CIC Start Online is in The Scottish Green List 2010 of the 20 top projects and initiatives for sustainable development

Follow cicstartonline on Twitter

Follow us on twitter!

Glasgow School of Art


Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit 

The Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit (MEARU) has been in operation for over 14 years and has an established track record of high quality research into environmental architecture. It operates at a unique interface between architectural design, science based research and human factors. The unit is built on established expertise in track record in passive solar energy design and participatory design. It was founded by Colin Porteous and Tim Sharpe, who previously worked in architectural practice at the Technical Services Agency, a tenant managed Community Technical Aid Centre, where they worked closely with tenants groups on a variety of housing and other design and rehabilitation project.

This work provided crucial insights into the interaction between people and their environment. It led to a successful European funded solar demonstration project for a tenants’ group in Easterhouse, Glasgow, and the subsequent work of the Unit has been focussed on the relationship between people and their environment.

MEARU has a long history of working with user groups in relation to housing, but its remit now includes all aspects of construction, low energy design and sustainability. The unit also has detailed knowledge of building construction and typologies, particularly in relation to UK housing.

Recent work has led to the significant expansion of MEARU, widening its portfolio of expertise to include mass customisation, microbiology in buildings and space planning and energy efficiency. The unit undertakes both research and consultancy, with corporate and commercial clients well as commercial and public organisations such as local authorities, housing associations and architects. Recent research has involved the exploration of emerging low carbon technologies in housing, such as building integrated renewables, (PV and wind turbines), as well as low carbon approaches such biofuels and CHP. Current developments into the concept of user engagement with low energy design includes research into mass-customisation for new housing, and work investigating energy and environmental impacts of domestic laundry practices. The unit is also well networked with similar European partners is represented on the International Energy Agency and publishes regularly at the Eurosun, Northsun, PLEA and WREC conference circuits.

Its situation within the Mackintosh School of Architecture, at The Glasgow School of Art enables its work to contribute to the international research community and architectural practice, whilst also directly informing teaching and learning within the School.

The Unit has undertaken a wide range of research, published extensively and is represented on several national and international committees. This activity contributes greatly to the learning and teaching culture of The Glasgow School of Art and has also established MEARU as a significant global research player in scientificand architectural circles.
Current Projects

1) Environmental assessment of domestic laundering. Sept 08 – Sept 2011. EPSRC £522,000. This research aim is to investigate the energy and environmental impacts attributable to domestic laundering and develop recommendations to address them.

2) KTP project Zero-Carbon Housing Design Research May 09 – April 12 £170,000. A project to develop air-tight energy-efficient industrialised building system as well as design guidelines that can be applied to the delivery of affordable, replicable and marketable zero-carbon mass-customisable housing, which meets requirements to achieve the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 6.

3) Wyndford Feasibility Study. Nov 07 – May 08 £35,000 Investigation into potential low carbon refurbishment of the Wyndford Estate in Maryhill (2000 properties), examining option for energy reduction and renewable energy production.

4) Wind turbines on High Rise Buildings. Mar 06 – ongoing, £30,000. Series of projects examining the use of wind energy in the built environment. Includes Glasgows first city centre turbine installation in a conservation area in Garnethill on GSA campus, KTTBE feasibility study for Dumbarton Road Community Environment Trust looking at turbine installations on Clydeside tower blocks.

5) Research Partner CIC Start online. £959,571. The main aim of the project named CIC Start On-line is to embed innovations on sustainable building design into practice. The partnership will include three HEIs in the West and four in the East of Scotland.

6) Iasi Colina. Consultancy Project for housing in Romania. The scope of the report is to discuss constructional strategy, overview of detailing and specification issues for opaque and transparent envelope, assess U-values for various construction options for walls, roofs and floors, with assessment of condensation risk, and provide advice for window specification, provide approximate estimates of time lag, thermal damping and admittance/response for opaque construction and advise on servicing strategy.

