Skip to main content

Completed Projects

Retrofitting a self-installation heating management system to multi-occupancy buildings (SBRI)

Funders: Technology Strategy Board
This project is being undertaken in collaboration with the University of Warwick's Estates Office and JSJS Designs. The project will retrofit an innovative wireless Heating Micro-management System (HMS) to a University campus multi-occupancy building. Using tablet and smartphone interfaces the system will provide real-time information about the use of the building and its heating system. It hands control to the building management team and the occupants at a room-by-room level and allows user interfaces to be updated at will to ensure engagement and impact. The project intends to scale up the application of products currently being used in domestic properties and prove their robustness in commercial applications. More information

Participation in Healthcare Environment Engineering (PHEE)

Funders: EPSRC
Engineering produces things (environments, products, processes)to improve our quality of life, yet the people who will ultimately use these things are often not involved in the design, or if they are, the consultation is often tokenistic. Involving people in engineering and design can have a transformative effect on new products and environments but since this is traditionally not part of formal engineering training, the benefits of participation still have a huge, untapped potential. Participation is the most powerful when it contributes to improving quality of life; healthcare is the most timely and relevant application for participation. The design of healthcare environments (such as hospitals, surgeries and nursing homes) has been linked to health outcomes so it is increasingly important to optimise the design and user experience of new build and redeveloped healthcare projects. More information

Smart Home Heating Control (HHC)

This was a six month Knowldge Tranfer Partnership (KTP) project with First Utility in Warwick, funded by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). The aim of the study was to evaluate the effectiveness of smart HHC, installed in customer households, in changing positively behaviour change as part of a pilot study by First Utility. One of our postdoctoral researcher Dr Elisavet Dimitrokali, leaded the project while based for six month at the utility company. The study was conducted using online questionnaires and interviews with customers. Supplementary methods like thermographic survey was conducted to provide context to the HHC study. The outcome of the study assisted decision making of the Utility Company in taking action to influence positively heating behaviour change.

Positive Soundscapes

This project was aimed at evaluating the sound environment (soundscapes) - to acknowledge the importance of a positive soundscape and to move away from a focus on negative noise so that positive sound can be incorporated into design and planning. The project also considered the relationship between the sound environment and the responses and behaviours of people living in it.
This was a strongly interdisciplinary project with insight coming, not just from scientists and engineers, but also artists and social scientists. WMG provided the engineering into this project which also involved University of Salford, University of the Arts, Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Manchester. More information

APPRAISE (Appropriate Product Representations for Assessment in Structured Evaluations)

This was a collaborative project between the University of Warwick, Jaguar Land Rover and Brüel & Kjær. The aim of the project was to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of decision making during product development by using customers' subjective evaluations of real life use of the product.
In a typical evaluation, participants appraise products or certain elements of products (such as a vehicle's sound) in a controlled environment, such as in WMG's Listening Room or Vehicle Simulator. However, a customer's evaluation of products in real life can differ from the way they evaluate a product in a simulated or test environment. The aim of this project was to develop tools and consistent methods for capturing the process that people go through when they are forming their perceptions of products. More information

ELVIN the Electric Vehicle

Electric cars are incredibly quiet, especially at low speeds. Imagine the potential benefits to noise pollution problems in city centres if their use was widespread. However, car sounds also act as a warning to other road users; it signifies the presence of a vehicle, its speed, direction and acceleration. Losing sound could, therefore, also be seen as a safety risk.
For this reason, it may be necessary to develop an 'appropriate' sound for electric vehicles - one that gives sufficient warning of its approach, whilst avoiding a negative impact on the environment. An additional consideration for manufacturers is that sounds affect the perception of their brand e.g. the roar of a premium car engine appeals to many users, so this needs to be considered too. More information

EMPOWER (Empowering empathic energy efficiency design)

This was a two-year project focusing on better understanding of the energy use implications of people's everyday behaviour within workplaces. The project developed a novel user-centred product / service system in order to reduce energy demand. A series of participatory design workshops with real end-users and stakeholders provided a sound basis for commercial realisation and exploitation. The benefits of such a system include both financial savings and CO2 emissions reductions, whilst the engagement of the building users also creates an improved working environment. More information


Completed Doctoral Projects (PhD / EngD)

A multi-stakeholder approach to investigate design quality achievement in construction
Ample evidence gives prominence to the value of buildings’ design quality (DQ) for its stakeholders. The research aims to look into the effects of stakeholders’ attributes on DQ achievement. Taking a mixed-method approach, the enquiry includes: exploring the interdependence between design quality and stakeholders before and after project completion; Evaluating the stakeholders’ interactions in case projects; Establishing correlation between stakeholders’ social capital factors and DQ; and, Identifying stakeholders’ critical success factors in delivering DQ.
Researcher: Mahdad Sadeghi

Supervisors: Dr Rebecca Cain, and Prof Paul Jennings

Developing appropriate methods for evaluating electric vehicles' exterior sounds
Electric vehicles (EVs) are quiet at low speeds and therefore pose a threat to pedestrians’ safety. Upcoming laws mandate that EVs emit sounds to alert pedestrians of vehicles’ approaching. For car manufacturers, these manufactured sounds also need to promote positive impressions of the vehicle brand, which may be influenced by the soundscapes in which they are perceived. This doctorate research aims to develop methods for evaluating EVs’ exterior sounds for pedestrians’ safety, vehicle brand, and the impact of soundscapes.
Researcher: Sneha Singh

