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- Small Grants Results
- UCL: A Green Academy
UCL GCSC: Projects
Current GCSC projects
The UCL London 2062 project aims to gather evidence about the forces and factors that shape London and to identify points of debate and decision regarding what the city might be five decades from now. This process involves synthesising the diverse expertise within the academic community at UCL and elsewhere, together with London’s citizens, government, professions, artists, media and other public institutions.
Sustainable Resources for Sustainable Cities Catalyst Grants
The UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources and UCL Grand Challenge for Sustainable Cities have awarded five £5,000 catalyst grants as part of the 2013 BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities/UCL Grand Challenges Symposium.
Catalyst Grants are aimed at enabling researchers to develop realistic and relevant research partnerships across disciplines, and research strategies with the potential for significant national or international impact. These grants are designed to facilitate the development of projects which have the potential to produce on-going research activity.
The winners of the 2013 Catalyst Grants are as follows:
- Professor Jennifer Robinson (Geography)
Global Urbanism is a new approach in urban studies which is currently receiving widespread interest. The profoundly globalised nature of all urban processes press at the borders of urban theory and the very definition of the city.
Driven in part by changes in global urbanisation, including the growth and rise to prominence of cities across South and East Asia, and the growing developmental challenges represented by urbanisation in some of the poorest regions of the world (notably sub-Saharan Africa). Simultaneously, the demands for more sustainable urbanism as well as the post-financial crisis fiscal austerity in economically advanced countries, the consequences of democratisation and the devolution of urban governance in post-authoritarian South America have equally placed the urban question more firmly on the global agenda.
UCL has an exceptional concentration of expertise on these issues – for example, the Bartlett’s China Research Group leading in urban studies in the Asian context, and the Development Planning Unit concentrates expertise in South America, South Asia and Africa. There are no other comparable centres of global urban scholarship in the UK; internationally it is hard to think of a competitor in size and scope. This mapping exercise aims to increase UCL’s visibility in the international scholarly community.
- Ben Campkin (Bartlett: Architecture)
- Rebecca Ross (Central Saint Martins)
Radical pamphleteering and experimental publication traditions have historically had an important function in stimulating discourse about new understandings and uses of the built environment.
Each illustrated pamphlet in this series will creatively collate and present expert voices, across disciplines, professions, and community groups, around one pressing contemporary urban challenge.
|Future / Smart Cities — Download Issue 1|
|Defensible space/Secured by design|
Complexities and difficult questions will be drawn out and confronted from diverse perspectives, in a direct and accessible, but not reductive or didactic, tone. The editors will maintain an independent stance, ensuring each pamphlet represents a balanced range of approaches, arguments, evidence, and examples.
Current Small Grants
Academic Year 2013/14
- Dr David Shipworth (UCL Energy Institute)
- Dr Stephen Hailes (Computer Science)
- Gesche Huebner (UCL Energy Institute)
- Stephanie Gauthier (UCL Energy Institute)
The ‘Hue-Heat Hypothesis’ states that light waves with wavelengths predominantly of the red end of the wavelength spectrum are felt as warm and those toward the blue end as cool(er). Manipulation of the light colour could hence be a powerful tool for energy-saving in buildings if temperatures could be lowered under a reddish illumination in the heating season, or, conversely, be kept higher under bluish illumination in air-conditioned buildings.
The potential of energy savings through changes in illumination are large: We spend about 20 hours per day indoors, often under artificial illumination, and most carbon emissions are created through space heating.
- Dr. Andy Chow (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr. Fuzhan Nasiri (The Bartlett School of Planning)
- Dr. Afzal Siddiqui (Statistical Science)
The resilience of our infrastructure should be a critical concern in planning and policy making. Infrastructure systems play a vital in sustaining urban areas and our economy: it is crucial to ensure adequate roads, public transport, power, and clean water at all times.
The vulnerability of infrastructure was demonstrated by the Fukushima earthquake in 2011. and closer to home during sever spells of winter weather in December 2010 and January 2013.
If we are to make the transition to a more sustainable economy and built environment, then we require improved policy making tools for infrastructure planning.
Infrastructure resilience is a complex and multidisciplinary issue. Two major shortcomings in current infrastructure assessment and management are: 1) failure of capturing the interdependence between different system components; 2) failure of capturing the responses of humans to infrastructure disruptions. This pilot study aims to bring together experts from different disciplines, gain deeper insight into infrastructure resilience from a multidisciplinary perspective, and identify future research activities.
