Related Research

REDO: Renewable Energy and Discourses of Objection - Towards Deliberative Policy Making

Project Leader: Dr Geraint Ellis , School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

This project aims to analyse the range of interests, perceptions and tactics related to the development of renewable energy infrastructure in order to inform more effective decision-making that supports sustainable development.  The project challenges the tendency to apply over-simplified categories of supporters and objectors to wind farm developments, which overlooks the complexity of the attitudes held and the potential to explore alternative means of resolving the resulting disputes.  Read more…

Skills for Managing Spatial Diversity

Project Leaders: Dr Brendan Murtagh and Dr Geraint Ellis , School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

This study aims to open a debate about the skills needed to develop sustainable places and communities in Northern Ireland.  In particular this research considers the way in which race, religion and poverty interlock to produce ‘wicked’ urban problems.  Drawing on experiences in Northern Ireland, the project offers models of practice to: inform the national debate on Community Cohesion; the management of ethnically diverse places; and the skills set that may help professionals and practitioners resist the pulling effects of residential segregation.  Read more…

British Academy grant: Sustainable construction for developing countries:  An examination of decision-making processes used in the planning, designing and building of housing for post-disaster reconstruction. 

Project leader: Dr Carolyn Hayles, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

A number of housing projects funded by charities and NGO’s in response to disasters, in developing countries are deemed to be inappropriate due to poor project management and limited resources which may comprise one or more of the following:  limited knowledge of local climatic conditions; local materials; and the way people live and work within their communities; and often simply lack of experience.  The introduction of structured decision making to allow for the audit of the cognitive processes adopted, alongside access to appropriate tools and techniques to engender the adoption of local knowledge, will reduce the risk of unsustainable building projects. Research is currently being undertaken to capture tacit, implicit and explicit knowledge and map the project management practices of leading aid agencies (NGOs and charities working in disaster relief) to understand decision making practices that result in best practice amongst these organisations.

Are building and construction graduate skills meeting the needs of a greener built environment?

Project Leader:   Dr Carolyn Hayles , School of Planning Architecture and Civil Engineering

The construction and building industry is an industry where employees with knowledge and understanding of sustainability and sustainable development are in increasingly high demand. This is as a result of the push to implement more environmentally sustainable management policies, practices and operations to meet current environmentally focused legislation. 

The intention of this research is to establish whether skills priorities have changed given the increased awareness of the need to focus on the environment and on building ‘green’ and whether our current graduates leave QUB with the skills required to meet the needs of the industry.

An Investigation into Students’ Perceptions and Awareness of Sustainability Issues

Project leader: Dr Carolyn Hayles, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

This research looks at students’ perceptions and awareness of environmental Issues prior to and after completion of a module on sustainable construction and green building design. The module introduces students to the key issues surrounding sustainability and the wide ranging impact that the construction industry has on the environment.

Students complete a survey on sustainability and paradigm shift activity at the beginning and end of the semester. Results are used to explore whether undertaking the module was associated with more informed and/or transformed perceptions and awareness of sustainability and environmental issues.  This knowledge can contribute to the development of teaching materials and delivery. 

PLUREL: Science for Sustainable Rural-Urban Regions

Project leader: Dr Alberto Longo, Institute of Agri-food and Land Use School of Biological Sciences

Sustainable rural-urban land use relationships require proper policies and planning. PLUREL aims to contribute to this by developing strategies as well as planning and forecasting tools. These will help analyse urbanisation trends in the European Union, while they will also contribute to better guidance of urbanisation processes and to mini¬mise their negative impacts.  Read more…

EXIOPOL: A New Environmental Accounting Framework Using Externality Data and Input-Output Tools for Policy Analysis

Project leader: Dr Alberto Longo, Institute of Agri-food and Land Use School of Biological Sciences

EXIOPOL aims to:

  • develop estimates of the external costs of key environmental impacts for Europe
  • set up an environmentally extended input-output framework in which as many of these external costs as possible are included.
  • apply these analyses to the analysis of policy questions of importance, and an evaluation of the impact of past research on external costs on policy-making in the EU.  Read more…

Sustainable Development through Compressive Membrane Action in FRP Reinforced Concrete Slabs

Project Leader: Prof David Cleland, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

This research investigates the performance of FRP (Fibre Reinforced Polymer) reinforcement in laterally restrained slabs, to allow design of high performance slabs with small amounts of corrosion free reinforcement.  Introducing FRP reinforcement and incorporating compressive membrane action will often lead to more sustainable design, as:

  • FRP is more durable than steel, which is used in traditional reinforced structures, and therefore FRP reinforced structures will have a longer life span.
  • As a result of considering compressive membrane action, it is possible to reduce the amount of reinforcement required for laterally restrained slab without compromising its performance, thereby reducing resource consumption.
  • FRP is significantly lighter than traditional steel reinforcement, reducing energy consumption for mobilisation and handling on site.  Read more…

