Meet the partner: The Glasgow Caledonian University

Rohinton EmmanuelRohinton Emmanuel is Professor of Sustainable Design and Construction at GCU and the Director of its Research Centre for Built Environment Asset Management (BEAM). His research focuses on the microclimate consequences of urbanization and its mitigation, mainly through urban planning and design as well as through the use of nature-based solutions. He leads the GCU’s contribution to the OPERANDUM project and is the OAL lead for UK. His particular expertise within the GCU team is on the performance evaluation of NBS and climate and environmental consequences of NBS. We interviewed Rohinton about his GCU’s involvement in the consortium.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the history, goals and strategy of The Glasgow Caledonian University?

“Established in 1993 by the merger of several historic Colleges of higher learning, Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) aims to be the ‘University for the common good.’ GCU’s current strategy (2030) draws upon our significant achievements in education, research and innovation to date. It aims to make a significant contribution to addressing global challenges identified by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In particular, GCU focuses on poverty alleviation, reduction of inequalities, use of artificial intelligence to deliver key services and the promotion of social and economic wellbeing and climate change.”

How did The Glasgow Caledonian University get involved in the OPERANDUM project?

“I have had long-term collaboration with Prof. Silvana di Sabatino, going back to 2006 in urban heat island work as well as in the context of an Erasmus Lifelong Learning Programme on urban climate and sustainability in 2012-2015. Subsequent conversations and alignment of our research interests led to an invitation in 2017 to participate in the OPERANDUM bid as a partner and to lead of an open-air laboratory. GCU team contributed to the bid development and in shaping the role of OALs within the OPERANDUM Project.”

How do you see the added value of The Glasgow Caledonian University in the OPERANDUM project? What is OAK-UK about?

“GCU brings a social and environmental wellbeing perspective to NBS interventions. Our team has strong interests both in the NBS engineering aspects as well as stakeholder engagement and sustainability perspectives to the OPEARNDUM project. In particular, GCU is able to contribute to sustainability assessment, performance monitoring and the wider systemic evaluation of NBS in use. Given the location of OAL-UK site on a steep slope, the instability of the slope, together with shallow landslides and coastal erosion threatens the stability of buildings and livelihoods at the top of the bay and has the potential to diminish the beauty of the place as well as poses threats to lives and livelihoods of the small residential community in Catterline Bay. The OAL-UK therefore aims to demonstrate the utility of NBS in shallow landslide prevention and enhance uptake of such interventions on a co-designed and co-deployed perspective.”

What exactly does The Glasgow Caledonian University do in relation to the OPERANDUM project?

“GCU team leads and manages one of the seven OALs of the project at Catterline Bay, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. We also contribute to all of the work packages of the project, in particular, to the development of NBS, co-design/co-development of interventions, and in particular to the deployment, monitoring and stakeholder engagement in NBS use, in the context of our OAL.”

What is something you are proud of relating to the project?

“The extra-ordinary rapport with the local community at the OAL-UK site and the extent to which we were able to try out different NBS interventions at a real site are our key achievements. Our ability to provide real-life evidence to the efficacy of NBS further enhances the credibility of the whole OPERANDUM project.”