Disturbed and disrupted: the impact of floods on mobility and consequences for health and wellbeing in cities
- Dr Nicola Christie (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr Liza Griffin (Development Planning Unit)
- Dr. Helena Titheridge (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
The UK summer floods in 2007 affected over 55,000 homes and 6,000 businesses and saw the greatest number of search-and-rescue missions in this country since the Second World War (Marsh and Hannaford, 2007). Flood events are likely to become more frequent as a result of floodplain development, climate change and sea level rise (Environment Agency, 2007; Pitt, 2008).
It is estimated that 1.7m homes and 130,000 commercial properties are at risk from river or coastal flooding in England and many more are at risk from flash floods. Floods cause widespread disruption to transport and peoples mobility with a disproportionate effect on vulnerable members of communities. The Pitt Report (2008) reflected on the need to create resilient communities by helping them prepare, respond and adapt in the aftermath of floods and facilitate ‘recovery’. The Government now seeks to promote community resilience, defined as“Communities and individuals harnessing local resources and expertise to help themselves in an emergency, in a way that complements the response of the emergency services.” (Strategic National Framework on Community Resilience. London: Cabinet Office, 2011 p4). Regaining mobility is a key part of a community’s ‘recovery’. However, research has tended to focus on quantitative analysis of trip patterns from a transport modelling perspective and not the lived experience of people. There is a dearth of research exploring people’s experiences of flood related mobility problems and their impact on health and wellbeing.
This project aims to carry out in-depth qualitative research to explore the experiences of people who have experienced flood events to understand impacts on mobility, health and wellbeing. It will explore strategies people and communities use to prepare, respond and adapt their mobility and to what extent frontline services, emergency planning officers facilitate resilience.
- Dr Anna Mavrogianni (The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)
- Dr Catalina Spataru (UCL Energy Institute)
Building air permeability is the uncontrolled leakage of outside air into the building space. This can occur at numerous points: through cracks, gaps around doors and windows, as well as through the roof, floor and gaps around pipes and ducts. Air can also leak through porous construction materials such as brick or blocks.
Air leakage through the building envelope contributes to ventilation, heating and cooling costs and has an impact on moisture migration and indoor air quality. Air change currently accounts for approximately 35% of total space conditioning energy used in buildings in the domestic and non-domestic building stock in the UK. Leakier homes are, thus, characterised by higher space heating needs and, as a consequence, higher CO2 emissions.
This project aims to initiate new research cooperation to support the development of multidisciplinary techniques to critically review air permeability in dwellings in the UK and collate the existing evidence on the building fabric permeability levels into a comprehensive database that facilitates in depth analysis. Due to the current plans for decarbonisation of the national energy grid, the energy infrastructure will soon experience major changes. However, more than 60% of the approximately 26 million existing dwellings will still be standing in 2050. It is necessary to effectively adopt strategies to improve the energy efficiency of the existing building stock.
- Dr Luiza Campos (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr Graham Woodgate (Institute of the Americas)
- Dr Paola Lettieri (Chemical Engineering)
- Ilan Adler (PhD Student, Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Marco Lizzul (EngD student, Centre for Urban Sustainability & Resilience)
- Professor Nicos Ladommatos (Mechanical Engineering)
- Dr Paul Hellier (Mechanical Engineering)
- Dr Will McDowall (Energy Institute)
- BioBolsa. Mexican company that manufactures the bio-digesters.
- Hackney City Farm, London
- Surrey Docks Farm, London
London produces approximately 1.3 million tonnes of organic waste per year. The application of anaerobic digestion is one of the most promising ways to reduce the impact this waste has upon the environment. However, there are considerable problems with many conventional anaerobic digester systems, particularly regarding cost effectiveness and affordability at smaller scale.
The project aims to show that these low cost bio digesters can be used to treat organic waste within urban areas, with the benefit of reducing CO2 emissions from refuse collection vehicles. The digester also adds value to the waste treatment process by simultaneously producing biogas for combustion and liquid fertiliser for use by the farm and local gardeners.
- Dr Camillo Boano (Development Planning Unit)
- Dr Kate Crawford (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Alison Killing (Killing Architects)
- Brent Pilkey (Bartlett School of Architecture)
This research will build on a RIBA Research Trust funded project called (re)constructing the city, which Kate Crawford and Alison Killing completed earlier this year and which looked at the difficulties that humanitarians and urbanists have in trying to work together.
