City’s energy and resource usage to be understood by new Observatory

  • Centre to understand Sheffield’s energy usage with aim of reducing city’s environmental impact
  • Sensors and thermal camera on drones, balloons and cars will scan the city
  • Results used to advise council and town planners on raising productivity or saving energy and reducing heat loss

The energy and resource use in one of the UK’s biggest cities will be analysed by a new £1.8 million centre at the University of Sheffield.

Researchers at the Urban Flows Observatory will create a model of Sheffield’s energy and resource usage using fixed and mobile sensors and thermal cameras attached to drones, balloons and cars to scan the city.

Thermal Image

The model will help to create a detailed understanding of material stocks in the city, the energy embodied within them, as well as understanding how energy use is distributed across the city, which buildings are losing the most heat, and where solar energy can be most effective.

Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the centre aims to understand energy use across the city with the aim to reduce the city’s environmental impact.

Professor Martin Mayfield, Co-Director of the Urban Flows Observatory from the Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, said: “Around 80 per cent 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.”

Dr Danielle Densley Tingley, Co-Director, said: “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 Urban Flows Observatory is part of a wider network of UK Urban Observatories, a collaborative venture led by the Universities of Newcastle, Bristol and Sheffield, and part of UKCRIC (UK Collaboratorium for Research in Infrastructure and Cities), 14 universities working to address issues of infrastructure development.

Additional Information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 27,000 of the brightest students from over 140 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

Sheffield is the only university to feature in The Sunday Times 100 Best Not-For-Profit Organisations to Work For 2017 and was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education in 2014. In the last decade it has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has six Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Kirsty Bowen
0114 222 1034