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The Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies

- the research arm of the Department of Architecture

Studying at Cambridge


Behaviour and Building Performance

ReActor House

Designed and built by Behaviour and Building Performance Centre’s researcher and artist Alex Schweder with Ward Shelley, ReActor is the latest work in an experimental, performative series of ‘social relationship architecture’. In the summer of 2016, for a total of five days, the architect-artist duo lived in the rotating house, located in upstate New York

The focus of the BBP research team is on the interrelationships between people and the built environment. On the one hand, human behaviour, perception and wellbeing is influenced by architecture and urban design. On the other hand, occupants have a major impact on the environmental and energy performance of buildings. Current projects range from international research collaborations such as the UserTEC programme - with Aalborg, Copenhagen, Delft, Linkoping and Oxford Universities and industries – and the B-BEM project funded by the EPSRC and in collaboration with the Cambridge Engineering Department, to performative art installations such as the ReActor house depicted above. The BBP team consists of three fulltime academics and a dozen researchers listed below:



Performance gap

Galvin, R., 2015, ‘Constant’ rebound effects in domestic heating: Developing a cross-sectional method. Ecological Economics 110: 28–35.

Sunikka-Blank, M., Galvin, R., 2012, Introducing the prebound effect: the gap between performance and the actual consumption, Building Research and Information, 40(3), pp. 260-273.

Behaviour and retrofit

Ben, H., Steemers, K., 2014, Energy retrofit and occupant behaviour in protected housing, Energy and Buildings, 80, pp. 120–130.

Heo, Y., Augenbroe, G., Graziano, D., Muehleisen, R.T., Guzowski, L., 2014, Scalable methodology for large scale building energy improvement: relevance of calibration in model-based retrofit analysis. Building and Environment, doi:10.1016/j.buildenv.2014.12.016

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2014, The UK homeowner-retrofitter as an innovator in a socio-technical system, Energy Policy, 74, pp. 655-662.

W. V. Lee and K. Steemers, 2013, ‘Accounting for exposure duration in overheating risk assessment: A Chicago retrofit case study’, ASHRAE Transactions, 119 (2).

Sunikka-Blank, M., Chen, J., Dantsiou, D., Britnell, J., 2012, Improving energy efficiency of social housing areas – a case study of a retrofit achieving an ’A’ energy performance rating in the UK, European Planning Studies, 20(1), pp. 133-147.

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2013, Economic viability in thermal retrofit policies: Learning from ten years of experience in Germany. Energy Policy 54: 343–351.

Behaviour and energy demand

Chen, J., Wang, X., Steemers, K., 2013, ‘A statistical analysis of a residential energy consumption survey study in Hangzhou, China’, Energy and Buildings, 66, Nov., 193-202.

Cheng, V., Steemers, K., 2011, ‘Modelling domestic energy consumption at district scale: A tool to support national and local energy policies’, Environmental Modelling and Software, Elsevier, Volume 26, Issue 10, October 2011, pages 1186–1198, doi:10.1016/j.envsoft.2011.04.005.

Yun, G.Y., Steemers, K., 2011, ‘Behavioural, physical and socio-economic factors in household cooling energy consumption’, Applied Energy, vol. 88, issue 6, pages 2191-2200,  doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2011.01.010.

Yun, G.Y., Steemers, K., 2010, Night-time naturally ventilated offices: Statistical simulations of window-use patterns from field monitoring. Solar Energy, 84(7), 1216-1231. doi:10.1016/j.solener.2010.03.029

Chen, J., Steemers, K., 2010, ‘A Pilot Investigation of Occupant Behavior and Energy Demand for the Domestic Sector in China compared to the UK’, Proceedings of the 1st China-UK Forum on Low Carbon Cities and Architecture (LCCA), December, Harbin Institute of Technology.

Steemers, K., Yun, G.Y., 2009, 'Household energy consumption: a study of the role of occupants', Building Research and Information, 38(1), pp. 625 – 637.

Yun, G.Y., Tuohy, P., Steemers K., 2009, ‘Thermal performance of naturally ventilated buildings using a combined algorithm of probabilistic occupant behaviour and deterministic heat and mass balance models’, Energy and Buildings, 41(5), pp. 489-499

Behaviour modelling

Choudhary, R., Bafna, S., Heo, Y., Hendrich, A., Chow, M., 2010, A predictive model for computing the influence of space layouts on nurses movement in hospital units. Journal of Building Performance Simulation, 3(3):171-184.

Li, Z., Heo, Y., Augenbroe, G., 2009, HVAC system design methods that respond to organizational dynamics. Proceedings of the Eleventh International IBPSA Conference, Glasgow, Scotland.

Behaviour and policy

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2014, Disaggregating the causes of falling consumption of domestic heating energy in Germany, Energy Efficiency, 7: pp. 851-864.

Galvin, R., 2013, Targeting ‘behavers’ rather than behaviours: A ‘subject-oriented’ approach for reducing space heating rebound effects in low energy dwellings. Energy and Buildings 67: 596–607.

