UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering Earth Day webinar

26 April 2023, 11:20 am–3:00 pm

Image of the earth

Join us online for the UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering celebration of Earth Day

Event Information

Open to







bseer-communications@ucl.ac.uk – The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment

Following Earth Day 2023, the Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering (IEDE) at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London (UCL), will be holding a webinar on 26 April 2023 (from 11.20am to 3:00pm – UK time) to highlight challenges for the built environment in the context of global climate change.

UCL IEDE pursues a deeper understanding of the interactions between the built environment and health, human wellbeing, energy use, and climate change. The IEDE Earth Day webinar will provide an opportunity to reflect on the steps that have been taken worldwide to mitigate climate change in the built environment sector, as well as on future pathways towards enhancing the climate resilience of our buildings, cities, and communities.

International experts in sustainable and healthy built environments will cover a wide range of topics on planetary and human health. The online talks will discuss state-of-the-art research on built environment policies for climate change mitigation, the impacts of urban environments on heat and air pollution exposure, population health and inequalities.

Speakers include:

Prof Takemi Sugiyama is professor at the Centre for Urban Transitions, Melbourne. His research explores the nexus between design and health. With his interdisciplinary background in architecture, urban design and behavioural epidemiology, he currently works on the following topics: urban design attributes facilitating adults’ active living; health impact of active and sedentary transport; and office design factors related to workers’ movement and interactions.

Talk title: 'Urban Environment and Health: How People Move across the City is Key.'

Talk abstract: Preventing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is a priority in many countries, since NCDs are a major burden to society. Health authorities now advocate for action on the ‘social determinants of health’, non-medical factors influencing people’s health outcomes, to reduce the burden of NCDs. City planning is one of the non-medical sectors relevant to public health. In this talk, I will discuss people’s daily movement in the city, which can be physically active or sedentary, as a key factor linking urban environments and health. I will present empirical evidence on the nexus between them and discuss potential strategies for transitions to healthy sustainable cities.

Prof Martin K. Patel is full professor (professeur ordinaire) at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, where he has been holding the Chair for Energy Efficiency since September 2013. His research deals with energy savings and emission reduction in industry, the built environment and at the interface between energy supply and energy demand (most notably including energy storage). 

Talk title: Experience with building-related policy measures - Energy efficiency programmes and bans

Talk abstract: Given the significant contribution of buildings to total final energy demand and to total CO2 emissions of countries in the Northern hemisphere, there is need for additional policy measures next to the prevailing building codes, minimum energy performance standards for components, building certificates and CO2 levies (where in place). This presentation discusses two policy measures which have been implemented in some countries, i.e. i) energy efficiency programmes and ii) bans on the replacement of oil and gas boilers. The experience made with these two policy measures in Switzerland is discussed, thereby addressing costs, subsidy levels as well as other features. While having their specific weaknesses next to their strengths, these policy measures are likely to gain importance within the policy portfolio, as recent developments in some countries indicate.

Prof David Sailor is a professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. At ASU he is the former leader in the development and maintenance of an Urban Climate Research Initiative. Prior to joining ASU Sailor was on the faculties of Tulane University (1993-2003) and Portland State University (2003-2015). He served as the Director of the South Central Regional Center of the National Institute for Global Environmental Change (NIGEC) at Tulane and was the founding director of the Green Building Research Laboratory at Portland State. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993 where he conducted research in collaboration with the Energy and Environment Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Talk title: Buildings and the urban thermal environment: can buildings passively cool cities?

Talk abstract: When considering buildings of the future, we tend to focus on energy efficiency. Sometimes we look beyond energy use to considerations such as embodied carbon, water use, and indoor environmental quality. This presentation will focus on an aspect of building performance that is generally left out of the conversation. Specifically, the fact that buildings interact with and warm the surrounding urban environment through a combination of heat emissions from energy use and air conditioning systems, as well as through heat transfer between the building envelope and the air the flows over exterior building surfaces. Recent research has suggested that urbanization’s impact on local microclimates (urban heat island effect) over the next 50 years may be on the same order of magnitude as the warming resulting from greenhouse gas (global) warming. Thus, the focus of this presentation will be on the question, can we build new infrastructure that acts to counter some of the effects of global warming by providing local passive cooling of cities. The answer lies in a combination of the efficiency of energy use within the building and the ability of exterior building surfaces to reflect the sun’s energy and reradiate their own thermal energy away from the city—ideally through the longwave atmospheric window. The presentation will address this question in the context of a broader discussion of the feedback mechanisms between buildings and the urban environment.

Prof Shelly Miller is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado. She is also an active faculty member of the interdisciplinary Environmental Engineering Program at CU. Her research interests lie in indoor air quality, health effects and exposure urban air pollution, and development and evaluation of air quality control measures. Dr. Miller’s research projects include engineering controls for reducing exposures to infectious diseases, source apportionment of ambient PM2.5 and association with health effects, association of coarse particles with health effects in urban and rural areas, urban industrial odors, characterization of environmental conditions in immigrant housing, characterizing ultrafine particles that penetrate into mechanically ventilated buildings, and bioaerosol characterization and control. 

Talk title: Urban Air Pollution in Disproportionately Impacted Communities

Talk abstract: Dr. Miller, professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder will discuss her research with communities in Denver Colorado that are disproportionately impacted by urban air pollution, including industrial odours, traffic and construction air pollution.

11.20am - 11.30pm

Opening remarks

11.30am - 12.20pm

Takemi Sugiyama

12.20 - 1.10pm

Martin Petal

1.10 - 2.00pm

Shelly Miller

2.00 - 2.50pm

David Sailor

2.50 - 3.00pm       

Closing remarks

The Zoom link for this event will be shared with those who register for a ticket here.


Photo credit: Pexels.com