Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Dr Marina Topouzi


Research Groups

Dr Marina Topouzi



Marina Topouzi is an interdisciplinary researcher with the Energy research group at the ECI, with a strong background in building energy use and demand. Her main research interests concern the 'building/user' system, focussing on the factors that affect buildings' energy performance from construction to in-use. Her current project (under the Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions) researches deep renovation policy initiatives and policy mixes across the world including both technology-focused and people-focused policies. This research focusses on developing knowledge on three key aspects of deep renovation related to:

  • time, timing and policy design
  • role of intermediaries and the supply chain
  • multiple benefits of energy efficiency to deep renovation.

Marina has worked on a number of projects focused on how complex social, non-technical and technical factors are interrelated and in particular the impact they have on energy in the built environment, that include research on:

  • The 'performance gap' between intended/modelled design and actual performance of the built environment;
  • Relationships between low/zero carbon buildings (refurbished and new) and their occupants;
  • Thermal comfort, built environment and energy use;
  • Building performance monitoring and post-occupancy evaluation combining innovative tools and techniques.
  • Flexibility (or inflexibility) of household everyday activities, practices and routines on electricity demand.

Prior to starting academic research on energy efficiency and buildings, she worked since 2000 as a professional architect in a wide range of projects for the public and the private sector. In June 2022 she was also qualified as a Retrofit Coordinator.

Member of the steering task group for the BSI PAS 2035: 2019 Retrofitting Dwellings for Improved Energy Efficiency: Specification and Guidance to support the Each Home Counts Quality Mark for domestic retrofit and for the non-domestic buildings standard, PAS 2038 in the UK sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Current Research

At UK Centre for Research on Energy Demand (CREDS), exploring policies for reducing energy demand further and how policy can support energy demand changes that go beyond highly cost-effective energy efficiency, incorporating deeper technical changes and user practices, involving consideration of both technology-focused and people-focused policies. This is explored in two particular contexts: a) Policies for deep refurbishment of buildings; b) Policies for householder and organisational engagement. The work on deep refurbishment analyses policy initiatives and policy mixes across the world. In addition, it develops knowledge on three key aspects of deep renovation: time, timing and policy design; intermediaries and the supply chain; and the multiple benefits of energy efficiency.

Feasibility of a Retrofit Salary Sacrifice fiscal incentive in accelerating household retrofit investment (HEIF, Social Sciences Engagement Fellowships, March 2023-July 2023) is testing the feasibility of a novel approach, using the trend for hybrid working as a trigger to encourage retrofit home improvements in able-to-pay households. The proposed 'Retrofit Salary Sacrifice' (RSS) policy scheme is to allow employers to provide loans to employees encouraging them to carry out retrofit energy improvements in their 'home office', repaid through the tax system via gross salary contributions. This fellowship aims to build effective partnerships with specific academic and non-academic stakeholders (i.e. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy-BEIS, HM Treasury, Oxford Low Carbon Hub, University of Oxford and others) and facilitate the development of relationships between six groups of stakeholders (employee/homeowner, employer/company, Government, DNO, construction sector and public and private lenders). Testing the feasibility of the RSS incentive will enable discourse between these groups and allow to co-create novel narratives of the significant change in the current context linked to home efficiency.

Energy Demand Observatory and Laboratory (EDOL) (Jan 2023-2028) project will provide a high-resolution data resource that will track energy use in real households to understand how, why, and when domestic activity is impacting energy demand and associated carbon emissions. EDOL will develop a range of innovative methods - including innovations emerging around artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) - for monitoring not only the energy consumed by different appliances, but also the different energy-using activities that make up daily life at home.


Marina holds an undergraduate degree in architecture, having studied in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki School of Architecture and Universita degli Studi di Firenze. She has an MSc. in Energy Efficient and Sustainable Buildings from Oxford Brookes University and a DPhil from Oxford University ('Occupants' interaction with the UK's low-carbon retrofitted homes and its impact on energy use').