Supervisors: Prof Paul Jennings and Dr Sarah Payne

End User perceptions of the design of healthcare waiting environments
This research belongs to the broad field of evidence-based design and looks at the relationship between healthcare waiting environments and end-user perceptions. Waiting for a healthcare appointment is part of the overall healthcare experience which can be both long and vulnerable. Therefore, the design of healthcare waiting environments should make this as pleasant as possible. Design recommendations for healthcare and design professionals will be established resulting from empirical experiments.

Researcher: Kieu Anh Vuong
Supervisors: Dr Rebecca Cain, and Prof Paul Jennings

Plug in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Energy Management for Real World Driving
To design an anticipative rule based plug in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) energy management system (EMS) that can adapt to uncertainties of real world driving in real time. Research has shown anticipative EMS enhances hybrid vehicle performance such as fuel economy, emission and component life. However current rule based EMS used in production vehicle are non-anticipative. Existing anticipative (or predictive) EMS requires knowing the exact trip demand in advance and computationally demanding. Full parallel PHEV model is simulated to compare the proposed EMS performance against conventional rule based EMS for various real world scenarios.

Researcher: Brahmadevan Padmarajan

A generalised powertrain design optimisation methodology to reduce fuel economy variability in hybrid electric vehicles
The variation in fuel economy (FE) due to variation in driving, not only a problem in conventional vehicles but also a major problem in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), can lead to FE benefits of HEVs not being fully realised in real world usage. This research proposed a powertrain design optimisation methodology that demonstrated the potential to reduce variation in FE by 6% as compared to a Toyota Prius HEV.

Researcher: Hillol Roy

The disconnect between market research data and structural evaluations within the automotive industry
Using certain vehicle attributes (such as sound quality) this project explored the disconnect between the data captured from post-purchase market research surveys (e.g., JD Power), and the data that we gain from "Structured Evaluations" (i.e. evaluations conducted in controlled environments, either in a laboratory or on-road). We know at the moment that there is an incongruence between what people "say they do", and "what they actually do", so this PhD project combined a psychological perspective with engineering to explore this issue. The PhD was closely linked to our major project APPRAISE (Appropriate Product Representations for Assessment in Structured Evaluations). The PhD research will ultimately help automotive manufacturers and marketing companies to ensure that they are asking the right questions in post-purchase surveys, as well as generating knowledge to further understand how vehicle owners evaluate sound quality earlier in new project development. The knowledge created may be generalised across a number of vehicle attributes.

Researcher: Mujthaba Ahtamad
Supervisors: Prof Paul Jennings, Dr Rebecca Cain, and Prof Koen Lamberts (Dept of Psychology)
Funded by: EPSRC and ESRC
Supported by: Jaguar and Land Rover

Positive Soundscapes for healthcare environments
When most people think of sound, they tend to think of it as noise - as something negative that should be eliminated. However, this fails to take into account the positive effects that sound can have within an environment. Within healthcare there are significant opportunities to improve the soundscape of wards by considering how people feel from hearing these sounds (or soundscape) rather than concentrating on their mitigation. As a spin-off from our major project, The Positive Soundscapes Project, this project aimed to answer the question “what is the perception of a hospital ward soundscape and how can this be improved?" With direct involvement of nurses and patients throughout, the project explored people's perceptions of a cardiothoracic ward soundscape. Using field recordings a method was developed to measure subjective responses to the hospital ward sounds along with ways to improve this response. These experimental studies were carried out within the Experiential Sound Room and in-situ within a cardiothoracic hospital ward. This research has relevance for nursing and those involved in healthcare environment design.

Research Student: Jamie Mackrill
Supervisors: Dr Rebecca Cain, and Prof Paul Jennings
Funded by: Warwick Innovative Manufacturing Research Centre (WIMRC)
Supported by: University of Coventry and Warwickshire University Hospital

The design quality of residential nursing homes and the effect on the depression levels of residents
The aim of the study was to explore the relationship between the built environment and depressive symptoms of older people living in care homes. The study was conducted alongside a large NIHR HTA funded trial: Older people’s exercise intervention in residential and nursing accommodation (OPERA) at Warwick Medical School. A systematic review was conducted to evaluate instruments designed to measure the built environment of health care settings and to identify the most appropriate instrument to measure the built environment of UK care homes. 50 care homes in Coventry, Warwickshire and northeast London were assessed using the instrument. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) for 510 residents living in the care homes, at baseline, 6 and 12 months; multi-level modelling was used to analyse the data. The results of the study will have relevance for designers and architects involved in designing and planning care homes, as well as contributing to the wider body of knowledge on the built environment and wellbeing.

Research student: Rachel Potter
Supervisors: Dr Rebecca Cain, Prof Paul Jennings, and Dr Bart Sheehan (Warwick Medical School)
Funded by: WMG DTA