Portrait of Professor Adrian Pitts Professor Adrian Pitts

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a.pitts@hud.ac.uk | 01484 473288


Professor Adrian Pitts joined the University of Huddersfield in 2012 where he is Professor of Sustainable Architecture. He leads the Sustainable Environments and Practice research group within CUDAS (the Centre for Urban Design, Architecture and Sustainability) in the Department of Architecture and 3D Design and is also Course Leader for the revised and updated MSc Sustainable Architecture. He has taught environmental and energy efficient design, supervised numerous research projects and research students, and published widely over a period exceeding 25 years in three different Universities. Cross-disciplinary initiatives have characterised his academic career and he has been involved with many teaching and research activities spanning the fields of: architecture, engineering, planning, environment and landscape, policy and urban development.

His undergraduate studies were energy engineering focused and led to the award of a BSc Tech from the University of Sheffield. He followed this with a PhD in the area of building environmental design involving an industrial collaborator and sponsor. This doctoral level research concerned air movement and energy flows in a complex industrial building with a view to optimisation of air conditioning systems and efficient environmental design. The knowledge and skills gained in the manipulation of environmental monitoring software and hardware led to subsequent employment within the energy group of a computer systems company.

He returned to the University of Sheffield to take up a lectureship in Building Science and later moved to the School of Architecture where his lecturing and teaching duties focused on energy efficiency, environmental design, and building services. He was Course Director for a group of masters’ level degrees substantially increasing student numbers from the UK and around the world. His research and teaching interests grew over this period from being initially focused on buildings and building components to encompass the much larger scale of urban issues and planning. During this period he led and coordinated a number of multi-institutional projects funded by the European Union (EU) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

In 2007 he transferred to Sheffield Hallam University where he was awarded the title of Professor of Sustainable Architecture and played a leading management role alongside staff of other disciplines including geography and housing in the Department of Architecture and Planning. He held a number of posts including Departmental Research and Scholarship Leader and was Course Leader for the MSc Technical Architecture. He was involved in a number of research projects including into energy consumption in dwellings and barriers to energy efficiency and take up of renewable energy technologies by social housing tenants. He also played a significant role in the cross-university sustainability group with involvement from all faculties and subject areas.

Adrian was appointed to the Head of Department of Architecture and 3D Design at the University of Huddersfield in 2012; his role changed in 2015 with an expansion of research duties in the environmental design and sustainability field and involvement in other areas including co-chairing the University’s Education for Sustainable Development Forum for 3 years. A current research focus is on the rural-urban interface for sustainable development in China and stakeholder attitudes to environmental/green design. He also continues his career-long interest in thermal comfort inside and around buildings and particularly in warm environments and building transition zones. He also researches the processes for achieving improved sustainable and bioclimatic design together with energy efficiency, and also the role of teaching staff in these processes.

Professor Pitts is the author of over 100 research publications including three books, a number of chapter contributions to books, and numerous refereed journal and conference papers. His most recent book concerned sustainable development and the Olympic Games. He has supported over 30 PhD students as principal supervisor and been co-supervisor to many more. He has acted as external examiner for approximately 35 research theses and also a number of masters’ programmes, these duties covering numerous universities in the UK and overseas. He has guest-lectured at many institutions around the world including Australia, China, Greece, Ireland, Egypt and Latvia. In the UK he regularly reviews research council funding applications (he is in his third term as a member of the EPSRC Peer Review College) and also reviews research papers for a range of key scientific journals in the field.

Research and Scholarship

Adrian Pitts has been involved in a range of research and scholarship activities as well as contributing a number of professional and industry based CPD courses and activities over his career. Key themes of his research interests over recent years have included:

Integrated planning and design strategies to promote and encourage sustainability
Professor Pitts identified that for many years the design and construction of individual buildings had been investigated and many technologies developed and proven (though often showing exaggerated initial claims) He saw the need for the already demonstrated potentials and benefits of single examples to be converted to the wider market requiring knowledge and action at strategic planning levels. The research he carried out complemented Government policies on low-carbon and sustainable building and showed that there was much to be learned from other countries and best-practice examples in the UK. Some of his recent work has been concerned with planning and design issues associated with the hosting of an Olympic Games. He is also involved in evolving research into the role of urban areas regions from a UK and also international perspective in ways to optimise sustainability.

Comfort and energy use in buildings
Adrian’s initial interest in comfort and energy began with his PhD which investigated hot factory environments; this subsequently led to an interest in warm climate buildings and comfort. A number of research projects have been concerned with this area and also the analysis and prediction of comfort according to different algorithms. Building transition spaces are a particular area of interest. The research is supported by contacts with world experts and through the Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings. He has been a regular contributor to the biennial international conference on thermal comfort held in Windsor and a frequent member of the Scientific Committee.

