Centre for Sustainability of the Built Environment


The university's Centre for Sustainability of the Built Environment (CSBE), examines the environmental performance of buildings throughout their life cycle: from the sourcing of raw materials, the design, construction and operation of buildings, through to demolition and re-use and recycling of materials and components. Equipped with state-of-the-art software to model the thermal performance of buildings and to evaluate their environmental impact, the centre has the facility to undertake long-term monitoring of the internal environment, as well as thermal, visual, acoustic and air quality. The centre also boasts a thermal imaging vision camera for thermal surveys and weather stations for monitoring the external climate.

Research in the field of environmental sustainability is wide and varied, ranging from the integration of natural plants to provide shading in summer through to high-tech solutions for supplying thermal storage using phase change materials. Below are some of the centre's ongoing projects. 


Bioshading is a natural solution to the problem of overheating of buildings in the summer. The system is beautifully simple using the natural cycle of plant growth to provide shading in the summer and allow transmission of winter sun to provide passive heating. A pilot study undertaken at Plumpton College assessed different plant species and a variety of plant containers. The selected plant was Virginia Creeper because of its properties of rapid growth and as an experimental 'shader', it was grown over first floor office windows on the south face of the Cockcroft Building in the Moulsecoomb campus.The aim of the project was to determine a dynamic shading coefficient enabling designers to predict heat gain to a building at different times during the year when the plant is at different stages of growth. The success of this project has led to collaboration with the Kasetsart University in Thailand and the analysis of the biofacade in a tropical environment.


The CSBE has been working with the Low Carbon Trust to evaluate the performance of Brighton's Earthship. The UK's first 'Earthship' (pictured above) is a solar-powered, ecofriendly structure made almost entirely from used tyres and glass bottles. The award-winning Earthship Brighton bears no resemblance to the tyres and bottles which form the walls of this self-sufficient building. Autonomous and cheap to run, everything about the Earthship is designed to be eco-friendly. Tyre walls act as a thermal battery to store the sun's energy. Greywater planters clean the waste water from the sinks and shower to supply the low-flush toilet and rainwater is collected to be treated. An array of solar panels gather further energy, whilst a wind turbine harvests the wind's energy. The university monitors the natural thermal performance of the Earthship. An extensive array of monitoring equipment includes 24 temperature sensors buried in the tyre walls and in the floor; one external and three internal air temperature sensors; two humidity sensors; a solarimeter measuring solar radiation. Initial results demonstrated the thermal performance of the Earthship and the relative stability of the inside temperature, where no traditional space heating was provided.

To Continue Reading please visit the CSBE website