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Centre for Sustainable Development

Est 2000 - home of the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

 CUBES (Cambridge University Built Environment Sustainability)

CUBES (Cambridge University Built Environment Sustainability) is an interdisciplinary research group led by Dr Alice Moncaster aimed at facilitating a quicker transition to a low-carbon, more sustainable built environment.

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Of all industrial sectors, the built environment puts the most pressure on the natural environment. In the European Union, it accounts for 50% of all extracted materials, 42% of the final energy consumption, 35% of greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions and 32% of waste flows. It is evident that irrespective of which problem sits at the top of the policy agenda—resource scarcity, energy security, or climate change and global warming—the built environment has a key role to play across all.

Most of our past and present research focuses on embodied and whole life carbon of buildings and we are currently extending our work further to include embodied materials, resource depletion, circular economy, and – in general – a more holistic environmental impact assessment. We often use an industry-academia co-production of knowledge, as it has proved one of the most effective pathways to real-world impact.

We welcome collaborations from academia and industry to broaden our research themes and increase our impact.

Current Members

Dr Alice Moncaster

Dr Francesco Pomponi

Catherine De Wolf

Chris Seeley

Hannah Baker

Lara Mifsud

Jack Claydon

Sadiya Jaleel


Past Members

Katie Symons

Eleni Soulti

Dr Ji-Young Song

Stratos Gavotsis

Cham Ariyaratne

Dr Vicky Cheng

Daniella Sahagun

Sarah Fitton

We have worked and are working on several funded projects, listed below.

Implementing whole life carbon in buildings                                                                               2015-17

PI: Dr Alice Moncaster – RAs: Catherine De Wolf, Dr Francesco Pomponi

Project partners: RICS, Arup, Faithful and Gould (Atkins), Sturgis, SBP, Laing O’Rourke, Land Securities

Funding: EPSRC £80k (Cambridge), as part of £400k project funded by Innovate UK + partners

The project aims to develop a common whole life carbon calculation framework, and a certification scheme, to be used across the building industry. 

Quantifying embodied carbon reduction potential in buildings                               2015-16

PI: Dr Alice Moncaster – RA: Dr Francesco Pomponi

Funding: £38k Isaac Newton Trust and Department of Engineering

Developing an understanding of the key issues and strategies for embodied carbon reduction.

International Energy Agency EBC Annex 57                                                                        2012-2016

PI: Dr Alice Moncaster – RAs: Eleni Soulti, Dr Francesco Pomponi

Key project partners: Utsunomiya University Japan, CSIRO Australia, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Germany, KTH Sweden, NTNU Trondheim Norway, SBi Denmark

The invited UK member of a major five year international project on embodied energy and carbon in buildings, working with 25 researchers from 15 countries to develop inter-Governmental guidelines.  Co-leader of subtask 4 and lead author of the report on ‘Design and construction methods for buildings with low embodied energy and CO2e emissions’.

Design for Future Climates (D4FC), St Faith’s School                                                      2011–2013

Consultant: Dr Alice Moncaster RA: Dr Vicky Cheng

Project partners: Verve Architects, St Faith’s School

Funding: £10k (Cambridge) as part of £100k project funded by TSB

Worked with design team and client to develop adaptation strategies for Victorian and modern school buildings.   

Project Butterfly                                                                                                                                       2010-2012

Dr Alice Moncaster: Senior Research Associate, leading project for Cambridge, and wrote funding application RAs: Katie Symons, Dr Ji-Young Song

Project partners: BLP Insurance, Willmott Dixon, UCL Energy Institute

Funding: EPSRC £180k (Cambridge) as part of £1.1m project funded by TSB + partners

Designed, developed, and successfully delivered a tool for embodied energy and carbon calculation.

Domestic retrofit at Rampton Drift                                                                                        2011-2012

Consultant: Dr Alice Moncaster MEng student: Daniella Sahagun

Project partners: South Cambs District Council (SCDC), Willmott Dixon

Funding: Central Government (DCLG), via SCDC

Led a research programme into the technical and social challenges of retrofit programme.