My interest in the built environment began with work as a carpenter and builder in the United States, where I grew up. I studied sustainability and architectural theory for a liberal arts degree at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA (USA). This strengthened my interest in environmental design and led to a new interest in the complexity of constructing energy efficient and 'green' buildings. After several years work in conventional and green construction in the USA and the UK, I earned my MSc in Theory and Practice of Sustainable Design from the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff University.
This research is focused on solid wall insulation. Specifically, it examines the implications of decision making during pre-construction and procurement and of installer practices for as-built performance, life cycle cost (LCC) and project sustainability.
Using a mixed method approach predominately based in qualitative methods, the research will expand on current knowledge by recording the perspectives of installers and experts in the field, by documenting case studies of solid wall insulation projects, and by presenting quantitative analysis of the impacts of observed installer practices measured in LCC and life cycle assessment (LCA) of sustainability.
The research examines insulation retrofits in constructions of a range of age and typology. Conventional as well as niche and near-market insulation materials are included in the research. Broader contexts of the research include knowledge transfer and exchange, social network theory and actor network theory, and science and technology studies.
The research is comprised of interviews with a wide range of experts and practitioners, which are interpreted through the use of coding and thematic analysis. This is followed by more focused inquiry drawing on participant observation, direct observation, focus groups and semi-structured interviewing as well as the use of quantitative tools including physical testing and LCC and LCA calculation methods.
Analysis of findings examines disparities between notional, as-built, and in-use values for:
Discussion presented in this study will include the significance of research findings for training and learning, skills development, and certification of installers. Also included in discussion are the implications of the findings for revision of government policy and building regulations and standards.