Living Lab officially opened with international backing

Salford Mayor, Paul Dennett, at Living Lab
X The Business Desk

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The University of Salford’s IGNITION Living Lab was officially opened today (June 17).

The University’s IGNITION Nature Based Solutions (NBS) Living Lab is looking to unlock the key of climate change issues by providing options to tackle the climate emergency using Green Infrastructure (GI) experimentation technologies.

The event was attended by the Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett, and a global panel of Mayors from Australia, France, Germany, Canada and the UK.

Collectively, the mayors highlighted the important role green infrastructure plays in their cities, outlining how it has and will continue to be pivotal in their vision to build a sustainable future.

The NBS Living Lab is part of the ground-breaking IGNITION project, a £4m EU-funded initiative that brings together 12 organisations in the Greater Manchester area – this is with the goal of developing innovative solutions to promote wide scale implementation of green infrastructure in the region.

Greater Manchester is looking to uplift its footprint of green spaces contributing to its 2030 net zero target.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “The Living Lab epitomises the kind of vision and innovation that Greater Manchester does best.

“This place was the home of the first industrial revolution and right now we are at the forefront of a new industrial revolution in sustainable technologies here in the North West.

“We know that the climate crisis is one of the most fundamental challenges we face, but it also presents us with an opportunity to change our places for the better.

“By pioneering and testing new solutions to these challenges, the Living Lab can help us to rethink what truly green infrastructure looks like – and the kinds of jobs, skills and development that will be needed to make our towns and cities fit for the future.”

The Living Lab provides a ‘live’ space that showcases a wide variety of NBS technologies and climate mitigation solutions using real time data as evidence for the environmental and economic benefits. It is open for both public and stakeholder engagement.

The Living Lab is located at The University of Salford’s main campus and includes a rain garden, living wall, green/blue roof and sustainable urban drainage system (SuDS) for street trees. Using the facility, researchers and businesses can analyse the impact of green infrastructure in a real world retrofit urban environment.

Prof Hisham Elkadi, director of the Living Lab at the university, said: “We are delighted with the completion of the IGNITION Living Lab. This exciting development at the university campus demonstrates cutting edge green infrastructure technologies that continue to provide data for further research on hydrology, biodiversity, heat transmission through the structures, as well as how people interact with those installed green infrastructures.

“The impact of the Living Lab in its direct context includes uplifting the functionality of existing spaces and buildings on campus regarding water attenuation, energy performance, inclusive biodiversity and human interaction with GI.

“The Living Lab has also provided social engagement opportunities through communicating the innovative solutions and data to a wider range of stakeholders in Greater Manchester through events and collaborative activities delivered with our IGNITION partners.”

The Living Lab has been welcomed by the business community which has used the facility to investigate and experiment how green infrastructure can be used in different environments. The Living Lab team is currently working with Barratt Homes and SEL Environment on a collaboration that involves developing innovative green infrastructure solutions for smart homes and commercial buildings.

If successful, the roll-out will have a significant impact on the Greater Manchester residential and construction industry, as well as the retail sector, in particular that of superstores.

The launch of the NBS Living Lab was part of the Greater Manchester Natural Group Conference 2021 that is taking place on June 17 and 18 with a focus on ‘Delivering Nature Based Solutions at a City Region Scale’.