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Personal profile

Research interests

David Coley is Professor of Low Carbon Design and head of the Energy and the Design of Environments research centre. His research focuses on minimising the energy use of buildings through a process of physical design and an understanding of occupant behaviour. He is also interested in citywide energy modelling.

David Coley received a BSc in Physics in 1985 and a PhD in theoretical nuclear physics in 1989 (both from Surrey University). During this time he also worked briefly for the UK Atomic Energy Authority. He joined the Centre for Energy and the Environment at Exeter University in 1998, where he worked until joining Bath as Professor of Low Carbon Design in 2011. Whilst at Exeter, his main interests were in low energy design (including Passivhaus), renewables, estimating the impact of climate change on the built environment and evolutionary computation. He was also a founding member of a London based hedge fund.


David's main research interests are finding out why buildings use energy, how little they could use and where this energy might come from. In essence, this means teasing out whether the issue for the mass production of low carbon buildings is the building or the occupant.

He is a committee member of various national bodies on the built environment and on the editorial board of three journals.

Recent EPSRC projects include the production of future weather files to 2080 (PROMETHEUS) and advanced smart metering (ENLITEN), and the post occupancy elevation of buildings for TSB.

Alongside academic papers and reports for Government, David has written books on energy and climate change, genetic algorithms and rock climbing.

Willing to supervise PhD

Interested in supervising students studying:

  • Energy use in buildings
  • Passivhaus
  • Low energy/carbon design
  • Climate change
  • Post occupancy evaluation of buildings 

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Research Output

2 Downloads (Pure)

Adaptive piecewise and symbolic aggregate approximation as an improved representation method for heat waves detection

Ferreira, A. A., Barbosa, I. M. B. R., Aquino, R. R. B., Manuel, H., Natarajan, S., Fosas, D. & Coley, D., 1 Jan 2019, Intelligent Computing - Proceedings of the 2018 Computing Conference. Arai, K., Kapoor, S. & Bhatia, R. (eds.). Cham, Switzerland: Springer, p. 658-671 14 p. (Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing; vol. 858).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Current and future test reference years at a 5 km resolution

Liu, C., Chung, W., Cecinati, F., Natarajan, S. & Coley, D., 8 Oct 2019, In : Building Services Engineering Research and Technology. p. 1-25 25 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
18 Downloads (Pure)


Characterizing the relationship between energy and urban form using data, scaling and combined metrics

Author: Osorio, B. M., 3 Nov 2017

Supervisor: McCullen, N. (Supervisor), Walker, I. (Supervisor) & Coley, D. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Creation of Hot Summer Years and Evaluation of Overheating Risk at a High Spatial Resolution under a Changing Climate

Author: Liu, C., 3 Nov 2017

Supervisor: Coley, D. (Supervisor), Kershaw, T. (Supervisor) & Natarajan, S. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Defining a zero-carbon building including embodied energy of materials

Author: Parkin, A., 20 Nov 2019

Supervisor: Coley, D. (Supervisor) & Natarajan, S. (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD

Low-Energy Domestic Architecture: The Impact Of Household Behaviour On The Expected Energy Use Of Passive House Dwellings

Author: Blight, T., 16 Sep 2015

Supervisor: Coley, D. (Supervisor) & Smith, J. (External person) (Supervisor)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD