I got some exciting news in the snail mail today. The Institute of Civil Engineers has awarded me and my MPhil supervisor the James Watt medal for the best paper on the topic of energy published in their journals last year.

I am very happy. There’s nothing like a pat on the back (and a medal!) to motivate me to write more.

Our paper
was based on three months of research I did at the tail end of my masters year at Cambridge. I interviewed eight organisations about what stopped them from building energy efficient houses in the UK. The technology exists and you’ll save money — doesn’t energy efficiency just make sense? After all, the Scandinavians got on with it all years ago.

I ended up writing about the social, organisational and structural barriers and drivers for energy efficiency. My friend, Anna, wrote about the economic barriers. This probably won’t surprise you — the problem is complicated. In fact, everything I have ever looked at with any kind of thoughtfulness is always more complicated (in fact, more complex) than it might appear.

We did not write anything ground breaking or previously unknown so I don’t know why the judging panel chose our paper. The merit was probably in the synthesis (putting it all together), rather than the thesis. Maybe I can ask one of the judges if any are at the awards ceremony in October.


Locating barriers and drivers in the house building system

Figure 2 Locating barriers and drivers in the house building system


My flatmate Aoife is so nice! She came back from her weekend shop with celebratory champagne, chocolate and a card.

Champagne, chocolate and card

Champagne, chocolate and card


  1. Alden says:

    Hey Joan,

    That’s good news! Congratulations! Do you have the link to your paper in ICE? I’d like to read it too.

  2. joanium says:

    Thanks everyone! The paper is here but you to pay for it. Alden, I will email it to you.

    Amy, if you give me your email address using my contact form, I will email it to you too. I have to warn you, though. It’s more readable than most engineering papers but it’s still an engineering paper!

    Vera, I think I’d settle for having the chocolate touch, rather than the golden touch :)

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