashika Narula BArch, MSc

The impact of the performance gap on the creation of Net Zero Carbon (NZC) homes in the UK.

In order for a new UK dwelling to be constructed, it is required by law to pass stringent building regulations.  Part L of the building regulations is concerned with fuel, energy and carbon and at present the Standard Assessment procedure (SAP) 2010 is used to estimate the resultant energy and carbon use. Once constructed and occupied the energy and carbon impact is generally higher. The difference between the estimate vs actual energy use is commonly referred to as the performance gap and SAP has been criticised for underestimating the real world impact. This PhD will be focused on how significant this performance gap difference is and what impact it will have on the creation of NZC homes in the future. Through the collection of design and real world data and the use of simulation, the researcher will provide a large number of recommendations for policy makers, house builders and designers to achieve NZC by 2050. Uncertainty analysis will also be required to test the robustness of the results.

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