Profile

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).

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.

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 to 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 to 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.

Projects

Research Eco retrofit app

EPSRC IAA-funded project | March 2019 to March 2020

Research Eco retrofit app 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)

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 minimise 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 (RealValue), 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 (CNTUR), 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.

Publications

Topouzi, M., Mallaburn, P. and Fawcett, T. (2023) Catalysing net-zero retrofit: feasibility of an innovative salary sacrifice scheme. Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions.
TOPOUZI, M. and Bobrova, Y. (2023) “Financial incentive for retrofit in owner occupied houses: Developing new narratives for key stakeholders.”, Proceedings of the 2023 BEHAVE Conference. European Energy Network, p.150.
TOPOUZI, M. and FAWCETT, T. (2022) “Multiple benefits of a financial incentive for retrofit in owner occupied houses.”, eceee Summer Study proceedings.
Killip, G., Fawcett, T., Jofeh, C., Owen, A., Topouzi, M. and Wade, F. (2021) Building on our strengths: A market transformation approach to energy retrofit in UK homes. Centre for Research into Energy Demand Solutions.
Fawcett, T. and Topouzi, M. (2021) “Energy policy for buildings fit for the future”, in Research Handbook on Energy and Society, pp. 245–258.