CENTRE THEME, VISION & OVERVIEW
The centre aims to understand the performance of the whole material and energy system of UK industry; to understand our patterns of consumption both in households, and in government and industry purchasing; and to look for opportunities to innovate in products, processes and business models to use less material while serving the same need. One third of the world’s energy is used in industry to make products—the buildings, infrastructure, vehicles, capital equipment and household goods that sustain our lifestyles. Most of this energy is needed in the early stages of production to convert raw materials, such as iron ore or trees, into stock materials like steel plates or reels of paper. Because these materials are sold cheaply, but making them uses a lot of energy, we are already very efficient in using energy to produce them. Therefore, the key materials with which we create modern lifestyles – steel, cement, plastic, paper and aluminium in particular – are the main ‘carriers’ of industrial energy, and if we want to make a big reduction in industrial energy use, we need to reduce our demand for these materials. In the UK, our recent history has led to closure of much of our capacity to make these materials, and although this has led to reductions in emissions occurring on UK territory, in reality our consumption of materials has grown, and the world’s use of energy and emission of greenhouse gases has risen as our needs are met through imports.
The UK INDEMAND Centre aims to enable delivery of significant reductions in the use of both energy and energy-intensive materials in the industries that supply the UK's physical needs.
Energy is used in industry to make and shape materials. The UK’s need for these materials depends on the design of the buildings and goods in which they’re used, and in turn, this depends on the preferences of final purchasers. So, energy demand in industry mainly arises from the way that final purchasers drive design choices, and hence material production.
The UK INDEMAND Centre spans four universities, with an open consortium of industrial partners starting from four lead partners, and has connections throughout government and other stakeholder groups. The UK Government's investment, through the Research Councils UK Energy Programme will fund a core team of 16 dedicated researchers across the four universities, working with the four directors.
Julian Allwood (Director) is a Reader in Engineering at the University of Cambridge, looking at the technologies and systems of energy, material and resource efficiency. From 2009 Julian has held an EPSRC Leadership Fellowship which funds WellMet2050, an 8-person project on material efficiency in collaboration with a consortium spanning the metals supply chain. This has led to the book “Sustainable Materials: with both eyes open”, online at www.withbotheyesopen.com. Julian is a Lead Author for the chapter on mitigation in industry in the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report.
Geoffrey Hammond (Co-director) is Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Founder Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy & the Environment at the University of Bath. He leads both the EPSRC ‘Realising Transition Pathways’ Consortium and the UKERC Consortium studying ‘Industrial Energy Use from a Bottom-up Perspective’. Geoff is the co-originator of the ‘Inventory of Carbon and Energy’ (ICE) widely used by practitioners for the calculation of ‘carbon footprints’ for products and in construction.
John Barrett (Co-director) is Professor of Ecological Economics at the Sustainability Research Institute, University of Leeds. His work focuses on the carbon flow in products through trade and explores how changes in demand could influence climate policy. John’s research provides the official statistics for the UK on consumption-based GHG emissions. He is a core partner of the UK Energy Research Centre and is also a lead author for the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report chapter on trends and drivers in GHG emissions.
Tim Cooper (Co-director) is Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption at Nottingham Trent University with interests spanning design, consumer behaviour, public policy and environmental ethics. He led the “Prospects for Household Appliances” project and is Contributing Editor of the book “Longer Lasting Products”. Tim was Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Environment Committee for its enquiry Reducing the Environmental Impact of Consumer Products.
Working collaboratively, the UK INDEMAND Centre will adress four central themes of industrial energy demand reduction:
1) Analysis: Mapping current and forecast demand for materials and energy across sectors.
2) Understanding: Identifying the products which drive material demand and examining attitudes towards product lifetimes and purchasing decisions.
3) Innovation: Identifying the benefits of materially efficient design in construction and exploring opportunities where manufacturing processes could reduce end-use demand for material.
4) Delivering: using the techniques of precedence studies to examine how innovations in UK industry will influence energy demand and predict the conditions under which purchasers and businesses would opt for material efficiency.