Rihab Khalid is the 2020 Isaac Newton Trust Research Fellow at Lucy Cavendish College, and the Director of Studies in Architecture 2022-23 at Clare College, University of Cambridge. She will be affiliated with CRASSH during the period of her three-year fellowship.

I am an interdisciplinary researcher in sustainable energy consumption and demand management, focusing on socio-technical approaches to societal transitions. In particular, I am interested in the intersections of gender, energy infrastructure and space use in Pakistan and more broadly in the Global South. My work takes a multidisciplinary approach to understanding energy demand, amalgamating socio-cultural theories with more technically grounded understandings of consumption in the context of architectural and urban spaces. I am committed to problem-driven research to tackle societal challenges, and to improve energy efficiency and sufficiency to meet climate change targets through sustainable socio-technical transitions.

During my affiliation with CRASSH, I have been Co-I on the QR-GCRF project: ‘Gender equity and energy access in the Global South’, headed by the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University. The project aimed to investigate the links between what the UN Sustainable Development Goal of “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy” (SDG7) means to the professionals working on matters of energy access, and in particular what the implications are for gender equality (SDG5), in the Global South. Further information about the project can be found on their website. I was also part of the British Council’s Researcher Links Climate Challenge Workshop on Delivering a Sustainable Energy Transition for Pakistan. Through this workshop, I received grants for three separate research projects, in collaboration with universities in Pakistan, to investigate the socio-technical feasibility of Solar PV, Micro-Hydro Projects and Climate Change Adaptation strategies in Pakistan.

In the coming year, I will be working as Co-I on the UKERC Whole Systems Networking Fund (WSNF) project: Energy SHINES (Energy Social sciences and Humanities Insights for Non-Energy Sectors), in collaboration with the Global Sustainability Institute at Anglia Ruskin University. The project aims to address three gaps in knowledge development supporting transitions to net zero: 1) Diversifying evidence and insights used to inform energy transitions largely drawn from technical disciplines, by including insights from energy SSH; 2) Inclusion and participation of women, as technical disciplines are mostly dominated by men; and 3) A focus on non-energy sectors that play a vital role in energy systems and are an essential component for successful transitions to net zero. More information on the project can be found on their website.

As part of CRASSH, I have worked towards expanding the role and engagement of Social Science and Humanities (SSH) perspectives in energy policy and research. To date, energy studies and policy programmes have been dominated by Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. It is now recognised that a multidisciplinary approach is necessary to tackle global 21stcentury challenges such as those of energy demand reduction, energy justice and climate change mitigation. In this, the Arts, Humanities and the Social Sciences certainly have a greater role to play.


I obtained my PhD in Architecture at the University of Cambridge in 2020. My PhD thesis: ‘Socio-material constructs of domestic energy demand: Household and housing practices in Pakistan’ focused on addressing the gap in current domestic energy use studies in the Global South from a socio-technical perspective. Through my research, I identified various nexuses of practices and spatial arrangements of urban housing that have emerged, persisted and transformed over time, giving rise to unsustainable levels of electricity consumption in middle-class housing in Lahore, Pakistan. By combining theories from the social sciences with the knowledge of spatial agency in design, my study explored sustainability interventions in house design and use, as well as providing implications for housing and energy policy in Pakistan.


Peer-reviewed journal articles:

  • Schiffer, A., Greene, M., Khalid, R., Foulds, C., Vidal, C.A., Chatterjee, M., Dhar-Bhattacharjee, S., Edomah, N., Sule, O., Palit, D., Yesutanbul, A.N., 2022. Brokering Gender Empowerment in Energy Access in the Global South. Build. Cities 3, 619–637.
  • Alda-Vidal, C., Khalid, R., Foulds, C., Royston, S., Greene, M., (submitted Dec 21, under review). Gender imaginaries in energy transitions: How professionals construct and envision gender equity in energy access in the Global South. World Development. (Joint lead-authorship)
  • Khalid, R., Razem, M., 2022. The nexus of gendered practices, energy, and space use: A comparative study of middleclass housing in Pakistan and Jordan. Energy Res. Soc. Sci. 83, 102340.
  • Sharmin, T., Khalid, R., 2021. Post Occupancy and Participatory Design Evaluation of a Marginalized Low-Income Settlement in Ahmedabad, India. Building Research & Information 0(0):1–21.
  • Khalid, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2020. Housing and household practices: Practice-based sustainability interventions for low-energy houses in Lahore, Pakistan. Energy Sustain. Dev. 54, 148–163.
  • Khalid, R., Christensen, T.H., Gram-Hanssen, K., Friis, F., 2019. Time-shifting laundry practices in a smart grid perspective: a cross-cultural analysis of Pakistani and Danish middle-class households. Energy Efficiency.
  • Khalid, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2018. Evolving houses, demanding practices: A case of rising electricity consumption of the middle class in Pakistan. Building and Environment 143, 293–305.
  • Khalid, R., Sunikka-Blank, M., 2017. Homely social practices, uncanny electricity demands: Class, culture and material dynamics in Pakistan. Energy Research & Social Science 34, 122–131.

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Tel: +44 1223 766886