UCD leads €6m Horizon 2020 project to improve air quality in European cities

Posted October 13, 2016

  • iSCAPE aims to develop sustainable strategies to treat and reduce air pollution 
  • Study seeks to formulate policy interventions and implement behavioural change

Researchers at UCD will lead a consortium of international scientific institutions in a new €6m Horizon 2020-funded research project to improve the air quality of several European cities.

In the context of climate change, iSCAPE (Improving the Smart Control of Air Pollution in Europe) aims to develop sustainable strategies to treat and reduce air pollution in these cities and reduce their carbon footprint.

The results of the study will be used to inform policy interventions and implement behavioural change initiatives in this area.

The project is led by Dr Francesco Pilla, Lecturer at the UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy. iSCAPE has been awarded €6m in funding by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.

Cities account for roughly 70 per cent of global carbon emissions and are crucial in the fight against climate change.

iSCAPE seeks to advance the control of air quality and carbon emissions in Dublin, Innovation-City Ruhr, Germany, Lazzaretto, Bologna, Italy, Vantaa, Finland, Hasselt, Belgium, Bologna, Italy, and Guilford, UK.

Pictured: Dr Francesco Pilla, Lecturer at the UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, who will lead the iSCAPE project

Researchers will reduce air pollution in these cities’ urban spaces by using ‘Passive Control Systems’, such as trees, green urban spaces and green roofs, to disperse normal wind flow patterns and dilute pollutants.

iSCAPE will embrace the concept of “smart cities” and will have a particular focus on promoting the use of low-cost sensors in an attempt to engage citizens in the use of alternative solutions to environmental problems.

The scientists will carry out and measure the results of the research in ‘living labs’. Living labs are user-centred ecosystems, such as cities, where research and innovation processes are integrated within a public-private partnership involving the active contribution of the people living in the area.

The living labs will be used to foster innovation and showcase the products made by SMEs and iSCAPE’s academic partners, such as low-cost, high-quality air quality monitoring kits.

Citizens in living lab areas will, for example, be educated on the air quality monitoring kits, used to measure the effectiveness of the solutions implemented to improve air quality.

“The overall aim of iSCAPE is to develop and evaluate an integrated strategy for air pollution control in European cities grounded on evidence-based analysis,” said Dr Francesco Pilla.

“The project will develop the tools required to achieve an air pollution free/low carbon society by addressing air quality and climate change concerns together through the application of new smart and sustainable technologies for integration into urban design and guidelines.”

The project will also support sustainable urban development by promoting the sharing of results with policymakers and planners using local test-cases.

The other partners in the iSCAPE consortium are: Trinity College Dublin; Università de Bologna (Italy); University of Surrey (United Kingdom); Finnish Meteorological Institute (Finland); Transportation Research Institute, Hasselt, University (Belgium); Technische Universität Dortmund (Germany); EC Joint Research Centre - Institute for Environment & Sustainability (European Commission); Fab Lab Barcelona (Spain); T6 Ecosystems srl (Italy); Pureti Spain, S.L. (Spain); Future Cities Catapult Ltd. (United Kingdom); Dublin City Counicl (Ireland); Comune di Catania (Italy); Agenzia regionale per la prevenzione e l'ambiete dell' Emilia-Romagna (Italy).

By: Jamie Deasy, digital journalist, UCD University Relations