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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J017698/1
Title: Transforming the Engineering of Cities to Deliver Societal and Planetary Wellbeing
Principal Investigator: Rogers, Professor CDF
Other Investigators:
Medda, Dr F Tyler, Professor N James, Professor PAB
Sadler, Professor J Dunn, Professor N Falkingham, Professor JC
Joffe, Professor H Bahaj, Professor AS Cooper OBE, Professor R
Urry, Distinguished Professor J Collins, Professor B
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Dr CT Boyko Professor MM Buchs Dr D V L Hunt
Dr R Lombardi
Project Partners:
Arup Group Ltd Baker Tilly British Geological Survey
CH2M HILL CH2M Hill (Halcrow) Chadwick Crawford Consultancy Ltd (CCC)
Cofely District Energy Ltd Costain DEGW
Department for Communities & Local Gov E.On Environmental Sustainability KTN
Geotechnics Limited Goddard Wybor Practice GWP Ltd Grontmij UK
Institute for Sustainability Isle of Wight Council Lancaster City Council
Lancaster University Network Rail SDRC Consulting Ltd
Southampton City Council The Work Foundation UCL
UK Water Industry Research Ltd University of Birmingham University of Southampton
Wilkinson Eyre Architects
Department: Civil Engineering
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Programme Grants
Starts: 01 May 2012 Ends: 31 December 2017 Value (£): 6,316,426
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Efficiency Urban & Land Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Construction Environment
Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 Mar 2012 Programme & Large Grant Interviews (8 March 2012) Eng Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
There is irrefutable evidence that the climate is changing. There also is strong evidence that this is largely a result of human activity, driven by our insatiable consumption of resources, growing populations, unsustainable migration patterns and rapid overdevelopment in cities that are resulting in heavy ecosystem services losses. Humankind's solutions to these problems do not always work, as many rely upon quantities of resources that simply do not exist or that could not support the rate of change that we are facing, behaviour changes that sit uneasily with our current consumption patterns and quality of life aspirations, and government policies that emphasise long-term sustainable gain but potential short-term economic loss for businesses and local people.

A radical revisioning of the problem is needed, not only to reverse current trends, but also to contribute positively to the sustainability and wellbeing of the planet, now and in the future. This proposal is that radical new vision, adopting a 'whole of government' focus to the changes needed in the ways that societies live, work, play and consume, balancing social aspirations against the necessary changes, and using CO2 emissions as a proxy measurement for the harm being done to the planet and the resources (particularly energy) that we use. Through the development of a city analysis methodology; engineering design criteria for quality of life and wellbeing; engineering design criteria for low carbon pathways and; radical engineering approaches, strategies and visioning-all generated in a multidisciplinary context-we aim to deliver a range of engineering solutions that are effective in sustaining civilised life, in an affordable and socially acceptable style.

Our vision is to transform the engineering of cities to deliver societal and planetary wellbeing within the context of low carbon living and resource security. We seek to prove that an alternative future with drastically reduced CO2 emissions is achievable in a socially acceptable manner, and to develop realistic and radical engineering solutions to achieve it. Certain techno-fixes for a low-carbon society have been known for some time (e.g., installing low energy appliances in homes), but are not always deemed successful, in part because they have not been deemed socially acceptable. Current aspirations for material consumption are driven by social factors and reinforced by social norms, yet recent research shows that meeting these aspirations often does not enhance wellbeing. Thus, the challenge the research community faces is to co-evolve the techno-fixes with people's aspirations, incorporating radical engineering strategies within the financial, policy/regulation and technical contexts, to re-define an alternative future. A roadmap is required to chart the path from here to there, identify potential tipping points and determine how to integrate radical engineering strategies into norms. However, this roadmap can only be considered once that alternative future has been established, and a 'back-casting' exercise carried out, to explore where the major barriers to change lie and where interventions are needed.

Our ambition is to create an holistic, integrated, truly multidisciplinary city analysis methodology that uniquely combines engineered solutions and quality-of-life indicators, accounts for social aspirations, is founded on an evidence base of trials of radical interventions in cities, and delivers the radical engineering solutions necessary to achieve our vision. We seek to achieve this ambition by using a variety of innovative and traditional approaches and methods to undertake five research challenges, which are outlined in detail in five technical annexes.

Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk