Efficiency Leader with Wendy Miller 05 August 2021

The energy management sector is made up of many passionate professionals. 

In this month’s Efficiency Leader, we are profiling Dr Wendy Miller, Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Built Environment at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

One of Australia’s leading researchers on the intersection between the built environment and our rapidly transforming energy system, Wendy initiates and conducts industry and government funded socio-technical research in energy efficiency and renewable energy. She is an Australian representative on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Energy in Buildings and Communities (EBC) Annex 80 focusing on resilient cooling.

Wendy is passionate about the use of multidisciplinary research teams that embrace systems thinking and integration, including technology, people, and policy. Her current research projects include resilient cooling, living laboratories, electronic building passports, building regulation and compliance, natural ventilation, and indoor environment quality.

Can you explain your role at QUT? My role is Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Built Environment, Faculty of Engineering. My work includes conducting socio-technical research in buildings and energy as well as teaching in construction management.

What did you do prior to your current role? Prior to this role, I was a senior research fellow in mechanical engineering, exploring the same research areas but teaching sustainability units within undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees. I’ve also had previous roles in sustainable energy industry development, renewable energy technical education, classical music and music teaching. 

How would you describe the role QUT plays in the energy management market and Australia’s energy transition? QUT’s role is multi-faceted as it includes elements of what a research organisation does, for instance, studying clean energy technologies and transitions; QUT also provides tertiary education and trains future professionals in energy markets and technologies. Additionally, QUT is an organisation that demonstrates sustainability in action, with commitments to environmental sustainability and net zero by 2030.

What do you enjoy about working for QUT? I enjoy the opportunity my job provides to discuss ideas with colleagues, students and partners from diverse backgrounds and experiences, and the ability to contribute to evidence-based decision-making.

How has working from home been and how do you stay connected with your team when you aren’t in the office? I work from home 2-3 days per week where I enjoy the natural views from my home office; natural ventilation, and light, and not having to commute. I stay connected with my colleagues mostly via email, mobile phone, or video teleconferencing meetings.

How does Australia benefit from engaging in the International Energy Agency’s Energy in Buildings and Communities Program (IEA EBC)? This is one of few programs that explicitly acknowledges the significance of energy use in buildings. The main value, from my perspective, is two-fold: the connection with other countries that enables us to see beyond our own approaches to energy challenges; and the ability to address joint problems collectively, rather than in isolation.

How do you champion energy efficiency in your own home? 
Our family set our greenhouse gas emissions reduction target back in 1996, so we’ve had rooftop solar since 2000. Our home is net positive in terms of household stationary energy use, including water supply. We’re working on reducing the carbon footprint of our food and waste, as well as working towards EV capabilities.

When you’re not immersed in Australia’s energy transition, what do you do for fun? 
For relaxation, I really enjoy spending time in the garden. We’ve revitalised a cleared block to provide a natural habitat to a wide range of birds, animals; grow vegetables and fruit. We can harvest something from the garden almost all year round!

What are you currently excited about in the energy world and where do you see Australia’s energy management markets in 2030?
The democratisation of energy – where customers don’t have to be a passive ‘consumer’ but can actively participate as a generator, user, and trader of ‘green’ energy. I see a two-sided market where traditional ‘end users’ (particularly commercial and industrial customers and collectives of households) are proactively engaged in electricity generation, virtual power plants, network support services, and demand flexibility services

Connect with Wendy on LinkedIn.

Wendy joined EEC CEO Luke Mezel for a recent First Fuel podcast. You can listen here to find out more her work and how her background as a musician informs her research approach.

This article was originally published in the August edition of Efficiency Insight.