FlexiArch: A flexible precast concrete arch

Project Leader: Prof Adrian Long, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Arches have been used in construction for over 2000 years, as they are strong and exceptionally durable.  However their use is less frequent in modern construction, as construction is difficult and time consuming, as temporary formwork is needed to support the arch until it is fully constructed.  FlexiArch is a “flat pack” precast concrete solution, that allows durable arched bridges to be constructed quickly and easily, that was conceived by staff and students at Queen’s in the late 1990s.  The concept was patented in the early 2000s, and in collaboration with Macrete Ireland, the first FlexiArch bridge was installed near Belfast in September 2007. 

Sustainability is a key aspect of the FlexiArch design.  As FlexiArch contains no reinforcement (the main cause of deterioration of modern reinforced concrete structures), it is an extremely durable when properly maintained.  FlexiARch is quick and easy to install, reducing any disruption to local communities.  It also is transported as a flat beam, reducing transportation costs.  Read more…

Development of a Hazardous Waste Classification Tool for Civil Engineers

Project leader: Dr Rory Doherty, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering 

The aim of this research is to develop a tool, which would correctly classify Construction, Demolition and Excavation (CDE) wastes allowing efficient use of the Waste Hierarchy at the design stage of civil engineering projects.  If potential waste production and classification is considered at the design stage of a construction project, the sustainable strategies of waste minimisation and reuse/recycling of materials become enshrined in the project.

The decision making tool will help the end user to classify potential wastes based on the European Waste Catalogue.  The tool will eliminate error in waste classification and identify the best process to manage waste.  The tool will also reduce the time taken to classify waste as it will be simple to use and eliminates the need to refer to the numerous documents routinely used to classify waste.  As the tool is simple to use and requires minimum knowledge it can be used by all stakeholders involved in the construction process from design to project completion.  Read more...

Sustainable Remediation Technologies - QUESTOR funded project S7

Project leader: Dr Rory Doherty, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Active groundwater remediation technologies are energy intensive and this energy requirement is sustained for the life of the remediation.  Therefore active technologies are often less sustainable in terms of cost-efficiency, contamination reduction and environmental balance than passive remediation technologies.

Geophysical techniques have recently been used to monitor a variety of subsurface environments, including groundwater, contaminant plumes and microbial activity.  This project applies geophysical techniques to active groundwater remediation technologies (air sparging and pump and treat) using a series of laboratory and field tests.  The geophysical techniques provide decision-making methodologies to increase the efficiency of these active remediation technologies, optimising the need for subsurface drilling, reducing energy consumption and making active remediation a more practicable and sustainable option.  Read more...

Wetland Characterisation/Restoration

Project Leader:  Dr Raymond Flynn, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Widespread reclamation of natural wetland environments has presented Environmental Engineers with a number of new inter-related challenges ranging from predicting the response of peat to drainage to the restoration of damaged wetland habitats.  The recent EU Habitat and Water Framework Directives stipulate that groundwater dependant wetlands should be protected from human activity.  Understanding the interactions between regional and wetland groundwater regimes is essential in order to develop appropriate wetland conservation and engineered restoration programmes.  This research examines the role played by groundwater in supporting wetlands and what type of conditions must be in place in order to protect threatened wetland environments and to restore areas damaged by human activity.  Read more…

Influence of Organic Matter on Colloid Transport and Attenuation

Project Leader:  Dr Raymond Flynn, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Both colloids and organic matter are ubiquitous in the environment and strongly influence water quality and public health.  However, the interaction of these materials has yet to be adequately quantified.  This laboratory-based research aims to quantify the role that natural organic matter plays in colloidal transport through porous media.  Results have important implications in processes ranging from the efficiency of water filters to enhanced transport of colloids in contact with humic-rich waters, and the potential use of organics/colloids in enhancing contaminated site remediation.  Read more…

Aquatic Pollutant Hydrological Pathway Assessment

Project Leader:  Dr Raymond Flynn, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

The EU Water Framework Directive requires member states to develop and implement river basin district (RBD) management plans.  Irish hydromorphological and geological conditions make this task particularly challenging.  This multidisciplinary study proposes integrating existing research/data with further focused data acquisition to better constrain semi-distributive hydrological models.  Read more…

