Alice Moncaster

  • Senior Lecturer - Open University

Research interests

My research seeks to radically improve the environmental sustainability of construction and the built environment.  My projects are often closely involved with industry partners, and increasingly with communities and stakeholders.  Long-standing areas of research include life cycle analysis and embodied impacts of buildings, low carbon building materials, integration of renewable energy technologies, and applying the principles of circular economy in construction. As global climate change becomes increasingly apparent, it is clear that mitigation is not enough, and I am also interested in how we can retrofit our built environment to deal with the inevitable impacts of future climates - greater temperatures and poorer air quality in cities, as well as increasing flooding. These disproportionally affect disadvantaged communities. Therefore my research is moving towards understanding how we can retrofit buildings and the built environment for future climates, including low carbon building retrofit solutions for better heat resilience, nature-based solutions such as urban trees for shading and wider environmental and social benefits, and flood resilience.  As the environment becomes more harsh, disadvantaged individuals and communities are disproportionately affected, and it is essential that our research focuses on how improvements and greater resilience can be used to improve equality not entrench inequality. 

As well as purely technical research, I use social science theories and methodologies to understand the socio-technical practices and processes of design, construction, and occupation of the built environment, such as how decisions are made, how they are affected (often obliquely) by policy and regulation, and how social value is or could be incorporated.