Emma Heffernan

Emma Heffernan


Emma works within the School of Architecture, Design and Environment at Plymouth University. Emma has recently completed her PhD entitled 'Delivering Zero Carbon Homes and sustainable communities: the potential for group self-build housing in England'. Her research was funded by the European Social Fund and focused on Cornwall, it was supported by two industry partners; Cornwall Council and Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust.   

Emma is an Associate Tutor within the School of Architecture, Design and Environment. She has experience as a dissertation module group leader for the third year undergraduate Architecture students. She has also supervised both undergraduate and postgraduate dissertation students within the Environmental Building Group, in which students are encouraged to develop a synergy between their research and that of their chosen supervisor.

Emma is a Chartered Architect and Urban Designer with over ten years' experience of working in practice. I have experience of working on a wide range of projects from inception to completion. She brings to her research extensive experience of planning, design and construction processes. 


2012-2015 PhD Architecture, Design and Environmental Building
Plymouth University, Plymouth

2007-2011 MA Urban Design
Pass with Distinction
University of the West of England, Bristol

2003 Professional Practice in Architecture
Pass with Merit
Southbank University, London

1998-2000 Post Graduate Diploma in Architecture
Pass with commendation in  Design Research
University of Brighton

1994-1997 BA(Hons) Architecture
Second Class Upper Division
University of Brighton

Prizes and Awards: 
Studentship for PhD 'Delivering zero carbon homes in Cornwall' from the European Social Fund through the Combined Universities in Cornwall (2012)
The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) South West Prize for best overall urban design student (2011)
Bursary for Masters Dissertation, University of the West of England (2009)
2nd Prize in the SEEBOARD low energy design competition (1997)
The Tunbridge Wells Chapter Prize for best first year portfolio in the RIBA South Eastern Region (1995)

Professional membership

Registered Architect with the Architects Registration Board (ARB) since 2003
Chartered Architect with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) since 2003
Associate Member of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) since 2014

Research interests

Emma’s research focuses on zero carbon homebuilding, sustainable communities, and group self-building using a social science approach. Her research explores the complexities of the housing industry and the potential for improving the quality and sustainability of homes and communities. Emma’s research interests also include the topics of fuel poverty, thermal comfort, and climate change adaptation in the context of housing.

Other research

Invited reviewer for Energy Policy
Invited reviewer for Urban Design International
Member of the Scientific committee for 1st International Conference on Zero Carbon Buildings Today and in the Future, Birmingham, UK, September 2014
Member of South West Women in Construction since 2012
Parent representative for Freshlings Nursery at Plymouth University since 2012
RIBA pre-assessor for South West Excellence in Architecture Awards 2012

Journal articles

, E., Pan, W., Liang, X. and de Wilde, P. (2015) 'Zero carbon homes: Perceptions from the UK construction industry'. Energy Policy, 79, pp. 23-36.

Heffernan, E., Heffernan, T. and Pan, W. (2014) 'The relationship between the quality of active frontages and public perceptions of public spaces'. Urban Design International, 19, pp. 92-102.


, E. E. (2015) Delivering zero carbon homes and sustainable communities: The potential of group self-build housing in England, PhD Thesis, Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK. Available at: https://pearl.plymouth.ac.uk/handle/10026.1/3429

Heffernan, E. (2011) Active Frontage and Public Space: Public Perceptions (Unpublished Masters dissertation) University of the West of England, Bristol, UK.


, E. (2013) Zero carbon homes: Perceptions from the housebuilding industry. Plymouth: Plymouth University.

Full report available at:  http://www1.plymouth.ac.uk/schools/ade/Research/EB/Documents/ZCH%20perceptions%20-%20final%20report%20-%20June13.pdf

Executive summary available at:  http://www1.plymouth.ac.uk/schools/ade/Research/EB/Documents/EH%20-%20ZCH%20Exec%20summary.pdf

Conference Papers

, E., Pan, W., Liang, X., and de Wilde, P. (2014) 'Group self-build housing: The potential to deliver zero carbon homes'. Zero Carbon Buildings Today and in the Future, 11-12 September 2014, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK.

Heffernan, E., Pan, W., Liang, X., and de Wilde, P. (2013) 'Redefining zero? A critical review of definitions of zero energy buildings and zero carbon homes'. CIBSE Technical Symposium, 11-12 April 2013, Liverpool, UK. London: CIBSE.

Available at:  http://www.cibse.org/content/cibsesymposium2013/paper006.pdf

Heffernan , E., Pan, W. and Liang, X. (2012) 'Delivering zero carbon homes in the UK' In: Smith, S.D (Ed) Procs 28th Annual ARCOM Conference, 3-5 September 2012, Edinburgh, UK, Association of Researchers in Construction Management, 1445-1454.

Available at:  http://www.arcom.ac.uk/-docs/proceedings/ar2012-1445-1454_Heffernan_Pan_Liang.pdf

Conference Presentations

, E. (2014) 'Reflections on Policy Delphi'. Unpublished conference paper at Methodological Innovations 2014, 09-10 December 2014, Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK
Heffernan, E. (2012) 'Delivering Zero Carbon Homes in the UK: A Cornish Perspective'. Oral presentation at the Postgraduate Society Annual Conference, Plymouth University, 26 June.