Find out more about past living lab projects at the University of Surrey. These examples show partnerships between the University and external partners to resolve real-world challenges by integrating sustainability into the solutions.
What is a living lab?
A living lab is a live-testing approach that enables collaboration between a range of stakeholders at local, national or international level to address various challenges, often linked with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Examples of past projects
Walking and cycling are active travel forms, among the most sustainable ways of transport. Active travel as an alternative mode of transport has the potential to reduce a community’s carbon footprint, while simultaneously having direct health and wellbeing benefits for its residents. The Active Travel Project aimed to shed light on some of the key barriers and motivators of active travel within Surrey, whilst supporting local transport planning and policies by providing key contemporary evidence.
This project, led by Dr Nikolas Thomopoulos and Professor Birgitta Gatersleben, started in March 2021 as a collaboration between the University of Surrey Living Lab and the Surrey Climate Commission.
The area of Southway is characterised by a lack of high-quality green space, poor maintenance, fly-tipping, and high levels of air pollution. The goal is to improve quality of air, environment and life. Open workshops hosted throughout November 2022 identified and supported community champions to realise this goal.
Led by Dr Eleanor Ratcliffe, this is a collaboration between several University colleagues, Guildford Borough Council, local community support officers and residents in the Southway area of Guildford.
The UK Net Zero Carbon target is a bold commitment to reduce the UK’s green-house gas emissions, and will provide opportunities for new ‘clean’ businesses and improving the energy efficiency of homes and businesses. All UK local authorities have plans to support the transition to net zero. However, it is a stretching target, and reaching the most inefficient homes is proving challenging for many councils.
This collaborative research project is led by Dr Tom Roberts (Sociology) with Prof Ian Walker (University of Swansea) and Dr Chris Jones (University of Portsmouth), in partnership with climate change colleagues from Surrey County Council.
A significant amount of UK carbon emissions come from the production and processing of food. However, this is an area where consumers have little control over the environmental impact of the food they buy. The aim of this project was to raise awareness among staff and students at the University of Surrey of the environmental impact of food, and to run trials to analyse how greater awareness may change consumers’ behaviour and choices.
This project started as a student-led initiative and evolved into a Living Lab pilot project, led by Dr Lirong Liu. Key partners included the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, student representatives and staff at the Lakeside and Hillside cafes.
Led by Professor Prashant Kumar, Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE), Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. This is a Guildford Living Lab clean air project in collaboration with St Thomas Primary School, Merrow Residents’ association and GCARE.
The grant is helping to fund activities with the school and local community designed to enhance air quality around schools.
Led by Professor Richard Murphy, Centre for Environment and Sustainability. The grant is being used to fund a programme of Climate Emergency presentations being made by the Guildford Environmental Forum (GEF) to help Guildford residents to better tackle the climate emergency.
This research project is led by Professor Ravi Silva, Director of Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute, and Dr Mona Chitnis of the School of Economics. Funded by the Higher Education Innovation Fund, it runs from April 2020 to July 2020.
The project tackles the question of what will need to happen in the UK in order to achieve free, clean, equitable energy for all by 2035. Renewable and low carbon technologies are expected to be able to meet the world’s global energy demand in future, but how do we accelerate this transition?
The ‘at plug’ cost of solar power has come down dramatically over the last 20 years, and this trend is expected to continue.
This research project investigates the economic potential for solar power in the UK, and how we can move towards 'energy as a service'. By analysing the absolute cost associated with solar power (LCOE, NPV etc), the aim is to obtain evidence of the economic potential for 'free' solar power in the UK and be in a strong position to advise on long term energy policy.
Led by Dr Shimaa Elkomy, Centre for Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity, this Sustainability in Healthcare project studies the effects of the adoption of sustainability measures and energy efficiency measures on key outcomes of the Royal Surrey County Hospital in terms of terms of staff satisfaction, patients' evaluation and quality of treatment.
Led by Dr Nikolas Thomopoulos, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, this project is a collaboration with Surrey County Council and local SMEs.
The aim is to design and test the use of gamification and incentives to influence the travel behaviour of University students and staff. The objectives include reducing transport emissions and improving air quality and wellbeing by promoting active transport modes.
Led by Dr Ellie Ratcliffe, School of Psychology, Northwest (NW) Guildford 2030 is a collaborative project with the University’s Estates team which has been set up to help support the residents of north-west Guildford.
The grant is being used to engage with residents about the suggested improvements for their local area to address the impacts that poor maintenance, fly-tipping and high levels of air pollution is having on them.
Led Dr Yoo Ri Kim, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (SHTM), this project aims to investigate the consumer journey and behaviour through their preferences to promotional offers on Guildford High Street using the SHTM digital lab.
The project is being conducted in collaboration with VisitSurrey and Beanstalk Social Ltd, and a prototype of Beanstalk Social’s application, Mozee, will be designed and tested by potential consumers using biosensor and virtual reality equipment.
Led by Nicola Andreij Rieg, Centre for Environment and Sustainability, in collaboration with the University’s Estates and Facilities Management team and Human Resources team.
This project aims to investigate how staff attitudes to home working have changed during Covid-19, and to explore the opportunities for more flexible working in the longer term, in order to reduce work-related travel.
Led by Dr Andrew Viquerat, School of Mechanical Engineering Sciences, in collaboration with the University's Estates and Facilities Management team and start-up company IPFT.
This project investigates the use of the University campus as a test-bed for autonomous (robotic), conductive, electric vehicle (EV) charging technology. The study will explore solutions for the University’s own fleet as well as student, staff and visitor vehicles, examine requirements and constraints, and draw up a plan to meet future EV charging needs on campus.
Led by Dr Chris Jones, School of Psychology, this research project looks at ways of reducing vehicle commuting and problem parking behaviour, increasing home-working and embedding more sustainable travel behaviours among staff and students at the University of Surrey.
The project is a collaboration across Surrey including the Estates and Facilities Management team, the School of Psychology, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Centre for Environment and Sustainability and with external partners including SSE Enterprise.
The Global Home Demonstrator project is led by Dr Christopher Jones and is funded by Innovate UK. It builds on an existing collaboration set-up to develop a new approach to home production. The project aims to demonstrate Global Home’s state-of-the-art modular, smart (digitally enabled) home concept on the University campus.
The University is working with Global Home and its partners (including BuroHappold, Bouygues), to provide an interdisciplinary package of pre and post-occupancy evaluation studies. These will focus on physical issues such as managing air quality and energy efficiency, as well as social scientific studies of occupant behaviour and matters relating to data-sharing, informed/implied consent, etc.
The project, which is worth £8m, is running for 24 months from April 2020 to March 2022.
Set up in 2016, the Guildford Living Lab programme is led by Professor Prashant Kumar, founding Director of the Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) within the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
The Guildford Living Lab aims to enhance community health and wellbeing by bringing together researchers, community and stakeholders to co-create, co-design and co-implement solutions for air pollution and climate change mitigation.
This project is led by Professor Payam Barnaghi, Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing.
The Technology Integrated Healthcare Management (TIHM) for Dementia programme was an NHS England-supported study aimed at enabling clinicians to remotely monitor the health of people with dementia living at home.
After a successful trial with over 150 people with dementia and their carers from Surrey and North East Hampshire, the technology was certified as a medical device in March 2019.