Residents and University join forces to make Guildford greener
The University of Surrey has enlisted the support of Guildford residents and the local council to help tackle the current and future effects of air pollution on the town.
In a series of community events, the team from the University’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) has worked with community groups such as Burpham Community Association, Guildford Labour Party and Guildford Vision Group to run interactive workshops to raise awareness of air pollution and, crucially, to co-develop ideas that will help reduce air pollution exposure in local communities.
At the local events, a wide range of citizens were given Smart Citizen kits to perform experiments within their communities and help GCARE add further value to its world-class pollution research. The events and the kits allowed residents to identify problem pollution areas near schools, playgrounds, hospitals and beside busy roadsides, where the use of green infrastructure, such as hedges, could benefit air quality.
One resident used their kit to decide where in their house they should setup an office. The resident conducted their study and monitored air quality on the ground and first floor of their home – with results suggesting air quality was better in the latter. Another resident found that it took 10 hours for the air quality in their kitchen to improve after they burnt their food. All results from the resident studies can be found at: https://smartcitizen.me/kits/ (zoom map to Guildford).
These local events were organised under the umbrella of the iSCAPE project, part of the Guildford Living Lab, which is a platform for raising citizens’ awareness about air pollution issues and the use of green infrastructure to improve health and wellbeing.
Professor Prashant Kumar, Director of the Global Centre for Clean Air Research, said: “What has been very clear and heartening from our iSCAPE events has been how well informed and passionate Guildford residents are about air pollution. It is clear that residents love their community and we were floored by the number of workable ideas that came from the workshops – including the application of roadside green infrastructure as a passive pollution control measure.
“We will be looking to carry out as many of these events as possible and we will be working with our partners and the local authorities to help make sure they can benefit from the air pollution research we are carry out at GCARE in the near future.”
Tony Teal, the former Chairman of the Burpham Community Association, said: “I want to express my thanks to Professor Kumar and his team for the excellent air pollution workshop. It was informative, timely and -- dare I say -- entertaining. The co-creation activity was focussed on the concerns of residents and allowed active participation by all. I feel sure this event has not only helped bring the University and local residents closer together but also now provides us with an opportunity for utilising research findings in real-world practice and take such studies forward in a jointly cooperative way.”
Cllr Graham Ellwood, Lead Guildford Borough Councillor for Licensing, Environmental Health and Community Safety, said: “Improving air quality for residents and those working and visiting Guildford is a strategic priority for the Council. Our Air Quality Strategy for Guildford (2017) shows our commitment to our statutory duties, which involve monitoring air quality and taking action where needed, and also takes a proactive approach more generally to improving air quality. Our ongoing partnership with the University of Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE), and our engagement with local communities, is a key part of the work and our overall strategy. The University’s contribution to this is a positive and important way to help achieve air quality improvements for everyone across the borough.”
To find out more about future iSCAPE local events please visit Guildford Living Lab (#GuildfordLivingLab) website.
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