Renewable and alternative energy sources and their integration into buildings/built environment
It is clear that options for use of renewables are particularly relevant in the current global climate change scenarios, however practical and efficient use is needed. Research in this area began through collaboration with the Northumbria Photovoltaics Applications Centre, and was linked to EPSRC funded projects and has expanded into new themes over the years. Building integration is likely to become much more common but there are issues requiring resolution for optimum performance and the role of tenants/occupants of buildings has been researched in recent projects.

Sustainability of rural development in China
An expanding area of research is concerned with built environment sustainability in China. Urban areas have particular problems in this rapidly expanding economy and optimising performance and understanding are key features of the research themes conducted. Stakeholders play a very important role and this can vary depending upon location and issues. An often neglected aspect of concern however is the sustainability of rural areas and villages – however there has been much more focus on the countryside in recent years in Chinese policies and this is a developing field of research activity.

Publications and Other Research Outputs


Gao, Y., Pitts, A., Dong, L. and Chen, G. (2017) ‘Building environment assessment methods and social studies of rural villages in Yunnan and urban development in Chongqing City, Southwest China’. In: Passive Low Energy Architecture - Design to Thrive, 3rd - 5th July 2017, Edinburgh , pp. 5022-5029

Mehibel, M. and Pitts, A. (2017) ‘Analysis of sustainable collective housing in Jijel, Algeria: evaluation of resident satisfaction’. In: PLEA 2017, 3rd-5th July, 2017, Edinburgh, UK , pp. 4180-4187

Dang, T. and Pitts, A. (2017) ‘Influences of Building and Urban Typologies on the Study of Thermal Comfort in ‘Shophouse’ Dwellings in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam’. In: PLEA 2017, 3rd-5th July, 2017, Edinburgh, UK , pp. 1037-1044

Pitts, A. and Gao, Y. (2017) ‘Sustainable and Green Design in Villages of Rural Southwest China’. In: PLEA 2017, 3rd-5th July, 2017, Edinburgh, UK , pp. 4509-4516

Pitts, A (2017) ‘Passive House and Low Energy Buildings: Barriers and Opportunities for Future Development within UK PracticeSustainability , 9 (2), p. 272. ISSN 2071-1050


Pitts, A (2016) ‘Establishing Priorities for Sustainable Environmental Design in the Rural Villages of Yunnan, ChinaBuildings , 6 (3). ISSN 2075-5309

Pitts, A (2016) ‘From tobacco to tourism - new traditions in Shilin County’. In: Habits Beliefs, and Tacit Knowledge: Everyday Ritual in East Asian Villages, 30th June 2016, University of Sheffield

Pitts, A (2016) ‘Impacts of Variations in Air Conditioning System Set-Point Temperature on Room Conditions and Perceived Thermal Comfort’. In: Proceedings of the 9th Windsor Conference : Making comfort relevant. : NCEUB. pp. 600-611. ISBN 9780992895730


Pitts, A (2015) ‘How to build a city for 50C heatwavesThe Conversation . ISSN 2044-5032

Jiang, W., Pitts, A. and Gao, Y. (2015) ‘Planning and Design Strategies for Sustainable Urban Development’. In: The 1st international Conference on Sustainable Buildings and Structures & The 2nd Low Carbon Construction Industrialization Forum, 30th - 31st October 2015, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China , pp. 239-246


Sabie, K., Pitts, A. and Nicholls, R. (2014) ‘Sustainability Assessment Methods for the Gulf Region’. In: PLEA (Passive and Low Energy Architecture) Conference 2014, 16th-18th December 2014, Ahmedabad, India , pp. 131-138

Gao, Y., Pitts, A. and Gao, J. (2014) ‘The Role of Ecotourism in the Sustainable Development of Qinkou village, Yunnan, China, 2001 to 2013Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Working Paper Series , 268, pp. 1-25.

Mehibel, M., Pitts, A. and Gao, Y. (2014) ‘Sustainability and the Urban Planning Context: Housing Development in Algeria’. In: PLEA (Passive and Low Energy Architecture) Conference 2014, 16th-18th December 2014, Ahmedabad, India , pp. 350-357

Pitts, A. and Gao, Y. (2014) ‘Design of Dwellings and Interior Family Space in China: Understanding the History of Change and Opportunities for Improved Sustainability PracticesBuildings , 4 (4), pp. 823-848. ISSN 2075-5309

Gao, Y. and Pitts, A. (2014) ‘Design in Different Cultures as a Participant Rather Than an Observer’. In: Innovation in Built Environment Education 2014: Collaborative Futures: Practice, Place and Professionals, 15-16 May 2014, Nottingham Trent Univesity

Pitts, A (2014) ‘Prevalence and Evaluation of Bioclimatic Design Techniques used to achieve Low Energy Comfort in Architectural Design Proposals’. In: Proceedings of The Windsor Conference: Counting the Cost of Comfort. Windsor, UK: NCEUB: Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings. pp. 1078-1090. ISBN 9780992895709