The original research captured the problems that humanitarians and urbanists faced in working together to reconstruct urban areas after disaster, though an analysis of neighbourhood reconstruction projects in post-earthquake Haiti. These challenges were presented and reviewed at a final workshop with practitioners and were found to originate in fundamental conflicts in the guiding philosophies and different professional organisational structures of urbanists and humanitarians and in the ways that the two groups conceive, imagine and operate in urban space.
This research brings an anthropological perspective to this research, through the critical analysis of workshop transcripts.
Academic Year 2012/13
The suburban food basket: the role of spatial setting and social context in providing access to healthy food
- Dr Shaun Scholes (Health and Social Surveys Group, UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health)
- Professor Laura Vaughan (Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)
- Dr Jennifer Mindell (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health)
- Dr Angela Donkin (UCL Institute of Health Equity)
Food-related ill-health in the UK is responsible for about 10% of deaths and illnesses and costs the NHS an estimated £6 billion annually. Money, transport, the availability of healthy food, cooking facilities and knowledge and skills all affect people’s ability to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
This study aims to involve secondary school pupils in understanding and evaluating the issues which influence our diet, and define a ‘healthy food basket’ which is appropriate for different social and cultural groups. The project will also survey students to identify how often healthy food items are bought and how easy it is to buy healthy food in their local communities.
A paper describing the pilot study, the main findings, and methodological lessons learned will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. The project team will also present the findings at a year 10/11 (GCSE cohort) assembly (or support pupils in doing so) to inform students of academic research as a potential career option.
- Dr. Catalina Spataru (UCL Energy Institute)
- Dr. Hervé Borrion (Department of Security and Crime Science)
- Dr. Ivan Wall (Department of Biochemical Engineering)
- Prof. Perry Elliott, (Young Institute of Cardiovascular Science)
- Dr. Pier Lambiase (Cardiology Department Heart Hospital)
This project aims to develop new techniques for managing the risk of power blackouts in emerging energy grids. Healthcare, security and financial systems across the world depend on reliable power supplies, which are vulnerable to disturbance from natural hazards and technological failure.
This project aims to understand how complex systems react to disturbances, to support improved forecasting and contingency planning by drawing on power engineering, energy, mathematics, medicine, operational research and security, to develop new approaches to modelling power blackouts.
Two workshops with experts from a range of different disciplines will enable us to understand why systems fail and what we can learn from different systems. Collaborators will co-author a research paper aimed at wider academic dissemination.
- Dr Emily Morris (Institute of the Americas)
- Dr Julio Davila (Development Planning Unit)
- Prof. Nick Tyler (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr Juan Llanes Guerra (Centro de Estudios del Medio Ambiente (CEMA), University of Havana)
- Antonio Villasol (Ministerio del Transporte)
The aim of the project is to design and assess alternative transport strategies for Havana. The project will consider the most efficient modes of transport for people and goods, and the role of transport in promoting public health, reducing CO2 emissions, reducing import dependency and creating a safer and more liveable city.
The project will highlight Havana’s need for a climate-friendly transport strategy by strengthening collaboration between UCL-based researchers with the aim of influencing changes in urban transport policy in Havana. The participation of a researcher from Havana University’s Centro de Estudios del Medio Ambiente (Centre for Environmental Studies) and confirmed interest of the Cuban Ministry of Transport means not only that UCL research collaborators will have unique access to the information on Havana’s transport challenge, objectives and constraints required to refine the research question, but also that the work can feed directly into policy-making in Cuba.
- Dr Stephen Marshall (Bartlett School of Planning)
- Prof Nick Tyler (Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering)
- Dr Catherine Holloway (Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering)
- Prof Michael Batty (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis)
- Dr James Cheshire (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis)
The ‘City for Human Locomotion’ is the vision of an urban environment designed to expedite travel on foot, by bicycle, wheelchair and other human-powered modes (rollerblades, skateboards, scooters, etc.).
Currently there is a vicious circle whereby the lack of knowledge about the full potential for human-powered modes leads to a lack of provision; this discourages use of these modes; and their invisibility hinders the political will to cater for their use. This situation could be turned around, if we could assemble and integrate more knowledge on all these fronts.
