Dr Charlotte Johnson

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The UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources (ISR) generates knowledge in the globally sustainable use of natural resources and trains the future leaders of this field. Our definition of resources is broad, and our research approach is equally inclusive, bringing together experts from across UCL. We are part of The Bartlett: UCL?s global faculty of the built environment.



Charlotte joined the Bartlett as a research associate in April 2013 to map UCL’s research expertise in urban sustainability.  In November she was awarded a Public Engagement Fellowship to study the role assigned to 'the public' in energy policy research.  During this Fellowship Charlotte developed collaborative research projects with local authorities and not-for-profit groups related to their sustainability priorities.  She joined the Engineering faculty in November 2015 and is now working on a number of projects across UCL Energy Institute and UCL CEGE that use ethnographic and qualitative research methods to look at infrastructure in the home.

Prior to joining UCL, Charlotte studied for a BA in anthropology and geography at UCL and then worked as a freelance filmmaker making advocacy films for international development NGOs. After seven years working on films in Africa, Asia and Europe for organisations such as UNV, Save the Children, Care International and VSO she returned to UCL to do an MRes in East European Studies. Through this she was able to shape her broad interest in economic development and social change to a specific engagement with politics of resource provisioning and urban development. 

Charlotte's PhD focused on energy and finance in Serbia. She carried out ethnographic research on the interaction between domestic space, urban infrastructure, socio-economic change in Belgrade.

As well as her academic engagement with sustainability she has policy research experience having worked on projects for DECC, DEFRA, the Scottish Government and the International Energy Agency.

Research Summary

Charlotte’s research focusses on urban infrastructure, energy, financialisiation and the material culture of the home. She draws on theories from anthropology, economic geography and STS to analyse the social relations that are produced through infrastructure.  Her particular interest is in urban decentralised energy systems like district heating and she has studied district heating in Serbia and the UK. 

As part of her Public Engagement Fellowship, Charlotte has been developing research projects in collaboration with public sector and community groups that support low carbon urban energy use. This includes working with residents and local authorities on new and established heat networks in London, as well as small scale community energy projects.  She is currently building a micro energy centre in the Olympic Park with a group of volunteers. It uses AD, wind and solar to provide heat, electricity and greywater to an off-grid community garden. 

Research outputs

Beyond academia – interrogating research impact in the Research Excellence Framework 2017 Terama E,Smallman M,Lock S,Johnson C,Austwick MRZ
Hacking london’s demolition decisions: a new collaboration to scrutinise the technical justifications for retrofit, refurbishment and demolition 2016 Crawford C,Bell SJ,Davies F,Johnson C,Joo S,Hayward S,Lee R
District heating as heterotopia: Tracing the social contract through domestic energy infrastructure in Pimlico, London 2016 Johnson CE
History, Memory and Everyday Environmentalism. The Case of New Belgrade 2015 Johnson CE,Milic N,Castan Broto V
An early evaluation of the 2050 Calculator international outreach programme 2015 Tomei J,Johnson C,Harries J,Kirsch F,Morrow I,Dodwell C
District heating: a hot idea whose time has come 2014 Johnson CE
Demolition or Refurbishment of Social Housing? A review of the evidence 2014 Crawford K,Johnson CE,Davies F,Sunyoung J,Bell S
PICKS : Exploring Post-Disciplinary Knowledge in a University ’ s Urban Sustainability Research Landscape 2014 Johnson C,Austwick MZ
Modernising Building Energy Codes 2013 Saheb Y,Saussay A,Johnson CE,Blyth A,Mishra A,Gueret T
Review of 'Belgrade: a Cultural and Literary History' by D. A Norris 2009 Johnson CE
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Research activities

AD in the garden: A participatory project to build a micro anaerobic digester in an East London community garden
Mapping cross disciplinary research interests in cities & resources at UCL
Public Engagement Fellowship
Refurbishment and Demolition of Social Housing in London
Vulnerable Customers and Energy Efficiency (VCEE)