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HEAT and the CITY

A Research Project on Sustainable Heat and Energy Conservation in Cities


Jan Webb, with SPS colleagues David Hawkey (Research Fellow), David McCrone, and Stewart Russell, together with Andy Kerr & Heather Lovell (Geosciences), Mark Winskel (Inst for Energy Systems, CSE), and Richard Bellingham, Fraser of Allander Institute, Strathclyde, have been awarded a major research grant of almost £1M by ESRC/EPSRC for a 4 year research project on the development of sustainable and low carbon heat systems in Northern European cities.

The project, funded under the joint Research Councils’ Energy and Communities Programme, is an important example of innovative multi-disciplinary collaboration, and is one of only 7 successful bids for total funding of £7.5 million.

The research begins with an analysis of the recent history of successful and failed sustainable heat projects in the UK and Northern Europe, before focusing on progress in Glasgow and Edinburgh, where Councils, businesses and community enterprises are collaborating over development of sustainable heat and energy efficiency in buildings. Through academic and community collaboration, the project will create a blueprint for catalysing transitions to sustainable heat in 'cold climate' cities. The team will analyse, and give feedback on, new projects as they develop, enabling shared learning in relation to community leadership, management and financial expertise. They will be working closely with the Glasgow-Edinburgh Collaborative Initiative (GECI), Sustainable Glasgow, Edinburgh Council Sustainable Development Unit, Scottish Enterprise, social enterprises and community groups.

Public debate about energy demand and carbon emissions has been dominated by two perspectives. One puts the onus on government to pass legislation. The other puts the onus on individuals and households to change their attitudes and behaviour. This project examines the thesis that solutions are most likely at the community level, and that city communities are the key to mobilising actors to achieve major change.


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