A Reading University student is the first person to benefit from a brand new award from the Panasonic Trust, a partnership between the Royal Academy of Engineering and Panasonic (UK) Limited. The new award, the Panasonic Trust Project Presentation Prize of £1000, has been instigated as part of the celebration of the twentieth year of the partnership.

The prestigious, new prize went to MSc student, Ian Meikle, whose project in Renewable Energy and the Environment had, in the opinion of the judges, best fulfilled a series of stringent criteria.

Ian’s project involved devising a way of evaluating the performance of energy saving buildings. Max Fordham LLP, who specialise in low energy building services, were looking for a post-occupancy energy performance evaluation methodology to allow them to quantify the performance of the buildings they design services for. Ian provided the answer!

He spent five months observing and analyzing the performance of a Hertfordshire-located commercial building designed to use minimal energy. A ‘low energy’ building that is also striving to be a ‘zero-carbon’ building, it employs an impressive array of renewable technologies including a wind turbine, photovoltaic cells (which directly convert sunlight into electricity), a seasonal heat store and a biomass boiler to satisfy all of its energy needs.

In 2006, the EU 2006 Energy Performance of Buildings Directive will be introduced to shape the way in which the energy performance of buildings is evaluated. With this in mind, not only did Ian research the building’s performance, but he also looked at the directive itself and the planned UK measures to implement it - including the evaluation of buildings.

Finally, Ian used the results from the evaluation to improve the performance of the building he had studied.

This involved reducing the building’s gas consumption by 50%, saving a further 42 tonnes of carbon dioxide and £3,000 pa! The higher than anticipated use of gas was actually due to an unforeseen requirement to heat the building 24/7 to satisfy security guards, so recommendations were made to provide local heating for the guards and to design security guard heating provisions into future buildings.

Since his MSc course, Ian has gone on to great things. He says,

“My reason for taking the MSc at Reading was to facilitate a career change. I had been working in IT for a city based financial organisation when I took a general environmental course (part time) with the Open University. From this I realised that energy, and in particular renewables generation, was the field I was most interested in so signed up for the Reading course.

During the MSc I realised I was becoming increasingly interested in the energy performance of buildings. The week after the course ended, I started work at BRE (Building Research Establishment) where I am now able to apply the academic knowledge I gained.”

Terry Lazenby, formerly Chief Engineer at BP International and Chair of judges says,

“An award for a project in Renewable Energy and the Environment has to be applauded and I was pleased to be invited to be Chair of Judges. That said however, it was an extremely difficult decision to make due to the high standard of entries. They were all worthy of a prize!”

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  2. The criteria used in awarding the prize are:
  • Depth of knowledge about the subject.
  • Achievements of the project, including new ides, new processes, integration of ideas, overcoming obstacles, conclusions.
  • Skills in presenting the project seminar, including structure, narrative, conclusions, confidence in presentation, making the topic interesting.

For more information please contact

Claire McLoughlin at The Royal Academy of Engineering