How do we address energy consumption to meet low carbon targets? How do we address infrastructure ‘lock in’ to improve the carbon performance of the urban environment? How do we engender and embed low carbon pathways and engineering solutions for demand reduction and power generation in cities?
Launched in 2012, Liveable Cities is a five year £6.2m research programme jointly between the Universities of Southampton, Birmingham (lead), UCL and Lancaster. It has the ambitious aim of transforming “the engineering of cities to deliver global and societal wellbeing within the context of low carbon living and resource security through developing realistic and radical engineering that demonstrates the concept of an alternative future.” In concrete terms, this means assessing where cities are today, where we need to get to by 2050 in order to meet carbon reduction targets, how this might change under different scenarios and what might happen to people’s wellbeing in the process.
Liveable Cities is a programme grant, which means that it is designed to support a range of research activities arranged around a central theme, in this case low carbon cities. Unlike smaller research grants which are focussed on specific objectives, a programme grant is more flexible and the individual research components will evolve over the five-year period.
The figure on the right shows how the different components of the project to be investigated by SERG in collaboration with the other partners fit into the project as a whole. A baseline study will characterize the energy performance of the target cities over a range of scales (1), integrated within a GIS platform, looking holistically at building and transport emissions (2 and 3). The baseline analysis will inform targeted case studies (4) engineers working in tandem with social scientists will assess how people behave in response to technological solutions and whether it has a positive or negative impact on their wellbeing (5) the technological solutions will be tested for acceptability (6) with interested parties, including, for example, local government. This will lead to a body of evidence (7) which will, in turn, inform revised technological solutions and finally policy guidance for transforming cities by 2050.
The research will be carried out by a team from Engineering and the Environment’s Sustainable Energy Research Group, working together with researchers from Social Sciences.
Following the Liveable Cities meetings in Southampton and in Lancaster, the rezoning of the city theme is to initially focus on the area around the West bank of the River Itchen. This is a highly deprived, industrial area of the city which contains a number of Wharves and St. Mary’s Stadium (home ground of Southampton Football Club).
Below is a video produced by Southampton City Council with bird’s eye view of the entire rezoning area.
Results and publications
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