Climate change researchers win big grant

Thursday, 14 January 2010


A group of climate change experts, including two Oxford Brookes academics, has been awarded £640,000 to find ways of protecting suburbs against the effects of global warming.

A group of climate change experts, including two Oxford Brookes academics, has been awarded £640,000 to find ways of protecting suburbs against the effects of global warming.

Dr Rajat Gupta, Reader in Architecture and Climate Change in the Department of Architecture and Co-Director of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development-Architecture Group in the School of the Built Environment, is co-leading the consortium.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant will help the team come up with practical approaches to re-designing suburbs and help minimise the effects of flooding or rising temperatures.

Suburbs are the most common type of urban area in the UK – housing more than 80 per cent of the population.

The project will identify successful measures which both work and are also the most acceptable to communities. Six neighbourhoods from Oxford, Bristol and Stockport will be used as case studies.

Oxford Brookes will be working with the University of West of England, Heriot-Watt University and industry partners including consulting engineers ARUP, as well as researchers from overseas.

Smita Chandiwala from the Department of Architecture is a Research Fellow on the three-year project which is one of six (out of 45 short listed) funded under the £6 million Adaptation and Resilience to a Changing Climate (ARCC) scheme. In turn, that is part of the 10-year Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) programme.

The project will broaden the scope of Dr Gupta’s award-winning carbon-counting DECoRuM model ( /business-and-employers/collaboration-with-business/license-our-technology/decorum/).

DECoRuM will be able to evaluate the vulnerability of homes and neighbourhoods in the UK and look at their ability to adapt.

Modelling climate change and the possible results of suburban redesign through DECoRuM will help users visualise what adapted neighbourhoods could look like.

In this way, they can contribute in a practical way to a sustainable future for the UK's suburbs in the face of a changing climate.

Dr Gupta said the grant was a significant and timely contribution to this area of research.

“The project will provide more sophisticated and tested versions of DECoRuM, visualisation tools and pricing models to help decision-makers effectively manage and protect UK’s homes and communities against a changing climate,” he added.