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College Goes Green .... And Blue

Funding of almost £13 million recently announced by the Higher Education Authority for research at UCC has paved the way for an environmental research institute at Ringaskiddy.


L- R: Ms Aveen Henry, Cleaner Production Promotion Unit; Dr Marcus Keane, Mr Denis Kelliher and Professor Philip O'Kane, Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Academic disciplines involved include environmental chemistry, engineering, management, law, biology areas such as eco-toxicology and biodiversity and coastal and marine research. The Institute building itself will be part of the research.


In the new "green building" in Ringaskiddy, if the heating is left on in an office for the weekend with the window open, the monitoring system of the building will pinpoint where the loss of energy occurred.

The "green building" concept is part of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering's work on two futuristic projects " a green building" which will house the Environmental Research Institute and the "blue city " whereby Cork city will become a blueprint on how a city can make better use of its water resources.

Energy Waste Monitored

The "green building" will be designed and built so that its environmental performance can be monitored, controlled and viewed using state- of -the- art technology. The performance of the renewable energy systems will tell office users in any part of the building whether they are wasting energy in their sector or whether water is being dribbled away unnecessarily.

The flow of materials to and from the building will be monitored and in keeping with the goal of end-of-life recycling the behaviour of the building structure itself and all equipment within it will be subject to daily data updates. "Our aim is to take the green agenda and fuse it with state- of- the- art information technology systems," says Professor Philip O Kane.

The design team led by Dr Marcus Keane and Dr Denis Kelleher and Ms Aveen Henry will work closely with the architects to ensure that the construction of the building operates with the same green principles. When the building is functional, browsers on the Internet will be able to go to the UCC site and check how the "green building" is performing, whether it is maximising renewable energy and minimising waste generation.


This project will use information technology to study the various treatments the water receives before it is passed on for human consumption, its use for industrial and agricultural purposes and the various means by which human interaction with the resource affects and in many cases diminishes it.

The "blue city" project will produce a living real-time model against which water use and abuse can be measured. It will be able to monitor flooding and sea-level rises due to climate change, as well as assembling immediately accessible data on the performance of the Inniscarra reservoir, its hydroelectric and water treatment plants, stormwater overflows and distribution networks.

The German space agency camera, originally developed for the mission to Mars, will give a view of the lie of the land, the Lee, its tributaries and estuary and the coast. The model thus created will be able to predict the pattern of flooding on a particular farmer's land. This will have a social implication, says Professor O' Kane because the planners will be able to go to the farmer and discuss ways of solving the problem, using a real-time model as a back-up. This project will also be available for work-in-progress inspection on the Internet.

Information on this and other PRTL projects(phase 1 and 2) is available on the internet : http://www.ucc.ie/research/



Issue 146, Autumn 00

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