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7th Jan 2021 in Community

Ulster University and Belfast City Council have come together in a unique research partnership to make a practical and tangible impact on the climate change emergency.

Supporting Belfast City Council’s draft Resilience Strategy’s ambition for ‘an inclusive, low-carbon, climate resilient economy in a generation’, the Architects of Change project puts students from the School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the heart of developing a training programme for business leaders to bridge the green skills gap.

Leading academics will firstly work with students on concepts and strategies for smart cities and zero emission processes. They will then focus on identifying the gaps in knowledge and skill related to net zero carbon buildings and how these can be addressed through this training programme.

Focussing on sustainability, the training programme will support current business leaders to deliver environmentally and socially sustainable practice within organisations.

The programme will have ongoing mentoring support, a range of materials and a consultancy service from the University to all programme participants in order to ensure development and growth beyond the life of the training programme.

Speaking about the partnership, Professor Rafaella Folli, Provost of Ulster University’s Belfast campus, said:

“The climate change emergency is obviously not a new concern but in recent times it has gained enormous social traction thanks to young leaders like Greta Thunberg.

“Given our commitment to transformative educational experiences, we are able to engage our young leaders within the University’s student body to partner with Belfast City Council to deliver this vital programme of work, reoffering once again the power and added value of a partnership approach in education and in society.

“Merging theory with practice, to address the Green Agenda skills gap, we will develop innovative practice and shape the operations, buildings and communities of the future.”

Belfast Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey added:

“This partnership with Ulster University will give us the opportunity to inform and influence senior business leaders on the Green Agenda.

“Following a period of consultation, we’ll soon be launching Belfast’s Resilience Strategy, which sets out to transition to ‘an inclusive, low-carbon, climate resilient economy in a generation’. This project will help us to drive change and alter behaviours in order to meet this challenging goal.

“It will put students – our future leaders – at the centre of a dedicated sustainability and carbon emissions training programme, where they will learn and test concepts and strategies and then pass this knowledge on to city leaders, partners and peers.”

In the longer term, results of the project will deliver concepts and strategies for the design, planning, construction and management of climate resilient, net zero emission buildings and communities. It will focus on improving the health and well-being of citizens, users and communities.

The first element of the programme, ‘Zero Belfast’, is already underway with students developing a sustainable plus energy, net zero emission neighbourhood concept in this key step towards shaping Belfast as a smart, green city.

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