7) Love Milton. Consultancy for design advice on LoveMilton community facility, including evaluation of biofuel and CHP options.
Previously completed projects

Previously completed projects

Concept and Monitoring (hard research)

  • Crossflex - development of building integrated wind turbine in conjunction with Proven Energy
  • Blown Sheeps Wool Study – KTTBE funded research project into the use of blown sheeps wool insulation.
  • Dundasvale High Rise – Glasgow Housing Association funded study into causes of leaks in window and systems in high rise housing at Cowcaddens, Glasgow.
  • BTS Phase 1. Low level monitoring programme of community heating system in rehabilitated tenement building for Govan Housing Association; and Innovative modelling of a tenement communal heating scheme. Funded by Energy Savings Trust and the Lighthouse 
  • Lang Whang - investigation into causes of dampness in new build housing for Clydesdale Housing Association.
  • SAP SURVEY FOR COMMUNITIES SCOTLAND. Low level monitoring programme that aims to compare theoretical Standard Assessment Procedure calculations against performance data, with particular reference to ventilation. Funded by Communities Scotland 
  • SAP+. Research into the development of the Standard Assessment Procedure energy model.
  • Priesthill Housing – Glasgow City Council funded consultancy for design advice on low energy techniques for new build council housing project.
  • Tornagrain - assessment of a Charette process for new town development in Nairn for Scottish Executive.
  • Photovoltaic-powered dynamically insulated breathing wall. Research in collaboration with Building Research Establishment (BRE) at East Kilbride. Innovative solar research and development on PASSYS test cells, including parametric ESPr modelling of small PV (solar photovoltaic) arrays associated with the later stages of the project. 
  • Integrated solar air collector for enhanced trickle ventilation (collaboration with BRE, East Kilbride and commercial sponsorship; Prototype energy efficient window with variable U-value. Installation on PASSYS test cell, 1996, monitored 1996-99.
  • Glazed roof preheat spaces – A design, monitoring and evaluation project to evaluate the use of glazed roofs as pre-heat spaces in domestic construction. New build project by Dumbritton Housing Association. Funded by Energy Action Scotland
  • CEC Solar Energy Demonstration Project, Easthall (GSA monitoring 'sub-contractor', £76k budget over 1991-95); full report to EU 1995; international dissemination (10 workshops) in collaboration with NIFES, Glasgow, 1996 (additional EU funding). [Note: predictive work for CEC application prior to 1991 by C. Porteous]
  • 1997-98: Solar Towers in Glasgow (STinG); demonstration project commissioned as Thermie proposal to European Commission, DG VII, by Glasgow City Council ‘T84 Feasibility Study’ for solar thermal upgrading of T84 housing blocks in Glasgow: sought to validate innovative solar retrofit techniques, developed along with the BRE, Scottish Laboratory, and Napier University, Edinburgh.

Analysis and Appraisal (soft research)

  • 1998-99: A Pilot Database of Housing Association Projects. A project to pilot an on-line resource of information on housing association projects funded by Scottish Homes, Glasgow 1999.
  • 1995-97: Educational Workplace Well-being Study, Bourdon Building, Glasgow School of Art: Analysis of perceptions recorded on questionnaire.
  • 1994-95: An evaluation of CAD as a method for enabling user participation in housing design. Research Funded investigating the current use of participation in design and the potential of CAD to act as a participatory method. Funded by Scottish Homes.

Exhibitions (soft research)

  • 1997-99: Building Health in Glasgow, Glasgow 1999. Exhibition at Glasgow Royal Infirmary August November 1999, and Glasgow School of Art, August-September 2002; 30 page catalogue, commission by Glasgow College of Physicians and Surgeons for 4th centenary international conference, coinciding with Glasgow 99, City of Architecture and Design 40k

International Conferences

  • Board of ISES-Europe 
  • Represented on UK National Organising Committee of the 16th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference at the SECC, Glasgow
  • Organising and hosting North Sun 94, 6th a biennial international conference series, in the School of Art, including editing published proceedings


Streaming events for Scotland

echo "neero";