News & Events

Finalists of the 2020 UCD Research Impact Case Study Competition

Published: Tuesday, 09 March, 2021

The Earth Institute is delighted to recognize three members, Ainhoa Gonzalez, Jennifer Keenahan, and Francesco Pilla, who have been named finalists in the UCD Impact Case Study Competition for 2020! This annual competition encourages researchers from all backgrounds to submit a case study revealing how their work has made a positive impact.

Planning for sustainability through Environmental Sensitivity Mapping

Associate Professor Ainhoa Gonzalez, School of Geography

Ainhoa and her team developed a new Environmental Sensitivity Mapping tool to facilitate sustainable development in Ireland. The methodology and new tool have been routinely used by planning departments in the government, environmental consultancies, and NGOs to incorporate environmental considerations into the preparation of land-use development plans.  

‘The Environmental Sensitivity Mapping tool is a fantastic resource for the Local Authority sector particularly in informing pre-planning applications for major developments and also from a Forward Planning perspective where overall sensitivity is required to focus the direction of Plans and Strategies. It may actually provide a more sensitive and robust output to that of the standard approach.’

-Sheila Downes, Environmental Assessment Officer, Clare County Council

Protecting the built environment from the effects of wind

Assistant Professor Jennifer Keenahan, School of Civil Engineering

Since 2017, Jennifer has been training a team of researchers to undertake wind modelling using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), a new method that has been deemed more efficient and accurate than traditional methods. Jennifer is developing new policy regarding the treatment of wind in the built environment, which will improve infrastructure that is safer for society.

‘CFD presents a real opportunity to complement and enhance current practice and will aid our understanding of how structures behave under a myriad of wind loading conditions in a fast and cost-effective manner.’

Fergal Cahill, Transport Infrastructure Ireland

iSCAPE: improving the smart control of air pollution in Europe

Associate Professor Francesco Pilla, School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy

The iSCAPE project, led by Francesco, advanced the control of air quality and carbon emissions in European cities by identifying policy interventions, behaviour changes of citizens’ lifestyles, and ‘Passive Control Systems.’ The project involved citizens, environmental agencies, and policymakers to create nature-based and behavioural solutions to tackle air pollution.