press release
Published: 08 September 2021

Guildford Living Lab wins grant to educate children about climate change

Air pollution experts at the University of Surrey will be educating Guildford's children about how climate change affects their local area and what can be done to make their environment cleaner and greener.  

Air pollution experts at the University of Surrey will be educating Guildford's children about how climate change affects their local area and what can be done to make their environment cleaner and greener.  

The new outreach project is made possible thanks to a grant from the RSA Insurance Group via the business giving platform Neighbourly. The funding is part of the RSA's Climate Change and Education Grants programme.  

Surrey's renowned Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) will use the funding to launch Heat-Cool, a school outreach project that will use the citizen-science approach to educate young people on climate change and its impact on their health and the future of the planet.   

Through GCARE's Guildford Living Lab project, the team will conduct exercises with children that show the harmful impact of local heat sources (such as buildings and roads) and how these contribute to the Urban Heat Island effect, where built-up areas can be up to 10°C warmer than neighbouring rural areas. The team will work with schools and the community on measures to improve the air quality of their environment, such as planting more 'green infrastructure' like trees, bushes, and green walls.  

Guildford Living Lab is a platform for researchers at GCARE to work in partnership with the local community, schools and businesses on projects that will help improve air quality in the Guildford area. Recognising the decline in young people's interest in science subjects, GCARE also hopes that Heat-Cool will spark young people's interest in STEM. 

Professor Prashant Kumar, Dean International and Director of GCARE at the University of Surrey, said: 

"In light of the recent stark report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we must acknowledge that there is still much to do if we are to avert the cataclysmic effects of climate change. At the University of Surrey, we strongly believe in equipping future generations with accurate scientific knowledge to understand how climate change impacts not only the world but their local community and how to improve the health of our planet. 

"We are grateful to RSA Insurance Group and Neighbourly for their support on Heat-Cool, and we look forward to getting started on this hugely important project." 

Laura Spiers, Head of Social Impact and ESG at RSA Insurance, said:  

"Educating more people on the impact and risks of climate change is central to helping people better understand how we can improve the health of our planet and live more sustainable lives. Tackling climate change is incredibly important to us and, through our grant scheme, we're pleased to be supporting the University of Surrey's Heat-Cool project and the innovative way it engages local communities on the issue of the impact of extreme heat. By supporting this work and other similar projects, we hope our grants will help to drive positive change." 

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Note to editors 

The GCARE team is involved in a variety of projects in partnership with schools. These include: EPSRC COTRACE, NERC TAPAS Network and GAP/GSST Lambeth Schools.  

The GCARE team also has a number of projects to promote the use of green infrastructure and climate change. These include: EPSRC INHALE and H2020 OPENADUM.  

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