Hydrogeology of Poorly Productive Aquifers

Project Leader:  Dr Raymond Flynn, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering and Dr Ulrich Ofterdinger, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Poorly productive bedrock aquifers underlie over 60% of the Island of Ireland.  Scarce relevant data suggests that many of these units are highly heterogeneous and need to be investigated in detail if site-specific conditions are to be extrapolated to the catchment scale.  This project investigates hydrogeological and hydrochemical conditions in bedrock and their inter-relationship with shallower geological units.  Integration of site-specific data with regional survey results is anticipated to permit more realistic hydrogeological models of bedrock units to be developed.  These models will be used to evaluate future climatic/human impacts on groundwater in bedrock aquifers.  Read more…

Oyster™: wave powered hydro-electric plant

Project Leader: Prof Trevor Whittaker, School of Planning Architecture and Civil Engineering

Oyster™ is a seabed mounted Oscillating Wave Surge Converter (OWSC), that operates near to shore in between 10 and 15m depth of water.  It is a modular system that can be arranged in clusters of up to 5MW capacity, and the clusters can also be combined into 100MW arrays.  Oyster™ exploits an amplified wave surge component to provide a higher capture efficiency in most commonly occurring seas.  Decoupling allows electricity generation to continue in extreme seas.  It has been designed to allow rapid installation and removal in short weather windows using non-specialist vessels.  A 350 kW prototype unit will be installed in Orkney in 2009.  Read more...

LIMPET: shoreline wave power plant

Project Leader: Prof Trevor Whittaker, School of Planning Architecture and Civil Engineering

Limpet is a is a fixed structure shoreline Oscillating Water Column (OWC) wave power plant that operates with a pneumatic turbine.  A 500 kW prototype unit was installed at Isle of Islay, Scotland in 2000, and this has been extensively researched, publicised and internationally recognized.  Read more…

A wave-powered desalination plant

Project Leader:  Prof Trevor Whittaker, School of Planning Architecture and Civil Engineering

The limited availability of fresh water is estimated to be associated with 80% of diseases and 30% of all deaths in the developing world.  Sea water is readily available in many areas of the world where limited drinking water is a problem.  However the high energetic requirement for desalination means that its implementation is often restricted due to limited energy supply.  Wave-powered desalination offers an environmentally sensitive solution for areas where there is a shortage of water and sufficiently energetic waves.  QUB are collaborating with El Insituto Tecnológico de las Canarias (ITC), Gran Canaria, Spain to bring together the expertise in wave power electricity generation developed at QUB with the knowledge of desalination technology developed at ITC to identify a potential solution for wave power desalination.  Read more…


Project Leader: Prof Frank Figge, Queen’s University Management School

The "International Research Network on Social and Environmental Aspects in Business and Management" (SEABUS-Network) has established a worldwide network of research institutions in order to foster the conceptual and methodological exchange on innovative research on environmental and social aspects in business and management. Under the umbrella of this network the partners strive to further establish their research in the area of the management of social and environmental aspects in companies within the international scientific community. The network currently comprises eight research institutions from all over the world.  Read more…

NeW – Sustainably successful?

Project Leader: Prof Frank Figge, Queen’s University Management School

The NeW-project uses the Sustainable Value approach to measure the corporate sustainability performance of manufacturing companies in Germany. The Sustainable Value approach uses opportunity cost thinking to assess and manage sustainability performance. This approach allows researchers to measure and manage sustainability performance in monetary terms. While all existing approaches to measure sustainability performance are burden-based Sustainable Value uses value-oriented thinking that was restricted to the measurement of financial performance to date.  Read more…

Theory of Sampling and Environmental Decision Making

Project leader: Dr Rory Doherty, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering
Project student: David Hiroz, School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering

Soil matrices are an often highly heterogeneous mixture of naturally occurring soil particles and anthropogenic material.  The sampling of such a heterogeneous mixture and the uncertainties associated with it, is often ignored with the main emphasis on potential error only considered post sampling.  This work combines the use of conceptual, deterministic and stochastic, models to develop a sampling tool.  The models simulated the heterogeneity present within soil matrices, and aided the development of experimental procedures that utilised correct sampling techniques to characterise uncertainty.  The errors generated when no sampling procedures are followed could render any laboratory analysis and the decisions based on these results invalid even if the laboratories are fully accredited.  If sampling theory is applied to environmental, geotechnical or any engineering sampling then the risk of poor decision-making and liabilities and associated costs is reduced.  Read more…

Beaufort EAFM: An Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management

Project Leader: Dr Keith Farnsworth, School of Biological Sciences

The Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (1992) set a requirement for ecosystem approaches to natural resource management, ensuring sustainability through recognition of ecological effects and use of the 'precautionary principle'. This has been adopted by international treaty in relation to commercial fisheries management, establishing the need to replace single stock management models with ecosystem level predictive tools. With funding from the Irish Republic under their "Sea Change" initiative, we are developing new models needed for the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management, using size-resolved food-web representations of marine communities and focussing on the Celtic Sea as a  worked example. Read more…