Pitts, A. and Liao, H. (2013) ‘An assessment technique for the evaluation and promotion of sustainable Olympic design and urban developmentBuilding Research & Information , 41. ISSN 1466-4321

Pitts, A (2013) ‘Thermal Comfort in Transition SpacesBuildings , 3 (1), pp. 122-142. ISSN 2075-5309


Pitts, A. and Ashby, R. (2012) ‘Insulation Prioritization Programmes, Relative Income and the Implications for the Green Deal’. In: Proceedings Retrofit 2012, 24-26 January 2012, University of Salford , pp. 1-10


Pitts, A. and Ashby, R. (2011) ‘A study of the relationships between income, energy consumption and home insulation installation’. In: UK Energy Research Centre Conference: Energy and People: Futures, Complexity and Challenge, September 2011, Oxford , pp. 1-26

Ware, J. and Pitts, A. (2011) ‘The role and impact of passive buffer spaces retrofitted to existing houses’. In: Architecture & Sustainable Development. Louvain-le-Neuve, Belgium: Presses universitaires de Louvain. pp. 645-649. ISBN 978-2-87463-277-8

Pitts, A (2011) ‘Energy Efficiency and Conservation in the UK: Missed Opportunities and Future Possibilities’. In: UK Energy Policy and the End of Market Fundamentalism. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. . ISBN 978-0-19-959300-2


Pitts, A (2010) ‘Occupant acceptance of discomfort in an atrium building: to sweat or to shiver’. In: Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings NCEUB Windsor 2010 Conference, 9-11 April 2010, Cumberland Lodge, Windsor, UK


Pitts, A (2009) ‘Energy in high density cities’. In: Designing High-Density Cities For Social and Environmental Sustainability. London, UK: Routledge. . ISBN 978-1-84407-460-

Taleb, H. and Pitts, A. (2009) ‘The potential to exploit use of building-integrated photovoltaics in countries of the Gulf Cooperation CouncilRenewable Energy , 34 (4), pp. 1092-1099. ISSN 0960-1481

Pitts, A. and Liao, H. (2009) Sustainable Olympic Design and Urban Development . London, UK: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-46761-2


Pitts, A (2008) ‘Future proof construction—Future building and systems design for energy and fuel flexibilityEnergy Policy , 36 (12), pp. 4539-4543. ISSN 03014215

Wienand, N., Pitts, A., Arksey, J. and Rotherham, J. (2008) ‘Environmentally Sensitive Building Extensions and the Progression to Zero Carbon Existing Buildings’. In: Towards Zero Energy Building. Dublin, Ireland: PLEA. .

Chen, B., Pitts, A. and Ward, I. (2008) ‘Indicator for Sustainable Housing Design: from EcoHomes to the Code for Sustainable Homes’. In: Towards Zero Energy Building. Dublin, Ireland: PLEA. .

Pitts, A., bin Saleh, J. and Sharples, S. (2008) ‘Building Transition Spaces, Comfort and Energy Use’. In: Towards Zero Energy Building. Dublin, Ireland: PLEA. .


Pitts, A (2004) Planning and design strategies for sustainability and profit . Oxford, UK: Architectural Press. ISBN 0750654643


Professor Pitts has acted as external examiner for research degrees on over 30 occasions at leading universities in the UK and overseas. He has also acted as master level course external examiner for courses at Cardiff University; De Montfort University; Oxford Brookes University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has been invited to make numerous presentations on his work within the UK and also overseas in: China; Ireland; Australia; Greece; Latvia; Sweden; Denmark; Austria; and Egypt.

He is a member of the Peer Review College for the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council and acts as project proposal reviewer for that research council and the Economic and Social Research Council. Adrian has also be a member of scientific and organizing committees for conferences held in the UK and Europe, and he is regularly asked to review papers for publication in his area of expertise by most of the relevant academic journals.

He has produced reports commissioned by bodies such as the National Audit office and the Government’s Office for Science as well as for private sector professional and industry clients.

Adrian recently acted as a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and has strong academic contacts in other parts of China including: Kunming; Chongqing; Beijing; and Suzhou.

Research Degree Supervision

Adrian has successfully supervised sixteen students to achieve PhDs as well as supporting many others. He also has experience of supervising numerous research projects at masters’ level. His current areas of interest for research supervision include:

  • Thermal comfort in and around buildings and occupant evaluation of building environments and systems
  • Sustainability in rural areas and at the rural-urban interface
  • Integration of renewable energy and low carbon technologies into buildings
  • Retrofit of energy optimisation technologies into buildings and ‘futureproofing’ of buildings with respect to energy supply/demand scenarios and climate change

Postgraduate research opportunities with Professor Adrian Pitts