A Use Less Future

Our basis in engineering allows us to identify possible interventions and make connections which will enable a low carbon future.


We are a multiplinary centre of research and can therefore take a holistic approach to material efficiency. The future is about making connections between policy, economy, engineering, behaviour and strategy. 

Our aim is to deliver new technologies, evidence and analysis to stimulate and enable a transition towards a more sustainable future in which we use less resources. Our work has led to several patented processes, two spin-out companies, a high profile book, and a vision that is stimulating transformative dialogue in industry and policy in the UK and internationally.

More than 20 researchers, spanning a wide range of disciplines, are pursuing a diverse range of projects under three main themes:

Across all themes, our priority is finding new ways to use less resources to support great lives. But we aren’t dreamers, protesters or preachers. We’re involved in the process of change. The technology, system and policy changes we’re pursuing are practical, are big enough to make a significant difference, and can be implemented in reality.

Our work spans the material and energy industries, the construction, equipment, automotive and clothing sectors. Our whole systems analysis shows, in a compelling and visual way, how innovations in technology, business and policy practices can reduce global greenhouse gas emissions on a large scale by:

  • changing product designs (such as designing steel beams which can be deconstructed for reuse, rather than demolised and sent to landfill)
  • reducing losses during manufacturing (for example, innovating processes to cast aluminium in a way which shapes the metal and avoids parts being cut off and sent back to the start of its thermodynamically intensive lifecycle)
  • re-using waste materials, products and product components (increasing the lifespan of products such as fridges by reusing functioning components rather than discarding, as seen in this paper)
  • using products more intensively and for longer (analysed in our paper on 'Product Life Trade-offs')