Hardy and Ellis Inventions


3 Year Industry-led Funded PhD: Ref. No. 39

Smart energy control - New computational approaches for transforming the energy efficiency of controlling indoor temperature in non-domestic buildings

Energy used for heating represents over 50% of domestic energy use in UK, and has increased by 1/3rd in the past 40 years (Energy Fact File, DECC 2013). To respond to our climate change commitments, we must radically reduce the amount of energy associated with heating and cooling buildings. While low energy buildings transform this by design, given the pressing need to respond quickly to avoid catastrophic global warming we must explore how to transform this demand in existing buildings and beyond household scale. Indoor temperatures are tightly regulated to particular 'set' temperatures (e.g. 22 degrees) both technologically and culturally: maintaining these temperatures is very expensive in terms of energy. Current systems do not work in harmony with outdoor temperatures, and are not responsive to occupant dress, and changes in the actual use of indoor space.

This PhD research offers a unique opportunity to systematically explore an entirely different approach to controlling indoor temperature based on fine-grained sensing and control on a room by room basis. We will be creating experimental testbeds for working with systems and stakeholders on an entire building scale, and creating novel control systems and user interfaces that explore this issue 'in situ'. Our pilot studies suggest a significant opportunity to save between 20%-50% of energy cost by reducing overheating and heating of unused spaces, but also found significant technical and human factors challenges to be overcome.

The system will be co-created and evaluated in a unique multidisciplinary research-industry collaboration across School of Computing & Communications, Lancaster Environment Centre, Hardy & Ellis Inventions Ltd (H&E), and Lancaster University estates.

It is often said that Apple derives its success both from its technology and the quality of the products’ human interface. This project seeks applicants with a background in computer science who are interested in user interfaces. Applicants should have a degree in Software Engineering or Computer Science with an interest in how user interfaces stimulate cultural change. Applicants should be numerate and possess effective written and verbal communication skills.

Industry Partner

Hardy & Ellis is a technology company specialising in building commercial products from academic research. Directors, Dr Ellis and Dr Hardy, have built a graduate team to create industrial quality, safety, and augmented reality products based upon emerging technologies.

Why apply?

By joining the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation you will:

  • Receive £15,000 tax free per year
  • Have your postgraduate tuition fees paid for by your partner business, worth c£4,195/year (fees for Non EU/UK graduates are subsidised from £17,510/year to £13,315/year. See university website for published rates by year of entry)
  • Become part of a cohort of graduates working with an award-winning team on business-led R&D
  • Finish in a strong position to enter a competitive job market in the UK and overseas.


Application deadline

4th September 2017
Start date: October 2017

How to apply

To apply for this opportunity please email graduate-applications@cgeinnovation.org with:

The Centre for Global Eco-Innovation

This doctoral research project is one of a cohort of industry-led funded research projects from the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation, an international alliance supporting university-business collaboration. The Centre delivers high quality, business-led research to create eco-innovative technologies, products and services.

At the heart of the Centre are people who are researching, developing and innovating to address global challenges, including energy, water, natural capital, resource efficiency, food, and waste, to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits. Launched in 2012 the Centre and has won two national awards for its ground breaking approach to sustainable R&D and knowledge exchange.