skip to primary navigationskip to content

The Martin Centre for Architectural and Urban Studies

- the research arm of the Department of Architecture

Studying at Cambridge

Aaron Gillich

Graduate Student




Aaron Gillich is completing his PhD in thermal retrofit policy evaluation at the University of Cambridge.  He is currently working as a Research Fellow at the Center for Efficient and Renewable Energy in Buildings (CEREB) at London SouthBank University.

Research Summary

His PhD research explored the policy responses to barriers to energy efficiency, specifically how to measure efforts to drive self-sustaining changes to retrofit markets.  His dissertation presented a theory-based assessment of the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program (BBNP) in the United States.

Based on qualitative and quantitative data from 41 different BBNP case studies, a common retrofit program structure was described consisting of five categories: program design, outreach, workforce engagement, financial incentives, and data and evaluation.  Successful outreach requires community based marketing and personal engagement through trusted messengers.  Workforce engagement is achieved through incentives for training and leveraging contractors as the program sales force.  Financial incentives should be calibrated over time to deliver short term grants and develop loan programs in the longer term.  Data and evaluation tools should be designed to give rapid feedback and iteratively improve the program design and incentive structure throughout.

Ongoing research projects include the application of the theory-based assessment methodology used in the PhD research towards the UK Green Deal Communities Program, which allocated £86M to 24 communities across the UK as competitive grants, closely mirroring the BBNP process in the US.  His research is also exploring how to adapt Community Based Social Marketing (CBSM) outreach strategies to UK markets.  CBSM uses behavioural concepts such as social norms and trusted messengers to help increase the uptake of retrofit measures across entire communities.  Finally, his research also explores the relationship between retrofit policies and the workforce, specifically skills gaps in the UK retrofit market and the role of policy in addressing those gaps.