Galvin, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2012, Including fuel price elasticity of demand in net present value and payback calculations of thermal retrofits, Energy and Buildings, 50, pp. 219-228.

Health and Wellbeing

Anderson, J., Ruggeri, K., Steemers, K., & Huppert, F. (2016). 'Lively Social Space, Well-Being Activity, and Urban Design', Environment and Behaviour, 1-32 (Open Access link)

Steemers, K., 2015, ‘Architecture for well-being and health’, Daylight & Architecture, Spring 2015, Issue 23, pp 6-27. (also available online:

Manchanda, S., Steemers, K., 2011, ‘Environmental Control and the Creation of Wellbeing’ in Rassia, S. Th. and Pardalos, P. M. (eds.), Sustainable Environmental Design in Architecture: Impacts on Health, pp. 69-82, Springer, NY, 28 November 2011 (ISBN 978-1-4419-0744-8) (DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-0745-5)

Baker, N., Rassia, S., K. Steemers, 2011, ‘Designing for occupant movement in the workplace to improve health’, Proceedings of the 5th International Symposium on Sustainable Healthy Buildings, SHB2011, Seoul, Korea, 10 Feburary 2011 (ISBN 978-89-94935-00-3 94500).

Steemers, K., Manchanda, S., 2010, ‘Energy efficient design and occupant well-being: Case studies in the UK and India’, Building and Environment, Volume 45, Issue 2, February 2010, pp. 270-278.

Anderson, J., French, M., Steemers, K., 2010, ‘Sustainability as promoting well-being: psychological dimensions of thermal comfort’. Conf Proc, Sustainable Building: Building SMART, Dipoli, Finland, 22-24 September.

Steemers, K., 2009, ‘Sustainable Design and Well-being’, Proc. of the 1st International Symposium on Sustainable Health Building, Seoul, Korea, pp. 173-180, 6 February 2009. (ISBN 978-89-955194-5-5)

Thermal comfort

Sharmin, T., Steemers, K. Matzarakis, A., 2015, ‘Analysis of micro-climatic conditions and outdoor thermal comfort perceptions in the tropical megacity Dhaka, Bangladesh’, Building and Environment, (accepted for publication).

Sharmin, T., Steemers, K., 2014, Harmonious accordance of indoor-outdoor comfort and building energy performance by ameliorating urban microclimate in different urban block types in tropical climate. IC2UHI - International Conference on Countermeasures to Urban Heat Island, Venice, Italy, October 13-15, 2014.

Lee, W.V., Steemers, K., 2013, ‘Reviewing Overheating Assessment in the Context of Health Risk – A demonstration of the effects of retrofit in future climates’, CISBAT International Conference, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland, 4-6 September.

Lee, W.V., Steemers, K., 2013, ‘Unpacking Overheating Risks Through Exposure Duration: A demonstration of the effect of construction types in future climates’. PLEA 2013 Conference Proceedings, Munich, German, 10-12 September.

Sharmin,T., Steemers, K., 2013, Effect of Canyon Geometry on Outdoor Thermal Comfort: a Case-study of High-density, Warm-humid Climate. PLEA 2013 Conference Proceedings, Munich, Germany. 10-12 September.

Lee, W.V., Steemers, K., 2013, ‘Accounting for Exposure Duration in Overheating Risk Assessment – A Chicago retrofit case study’, ASHRAE Annual Conference, Denver, CO, USA, 22-26 June.

Lee, W.V., Steemers, K., 2013, ‘Beyond Benchmarking: Accounting for exposure duration in overheating risk assessment method - London mid-terraced dwelling case study’, CIBSE Technical Symposium, Liverpool, UK, 11-12 April.

Perception and light

Lo, W.L., Steemers, K., 2014, A new subjective-objective approach to evaluating lighting quality, Passive and Low Energy Architecture conference, PLEA 2014, Ahmedabad, India.

Lo, W.L., Steemers, K., 2014, Perceived and Measurable: Lighting of Cambridge King's College Chapel for concerts as a case study. Proceedings of Experiencing Light 2014, International Conference on the Effects of Light on Wellbeing, Eindhoven, the Netherlands, 10-11 November

Lo, W.L., Steemers, K., 2012, Application of the state of the art HDR imaging analysis in lighting research: A pilot study on King’s College Antechapel, Cambridge. In: Proceedings of Experiencing Light 2012: International Conference on the Effects of Light on Wellbeing, Eindhoven, Netherlands, 12-13 November.

Uncertainty and performance

Sun, Y., Heo, Y., Xie, H., Tan, M., Wu, J., Augenbroe, G., 2014, Uncertainty quantification of microclimate variables in building energy simulation. Journal of Building Performance Simulation, 7(1):17-32.

Heo, Y., and Zavala, V. M. (2012). Gaussian process modeling for measurement and verification of building energy savings. Energy and Buildings, 53:7-18.

Heo, Y., Choudhary, R., and Augenbroe, G. (2012). Calibration of building energy models for retrofit analysis under uncertainty. Energy and Buildings, 47:550-560.