Sustainable Consumption

  • Unit(s) of assessment: D34 - Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory
  • School: School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment



Sustainable Consumption is a multidisciplinary research group that focuses on people's influence on sustainability as users of products and services, ranging from consumer durables and clothing to buildings. Members apply theoretical and practical knowledge from design and related disciplines to environmental and social sustainability, often integrating expertise in design with research frameworks drawn from the social sciences.

The group is based in the School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment but works closely with sustainability experts across the University.

Key research themes

Staff are active in the following areas of research:

  • sustainable product design
  • sustainable electrical and electronic goods, human-powered products
  • sustainable behaviour
  • the repair and maintenance of consumer goods and industrial equipment
  • reuse, closed loop and upcycling practices
  • social innovation, collaborative consumption and social practices
  • clothing longevity, fashion design and culture
  • sustainable materials and supply chains
  • sustainability, trends and marketing
  • energy use in buildings, low impact buildings, water usage, recycled construction materials
  • craft-based practices
  • interdisciplinary practices and pedagogy.

PhD opportunities

We welcome applications to undertake a higher degree by research leading to the award of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Master of Philosophy (MPhil). Further information on research degrees is available on the University website.

Head of the group

Professor Tim Cooper is Head of the research group. After graduating from the University of Bath, Tim worked as an economist in industry for over a decade before undertaking research at the New Economics Foundation and Sheffield Hallam University. Contributing Editor of Longer Lasting Products (Gower, 2010), his research interests are multidisciplinary, embracing design, consumer behaviour, public policy and environmental ethics. He has managed research projects funded by the European Commission, Council of Europe, EPSRC, ESRC, Defra, WRAP and industry and third sector organisations and was Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Environment Committee for its enquiry Reducing the Environmental Impact of Consumer Products.

This group's research contributed towards the Public Policy on the Sustainability of Consumer Goods Impact Case Study for REF 2014.

For academic enquires and for more information about this research group, please contact the Research Group Leader, Professor Tim Cooper by email or telephone: +44 (0)114 848 4329.


The Centre for Industrial Energy, Materials and Products (CIE-MAP) is a partnership between Nottingham Trent University, Bath University, Cardiff University and Leeds University. The Centre works with a range of industry partners and government departments (e.g. BEIS, Defra, DCLG), together with organisations such as the Green Alliance, Innovate UK, WRAP, the Furniture Reuse Network and the Committee on Climate Change.

NTU's recent research projects on clothing for WRAP have involved collaboration with a wide range of leading retailers and manufacturers, including those signed up to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan. We also work with manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment and have recently concluded a research project for Defra in close collaboration with a leading vacuum cleaner manufacturer.

We regularly work in partnership with a range of research organisations, including the Policy Studies Institute, Ipsos MORI, Oakdene Hollins, MADE-BY and JRA Associates.

For academic enquires please contact the Research Group Leader, Professor Tim Cooper by email or telephone +44 (0)115 848 4329. For further information on business collaborations, please contact Chris Davison, College Business Development Manager, by email or telephone +44 (0)115 848 8215.

Working with us

We welcome informal enquiries about potential research or consultancy projects and other forms of collaboration. In the first instance please contact:

Tim Cooper, Professor of Sustainable Design and Consumption
Telephone: +44 (0)114 848 4329

Areas in which members of the research group can offer skills and expertise are detailed below.

Theory, policy and practice

  • consumption and meaning, symbolic and functional value, modernity and fashion, ethical consumption
  • sustainable consumption and public policy, environmental policy, waste prevention policy
  • consumer behaviour, consumption as everyday practice, cultural / social sustainability, unconventional user behaviour, systems of use, the product-service mix
  • measuring sustainable consumption, ecological footprints.

Consumer products and services

  • product lifespans, durability and reliability, reuse, product quality, timelessness
  • sustainable textiles and fashion, clothing supply chains, British wool and knitwear, user perceptions of sustainable clothing, embroidery and knitting
  • sustainable theatres and performance.

Buildings and infrastructure

  • buildings and users, user perceptions of sustainable architecture / buildings, costs and perceived value
  • sustainable architecture, vernacular architecture
  • sustainable building construction, use of recycled materials, lightweight materials and structures, structural design, structural optimisation
  • Building procurement
  • sustainable transport, efficiency of local transport, energy efficient highway design
  • water consumption, flood defences, urban drainage.

Energy and materials

  • energy consumption, self-powered products, renewable energy, energy harvesting
  • sustainable materials use, upcycled / recycled textiles, sustainable yarn / fabrics, recycled plastics, concrete, closed loop materials.

Design and technology

  • sustainable product design, eco-design / environmental design, multidisciplinary design
  • product development, user-centred design, sustainable innovation
  • design and social change
  • technology, advanced design and manufacturing technologies, zero waste techniques in clothing manufacture.

Repair and maintenance

  • building conservation
  • product repair, alteration
  • condition monitoring, condition-based maintenance


Publications by members of the Sustainable Consumption Research Group are too numerous to list here and may be found by clicking above on the names of individual members of the group.

The group periodically holds seminars and presentations, examples are below:

Climate Change Showcase, December 2015

  • Professor Tim Cooper - Too much stuff: the impact of consumerism on climate change.
  • Dr. Amanda Smith - Urban energy transitions to low carbon futures: the case of Nottingham.
  • Dr. Lynn Oxborrow and Angharad McLaren - From Future Factory to clothing longevity.
  • Toby Tonkin - Monitoring environmental change with unmanned aerial vehicles: a case study from a high-Arctic glacier.
  • Carlos Abrahams - Extreme events and freshwater ecology.
  • Dr. Naomi Braithwaite - Turning waste into value: a Circular Economy approach to climate change mitigation.
  • Dr. Petra Molthan-Hill - Preparing for the climate change summit - insights from the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative.
  • Dr. Marianna Poberezhskaya - Communication and climate change: case study of Russia.
  • Dr. Mofakkarul Islam - Determinants of the uptake of renewable energy generation practices on UK farms.
  • Professor Amin Al-Habaibeh - The use of infrared thermography for the assessment of a building's insulation and energy performance.
  • Dr. Ben Taylor - Media technologies and e-waste.
  • Dr. Christine Cole - Climate change and the repair, reuse culture.
  • Dr. Jillian Labadz - Upland management for the reduction of carbon losses from peatlands.
  • Dr. Roy Smith - Existential threats and opportunities for the low lying atoll states of the Pacific.

Sustainable Lighting seminar, January 2014

  • Dr Jose Casamayor - Sustainable Lighting: The State of the Art
  • Daniel Shin - Human Powered Lighting: Using Human Power as a Battery Alternative in Portable Lighting
  • Philip Harfield - Eco-Innovation for Critical Materials in the Lighting Sector

Sustainable Materials seminar, December 2013

  • Martin Higginson - Sustainable Materials; the new agenda
  • Mariale Moreno and Giuseppe Salvia - Awareness of Embodied Carbon, Material Flows and the Climate Change Agenda

Related projects

Current projects

  • Centre for Industrial Materials, Energy and Products (CIE-MAP), RCUK/EPSRC, 2013-18

Completed projects

Still need help?

+44 (0)115 941 8418