UCL News


UCL Bartlett takes a LUCID look at climate change and urban planning

4 December 2006

A wide-ranging consortium led by Dr Mike Davies (UCL Bartlett) has won a grant of £1.

Dr Mike Davies 03 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop cutting-edge methods to calculate local temperature and air quality in the urban environment.

Researchers from the UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies will work with experts at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Awareness, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and academics at the universities of Reading and Brunel on the development of a Local Urban Climate model and its application to the Intelligent Development of cities (LUCID).

Building design and current temperature control technologies are under increasing pressure due to climate change. The longer, hotter summers experienced in the UK and the predicted four-degree rise in the South-East by 2080 means that overheating will become much more common in buildings. The growing frequency of summer days with temperatures above 30 degrees will lead to extreme temperatures on a regular basis, particularly in large urban areas. These 'urban heat islands' combined with a rise in humidity will limit the ability to cool buildings through natural ventilation. Turning to mechanical cooling systems instead will incur greater energy use.

Meteorologists, building scientists, urban modellers, planners, designers and epidemiologists will work together over the next three years on three core objectives to tackle these issues. They aim to develop a reliable 'weather forecast' model for the local urban environment. The team will then use the model to explore the relationships between the projected changes to the regional and local urban climate and the energy used in buildings. Finally they will evaluate the impact of local temperature and air quality on health.

"It's clear that the local character of the built environment can have a strong influence and generate a localised microclimate, which leads to variation in the strength of heat across a city," said Dr Mike Davies. "For example, green space and bodies of water interspersed in the urban landscape can substantially reduce undesirable impacts of buildings on the microclimate."

The research findings and tools generated by the LUCID project will be used to inform planning guidance to enable the transition from current practices to more sustainable urban communities.

Image: Dr Mike Davies, leader of the LUCID project