New observatory to measure urban energy use in Sheffield

Sheffield University is to launch a £1.8m facility to measure Sheffield’s energy use with the aim of reducing the city’s environmental impact.

The Urban Flows Observatory will use a network of sensors and thermal cameras attached to drones, cars and balloons, bringing together fixed, mobile, atmospheric and satellite data to create a model of Sheffield’s energy and resource flows. According to the university, this will help researchers understand the material stocks in the city and the energy embodied within them, as well as how energy use is distributed across the city, which buildings are losing the most heat, and where solar energy can be most effective.

Professor Martin Mayfield, co-director of the Urban Flows Observatory, explained: “Around 80% of the UK’s energy and resources are used by our cities. By analysing these energy and resource flows, we will be able to advise councils and town planners on issues such as how to raise productivity or save energy and reduce heat loss across the city.

“In the future, we plan to look at other aspects such as air pollution and other social indicators.”

Co-director Dr Danielle Densley Tingley added: “One of the things the observatory seeks to understand is what Sheffield is made of. A detailed understanding of material use in the stock, when combined with an understanding of energy use and heat loss, will enable strategic retrofit across the city, facilitate planning decisions and support material salvage on buildings scheduled for demolition.”

The observatory is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Sign up to our newsletter

Meet our experts