She joined the ECI in 2009, since then she worked in collaborative projects as research associate in the EVALOC community project at Oxford Brookes University and as research assistant in analysing and evaluating energy data of a heat pump trial at Oxford University.

Previous Projects

  • Research Eco retrofit app (EPSRC IAA-funded project March 2019- March 2020), developed a smart phone app as a learning platform and risk management tool to support low-energy skills literacy and to mitigate risk of poor-quality retrofits by increasing users' understanding of technical problems, roles and responsibilities during the retrofit process. The multi-level functionality of the app will allow users from different sectors to select offline the level of information they need to build up their learning and ability.
  • Governance of Low-carbon Innovation in Domestic Energy Retrofits (GLIDER), explored the institutional context and patterns of decision-making among construction firms in the market for Repair, Maintenance and Improvement (RMI) of homes investigating retrofit process risks of low-carbon housing stock renovation and procedures to avoid or minimize risks in a retrofit process to increase quality assurance between design and implementation stages.
  • RealValue project (Realising Value from Electricity Markets with Local Smart Electric Thermal Storage Technology), using domestic storage heating in Ireland, Germany and Latvia to benefit households and electricity markets explored how small scale energy storage systems, within people's homes (e.g. Smart Electric Thermal Storage Systems 'SETS') can provide benefits to the whole electricity supply chain, from generation and distribution, through to wholesale markets and suppliers and ultimately to the end consumer.
  • CNTUR (Collecting New Time Use Resources Energy-24), an interdisciplinary programme based at the Centre for Time Use Research (CTUR) in the Oxford University explored combined multidisciplinary methodological approaches and tools to collect, analyse an visualise data on electricity consumption, physical activity and time use in households.


  • Topouzi, M. and Fawcett, T. (2022) Multiple benefits of a financial incentive for retrofit in owner occupied houses (2-322-22). ECEEE 2022 Summer Study on energy efficiency: agents of change. European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, 6-11th June. Hyères, France.
  • Topouzi, M., Grunewald, P., Gershuny, J. and Harms, T. (2016) Everyday household practices and electricity use: Early findings from a mixed-method approach to assign demand flexibility. BEHAVE, 4thEuropean Conference on Behaviour and Energy Efficiency, Coimbra, 8-9 September 2016.
  • Janda, K.B. and Topouzi, M. (2015) Telling tales: using stories to remake energy policy. Building Research and Information, 43(4): 516-533.
  • Topouzi, M. (2015) Occupants' interaction with low-carbon retrofitted homes and its impact on energy use. Unpublished DPhil, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford.
  • Topouzi, M. (2015) Deep low-carbon refurbishment challenge: what hasn't worked as designed? Proceedings of ECEEE European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Summer Study. 1-6 June 2015, Presqu'île de Giens, France.


  • Topouzi, M. (2013) Low-carbon refurbishments: How passive or active are technologies, users and their interaction. Proceedings of ECEEE European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Summer Study. 3-8 June 2013, Presqu'île de Giens, France.

  • Janda, K.B. and Topouzi, M. (2013) Closing the loop: using hero stories and learning stories to remake energy policy. Proceedings of ECEEE European Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy Summer Study. 3-8 June 2013, Presqu'île de Giens, France


  • Topouzi, M. (2012) From design to implementation: Conceptual framework in understanding occupants' interaction with the technical change in low-carbon retrofits. Proceedings of the Energy Efficiency & Behaviour conference, 20-21 Sept 2012, Helsinki.


  • Topouzi, M. (2011) Understanding occupants' interaction with the technical change in low-carbon retrofits: a methodological and conceptual framework. Proceedings of the ECEEE European Council for Energy Efficient Economy, Summer Study 2011, Hyeres, France.


  • Topouzi, M. (2010) The effect of 'default user' inputs in modelling tools and methods in energy use. Proceedings of Passive and Low Energy Architecture - PLEA, Brussels..


  • Topouzi M. (2005), Triestexpo 2006, 'The mysterious island'. Architektonika themata=Architecture in Greece, Annual Review, No 39/2005, p.71.