BREATHE: a feasibility study of sustainable green barriers to air pollution in the global south

Lead supervisor: Prof Anna Jorgensen, Landscape
Co-supervisor(s): Dr Juan Miguel Kanai, Geography; Prof Beverley Inkson, Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Dr Ross Cameron, Department of Landscape; Dr Maria Val Martin, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Deadline: Monday 26th March 2018

Project description
This interdisciplinary project spanning landscape architecture, engineering, science and social science will assess the feasibility of making and installing ‘green fences’ (hybrid structures incorporating physical barriers & living plants) around schools to mitigate the effects of road traffic related air pollution on the health and wellbeing of schoolchildren and staff working at the schools. The project will explore whether effective green fences can be constructed by local social enterprises using locally sourced sustainable/recycled materials. Prototypical green fences will be installed at case study schools in Sheffield and Buenos Aires (Argentina), and their impacts and effectiveness will be monitored using a range of outcome measures. It is hoped that this project will demonstrate the effectiveness of locally sourced and manufactured green fences and encourage their uptake to mitigate air pollution in other cities in the global south, with benefits to health, wellbeing and local economies.

This is a collaborative project involving academics from the University of Sheffield and the Landscape Architecture programme at the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism at the University of Buenos Aires. The project will have three main phases. In phase 1 the student will work with Sheffield City Council & the Sheffield schools to develop alternative green barrier typologies & effective pre & post methods for monitoring outcomes i.e. before & after the barriers are installed. Where possible, ‘citizen science’ approaches to monitoring will be developed to enable staff & pupils to engage fully in the research process. In Phase 2 the student will work collaboratively with students & staff at the University of Buenos Aires, & with local communities & stakeholders to design & install contextually appropriate prototypical barriers at a school in Buenos Aires & to monitor the outcomes using the methods developed in Phase 1. This work will act as an action research case study to derive an understanding of the social/political/economic obstacles to implementation & upscaling. Phase 3 will focus on dissemination & impact. Alongside academic outputs, the student will report back to the schools on the findings, developing opportunities for inter-cultural exchange between the UK/Argentinian schools in the process. The project will be disseminated to communities & stakeholders using the medium of a short documentary film (with subtitles in Spanish/English) to record the process of the project & report on the outcomes. An online information pack will also be developed, providing support & contacts for schools & other institutions wanting to explore green barriers & other nature-based solutions.

Keywords: Green fences; Health and wellbeing; air pollution; nature-based solutions
Subject areas: Botany/ Plant Science; Ecology & Conservation; Environmental Engineering; Architecture & the Built Environment; Development Studies; Geography; Town & Country Planning; Environmental Science

Funding notes
This four-year studentship will be fully funded at Home/EU or international rates. Support for travel and consumables (RTSG) will also be made available at standard rate of £2,627 per annum, with an additional one-off allowance of £1,000 for a computer in the first year.  Students will receive an annual stipend of £17,336.  Applications should be received and complete by Monday 26th March 2018.

What to include in the application
Your application for this studentship should be accompanied by a CV and a 200 word supporting statement. Your statement should outline your aspirations and motivation for studying in the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures. You should also outline any relevant experience and interests that you have in sustainability issues.

Please select ‘Standard PhD’ and the department of this project’s lead supervisor. Fill in the title of your desired project and the name(s) of the supervisors. The starting date of the PhD will be the start of the next academic year – 1 Oct 2018. The ‘Funding stage’ on the form will be ‘project studentship’.