Research News

Study on effect of “green infrastructure” on urban air quality wins prestigious international prize

  • 25 March, 2024


An international team of researchers, including UCD’s Professor Francesco Pilla, has won the prestigious 2023 Haagen-Smit Prize for their groundbreaking air pollution research published in the renowned journal Atmospheric Environment. 

Francesco Pilla, Professor of Smart and Sustainable Cities in UCD’s School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy and his international colleagues were honoured with this esteemed award, recognising their exceptional contribution to the field of air pollution science.

The winning paper, titled "Air Pollution Abatement Performances of Green Infrastructure in Open Road and Built-Up Street Canyon Environments: A Review," was a collaborative effort led by Professor Prashant Kumar and his team from the University of Surrey's Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE)in the UK. It also involved experts from UCD, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USA), Trinity College Dublin and the University of Bologna (Italy).

Published in 2017, the study's findings have had a significant bearing on the understanding of the impact of urban green infrastructure (GI) and its effects on air quality and human health. This international collaboration has provided vital new insights into how GI reduces the impact of air pollution, addressing the pressing challenges of climate change and public health.

The research has also outlined best practices for its implementation to ensure optimal air quality and human health outcomes. This comprehensive approach has not only shaped research agendas but also influenced policy decisions at local, national, European, and global levels.

The paper has garnered significant attention within the scientific community and has amassed 791 citations so far. It has also been cited in over 20 policy documents, highlighting its real-world impact.

The paper's findings have been adopted in various policy documents and guidelines, including by the United Nations, European Commission, UK Parliament, and City Hall London. The impact of this work continues to shape the international discourse on our  urban spaces, the quality of the air we breathe, and how we use research to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Since 2001, the distinguished Haagen-Smit Award has been awarded to extraordinary individuals to recognise significant career accomplishments in at least one of these air quality and climate change categories: research, environmental policy, climate change science, science and technology, education, community service & environmental justice, and international leadership. The prize, which is highly regarded internationally, is administered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB).


This work is led by the University of Surrey's team as a part of the iSCAPE (Improving Smart Control of Air Pollution in Europe) project, which is funded by the European Community's H2020 Programme (H2020-SC5-04-2015) under the Grant Agreement No. 689954.

See here for more information in relation to this prestigious award.