press release
Published: 10 September 2020

Surrey and Wollongong to develop tools to improve ‘street canyon’ air quality

As cities across the globe reawaken from their COVID-19 lockdowns, researchers from the University of Surrey have secured a grant to help them tackle air pollution in new and innovative ways.

Thanks to funding from the University Global Partnerships Network (UGPN), the University of Surrey in partnership with the University of Wollongong in Australia will now focus on solutions to reduce the impact of air pollutants in street canyons.

A street canyon is a place where densely clustered human-made structures -- most typically skyscrapers -- flank a road; these are the most polluted city environments due to high traffic volume and impeded airflow, which results in lack of ventilation.

A team from the Surrey’s world-renowned Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCARE) will be working to clarify the complicated relationship between green infrastructures such as hedges, air quality and cooling in street canyons.

During this year-long project, researchers from GCARE and their collaborators in Australia will develop a new, easy to understand framework to support city planners in making the best possible decisions when installing green infrastructure in their communities. 

Professor Prashant Kumar, the lead Principle Investigator of the project and Director of GCARE at the University of Surrey, said: “One of the few positives to come out of the horrendous COVID-19 pandemic is that we are seeing a willingness from society to tackle long-gestating issues – such as combating the air pollution crisis.

“It is our duty as scientists and researchers to provide politicians, city planners, decision-makers and our fellow citizens with easy-to-understand tools and solutions for the right type of green infrastructure for their community. This is what we hope to achieve with our partners at the University of Wollongong.”

Professor Paul Smith, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “It is great to see how the UGPN partners have come together over the years to engage with several distinct aspects of the challenges around clean air.  These links have been a vital part of establishing the GCARE activity at Surrey, which in turn has helped to stimulate further significant multinational collaborations with partners across the globe.  I do not doubt that this latest project between Surrey and Wollongong will lead to high-quality research outputs and far-reaching impact.”

The SCAN (Street-scale Greening for Cooling and Clean Air in Cities) project builds upon pioneering GCARE research into green infrastructure and air pollution mitigation and plant species selection.

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