The primary aim is to assemble baseline knowledge about the different human-powered modes, especially those about which less is known (e.g. wheelchair use, rollerblades, skateboards, etc.), their potential conflicts and synergies, and their potential roles in a sustainable ‘city for human locomotion’; hence to gauge the potential for where future research would best be directed.
|Bartlett news story about Cities for Human Locomotion|
- Prof. Susan Michie (Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology)
- Richard Jackson (UCL Estates)
- Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
- UCL Human Resources
- UCL Union
Our study will bring together environmental expertise and behavioural science to investigate how people can be encouraged to reduce the amount of waste they produce, choose reusable rather than disposable products, and recycle their rubbish.
The study will investigate current waste trends and a survey to understand the factors that affect our likelihood to recycle or throw away our rubbish. This will be the basis of co-designing a prototype intervention with a building users group established for this purpose. This study will produce a prototype intervention, outcome measures and a building users group that is planned to lead to a subsequent pilot of implementing the intervention and evaluating its impact in a controlled trial to pilot the methods and feasibility of a controlled trial and methods for measuring the impact of the intervention.
Explore previous GCSC projects
View the Outcomes section of the GCSC website for more detail on project outputs, including previous small grants.
To mark the mid-point of the international decade of ‘Water for Life’ and the last five years of the Millennium Development Goals, the UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities held a public panel discussion and an expert symposium on the topic of urban water poverty. A range of perspectives were published in a special issue of the ‘International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development’.
A report by Dr Laura Vaughan (UCL Bartlett School of
Graduate Studies), Beyond the Ghetto – An interdisciplinary perspective on
patterns of ethnicity in the built environment, has been published to mark UCL
"The Commission ... proposes a new approach to the analysis and promotion of urban health, one that recognises the uniqueness and complexity of cities."
Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet
Following the first UCL-Lancet Commission on the Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change (published in The Lancet on 16 May 2009), UCL and The Lancet are collaborating again on a second Commission report.
The Healthy Cities Commission is a UCL Grand Challenge on Sustainable Cities project on the role that urban planning can and should play in delivering health improvements through reshaping the urban fabric of our cities. The project has involved 19 academics and students from a variety of disciplines led by Yvonne Rydin, Professor of Planning Environment and Public Policy in the UCL Bartlett School of Planning.
- Read the Commission's report, Shaping Cities for Health: the Complexity of Planning Urban Environments in the 21st Century.
- Read the Lancet editorial
UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities Healthy Cities Commission
Abstract from GCSC Healthy Cities Commission report
With almost thirty years experience from the Healthy Cities movement, we are increasingly aware of the features that transform a city into a healthy one. What is less well understood is how to deliver the potential health benefits and how to ensure that they reach all citizens in urban contexts across the world. This is an increasingly important task given that the majority of the world’s population already live in cities and that, with current high rates of urbanisation; many millions more will soon do so. We provide an analysis of how health outcomes are part of the complexity of urban processes, arguing against the assumption that urban health outcomes will improve with economic growth and demographic change. Instead, we highlight the role that urban planning can and should play in delivering health improvements through reshaping the urban fabric of our cities. We consider this through case studies of sanitation and wastewater management, urban mobility, building standards, the urban heat island effect and urban agriculture. We follow this with a discussion of the implications of a complexity approach for planning of urban environments, emphasising project-based experimentation and evaluation leading to self-reflection and dialogue.
- Cities are complex systems, so that health outcomes are emergent properties
- The urban advantage in health outcomes has to be actively promoted and maintained
- Inequalities in health outcomes should be recognised at the urban scale
- A linear or cyclical planning approach is insufficient in conditions of complexity
- Urban planning for health needs to emphasise experimentation through projects
- Evaluation leading to dialogue between stakeholders and self-reflection is essential
This is an abstract of a report submitted in February 2012 for publication in The Lancet.
The Carbon Governance Project aims to provide a new insight into the approach necessary to address human-induced climate change. The project explores the governance actions necessary to limit future human carbon emissions whilst recognising that the use of carbon must meet the Millennium Development Goals, maintain global social and economic stability and achieve a transition to a low-carbon economy and a sustainable energy supply for the long-term future.
It encompasses three sub-projects:
The project involves academics from Earth Sciences, Geography, Laws, Energy Institute, SEESS, Development Planning Unit, School of Public Policy; Science and Technology Studies, Geography, and Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology.
Page last modified on 18 jul 13 10:11