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St Albans Council works on digital tool for environmental insights

05/07/22
Entrance to St Albans Council offices
Image source: St Albans City and District Council

St Albans City and District Council is taking part in a project to create a new tool to give local people better insights into the environmental impact of building developments in their area.

It is working with researchers at the University of Hertfordshire and Hemel Hempstead based business consultancy Pröject EU on the City Net Zero Tool (CINT) project.

This is aimed at developing a digital platform that will enable the local community to engage with proposed changes to their urban landscape.

It brings together expertise in data analysis, data visualisation and urban planning to provide insights on the impact that a proposed development could have on carbon emissions and other environmental factors.

First phase

A spokesperson for the university said the first phase of the project, which involves collecting available carbon data and developing a model to analysis and initial visualisations, is due to run until September.

Phase two will run from October until May of next year with the aim of developing a functioning beta version of the tool.

The work builds on previous projects involving the council and the resilient communities and carbon data and visualising sustainability.

Councillor Chris White, leader of St Albans City and District Council, said: “Tackling the climate emergency is our top priority and we are working towards making the district carbon neutral by 2030.

“To achieve that goal we need the support of our residents, and this exciting project that we have embarked on with our partner organisations will help them to become more involved. Our residents will be able to use this tool to assess the environmental impact of developments in their neighbourhood to get a better understanding of the decarbonisation challenges that we are all faced with.”

Community understanding

Associate Professor Silvio Carta, lead researcher on the project for the University of Hertfordshire, commented: “It’s important that communities understand how net zero targets can be achieved in their local area, and what this looks like in practice.

“New buildings in urban areas aren’t necessarily a bad thing for the environment; by providing people with accurate data in a really accessible tool, they are able to see for themselves the impact that a proposed project would have, and engage in important conversations around sustainable planning for their home town.” 

Marc McGurk, director of project (EU), said: “We are pleased to be involved in the CINT project. It allows us to utilise our experience in data analysis and data visualisation, together with our growing carbon knowledge. The result of this project will make a difference to how local communities engage with their environs.”

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