Working together for a more Sustainable City

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” 

Aristotle 

Since 2012, the Sustainable Earth Institute (SEI) has been working closely with the Low Carbon City Team at Plymouth City Council (PCC) to ensure that opportunities for research collaboration and knowledge exchange are realised. Through a number of joint initiatives, the University has been able to share expertise that supports the City’s sustainable development agenda.

Research Manifesto – ‘Creating a Sustainable Future’

In 2015, the SEI and PCC developed a proactive approach to collaboration and developed a joint research manifesto setting out some of the key local sustainability issues for Plymouth and the related research areas and learning opportunities. The priority areas of research identified included: Health inequalities, natural infrastructure, water quality and flooding, home energy, transport, knowledge economy, sustainable food, governance and participation and housing.

By working with the local council to identify the key issues we can ensure our research contributes to the development of long term solutions. Examples include research by multiple University academics into flood management that respond to the City’s need to manage increasing flood risks, and research into sustainable transport, that can help inform the City’s aspiration to provide adequate transport links and a shift away from car use.

Currently the Low Carbon Devon project, is helping to respond to areas outlined in the manifesto around energy use, including influencing behaviour change and technological solutions to reduce energy demand.

Plymouth Net-Zero Carbon Action Group

In 2019, the University of Plymouth and PCC declared a climate emergency. PCC announced that they will be working with their partners to make Plymouth carbon neutral by 2030 and the University announced a target to adopt a net zero carbon emissions (scope 1 and 2) by 2025.  

In order to achieve these targets, significant and collaborative action is required. Towards the end of 2019, the SEI and PCC initiated the Plymouth Net-Zero Carbon Action Group, consisting of the larger carbon emitters across Plymouth. The action group provides a forum for a) knowledge sharing b) joint initiatives c) funding opportunities and d) informing and continually improving their activities for reducing emissions. It is chaired by the SEI and the secretariat is managed by PCC.  

Future Plymouth 2030

At the heart of the SEI is connecting researchers to the wider world to help develop approaches that build resilience to global and local challenges. We are pleased to be a lead partner of the Future Plymouth 2030 webinar series, alongside RIBA, architect firm Stride Treglown and PCC, which brings together expertise from public and private sectors to tackle climate change in our built environment. Launched in November 2020, the webinar series provides a platform for knowledge exchange of the latest research, industry developments and case studies to inspire low carbon, sustainable development in Plymouth. The University has speakers presenting from a range of disciplines including, Architecture, Environmental Buildings Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Science, Geography and Fine Art.  Visit Future Plymouth 2030 to find out more.

If you are interested in finding out more about sustainability research and opportunities to get involved, please contact the SEI at sei@plymouth.ac.uk.

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