With new technologies come smarter homes, buildings and transport – but how far are we from the ideal city that is functional and sustainable? This month we investigate using data to measure the positive impacts of making the cities we are building more comfortable – a short piece by Dr Cole Hendrigan, and  we follow the PhD journey of Clayton McDowell at the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC), who was recently in Dubai as student team leader and project manager of the Desert Rose House Solar Decathlon team. 

You can also look back on a popular article by Dr Emma Heffernan on the ‘Future of Sustainable Housing’. Dr Heffernan’s PhD research investigated the delivery of zero carbon homes in the UK context and explored the potential for alternative forms of housing delivery to promote sustainable communities. Her current research interests at UOW include energy efficient design in residential buildings, sustainable communities, sustainable construction, building energy modelling and climate change adaptation.

Emma Heffernan Intro story

“There are many innovations and emerging areas of focus within the field of sustainable construction. The Internet of Things brings a vast range of possibilities to the field of sustainable construction with virtually endless possibilities for embedding sensors within buildings to create Living Labs. There are also some exciting projects looking to develop innovative solutions for generating energy using the façades of buildings, which are particularly relevant in the apartment sector.” - Dr Heffernan.

A long standing research focus of the university is rail transport. Over the past twenty years, research at the Centre for Geomechanics and Railway Engineering (CGRE) led by Distinguished Professor Indraratna and his team has led to the implementation of innovative research-based solutions in the area of modern railway geomechanics.

The lack of sound knowledge to enhance rail track performance and reduce repair cost to things such as Ballast gradations has been a major concern in rail practices worldwide. In NSW alone, replenishing ballast costs about $15M/year, and the loss in productivity by closing lines to replace ballast and related maintenance costs even more.

September Intro Buddhima

The research from the team led by Distinguished Professor Buddhima Indraratna has led to improved Australian standards in ballast gradations, allowing greater loads to be carried at increased speeds, while their enhanced track stability research, using geosynthetics, has led to further improvements and has increased the accuracy of rail track predictions.   

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