Engineers to Improve Air Quality in European Cities with Living Labs

Posted on: 28 January 2016

Engineers from Trinity College Dublin will deploy next-gen environmental living labs in cities across Europe to improve air quality and reduce their carbon footprint.

The engineers, from the Department of Civil Structural and Environmental Engineering and the CONNECT Centre at Trinity, successfully secured a €6 million research grant as part of the Horizon 2020 Societal Challenges funding scheme to develop the iSCAPE (Improving the Smart Control of Air Pollution in Europe) project.

The engineering team will develop sustainable and passive air pollution remediation strategies, policy interventions and behavioural change initiatives between now and 2019.

Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering, Dr Francesco Pilla, is the overall coordinator, with Professors Brian Broderick, Aonghus McNabola and John Gallagher also involved. iSCAPE will start in the summer this year and finish after three years in 2019.

The iSCAPE project aims to integrate and advance the control of air quality and carbon emissions in the European cities of Dublin, Innovation-City Ruhr (Bottrop, Germany), Lazzaretto Bologna (Italy), Vantaa (Finland), Hasselt (Belgium), Bologna (Italy), and Guildford (United Kingdom) in the context of climate change through the development of sustainable and passive air pollution remediation strategies, policy interventions and behavioural change initiatives.

The project will tackle the problem of reducing air pollution at target receptors with an innovative SME-led approach, focusing on the use of “Passive Control Systems” in urban spaces.

Improvements in air quality, microclimate and behavioural aspects of urban dwellers will be achieved by applying real-world physical interventions on the urban tissue to alter ventilation rates and dispersion patterns in the selected cities assessed for future climate change scenarios and representative of different cultural and life styles in Europe.

Through the approach of Living Labs the team will deploy a network of air quality and meteorological sensors (both stationary and mobile) and evaluate through analysis and a suite of up-to-date numerical modelling the benefits expected from the interventions on a neighbourhood and city-wide scale for several aspects ranging from quantification of pollutant concentration to exposure.

Dr Pilla said: “iSCAPE encapsulates the concept of “smart cities” by promoting the use of low-cost sensors, and by engaging citizens in the use of alternative solution processes to environmental problems. iSCAPE will support sustainable urban development by promoting the sharing of results with policy-makers and planners using local test-cases, and providing scientific evidence ready-to-use solutions potentially leading to real-time operational interventions.”

“This integrated approach will include the development and assessment of a framework aimed at changing the mobility behaviour of people by studying processes and dynamics that lead to more resilient, healthy, and sustainable cities, by bringing together theory from urban planning, public policy, urban and environmental sociology and urban geography.”

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