Published: 04 July 2023

Heat-Cool workshop: How do Guildford’s buildings and green spaces heat and cool our town?

Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) extended its ‘Heat-Cool’ initiative with a climate literacy workshop for adults on 10 June in collaboration with Zero Carbon Guildford.

Originally designed for primary and secondary school students, Heat-Cool aims to increase people’s knowledge of how energy heats and cools our planet. The two-hour workshop – delivered by GCARE’s Guildford Living Lab team – brought this initiative to adults for the first time, focusing on climate change-related drivers and impacts which contribute to ‘urban heat islands’, and the mitigation measures we can all help to put in place.

Participants took part in a series of fun activities and engaging learning experiences, using a citizen science approach. They were divided into four groups – climate warriors, climate titans, climate challengers and climate protectors – with each group embarking on an interactive journey through the streets of Guildford, armed with a high-tech thermal imaging device to measure heat and cool around the town. This hands-on activity enabled them to witness first-hand the temperature differences between urbanised areas and green spaces.

They also engaged in lively discussions about the causes and consequences of heatwaves, sharing ideas and strategies to mitigate their impact. A highlight of the workshop was a thermal camera photography competition: each group of participants put forward their best thermal image that showcased the stark contrast between heat-absorbing surfaces and cooler areas.

Professor Prashant Kumar, Founding Director of GCARE, said: “Initially, I designed the Heat-Cool programme with my team for the school children. Seeing its success and that it enhanced the understanding of over 80 per cent of children who participated in the programme encouraged us to adopt it for adults for the first time.

“It was so pleasing to see that the workshop fostered the community engagement and empowered participants with a deeper understanding of urban heating, which is an ever-growing challenge for our cities. As Guildford continues its journey towards a greener and more sustainable future, events like Heat-Cool can play a crucial role in empowering communities to take meaningful steps in mitigating the urban heat island effect.”

Researcher Jeetendra Sahani, who ran the workshop, added “Through thermal cameras, we brought the invisible world of heat and cool into focus. Our event ignited curiosity, deepened understanding, and sparked a collective commitment to a sustainable future. Together, we captured the heating and cooling aspects of the planet, and inspired change”.

Steph Bleach of Zero said “It's so encouraging to see the brilliant work from GCARE and the University of Surrey being put into action in our town centre. Offering people the opportunity to understand how their town can be affected by global warming and then empowering them with the knowledge and tools to take action, is exactly why we created Zero Carbon Guildford. We're here to collaborate with local organisations and empower local citizens to make behavioural changes that will improve the area in which we live.”

The event was hosted and co-organised by Zero Carbon Guildford and supported by the Ove Arup Foundation, LivGBGI (a project funded by the RECLAIM Network Plus) and GreenCities.


Discover more about GCARE and Guildford Living Lab.

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