This AHRC funded network aims to bridge the gap between the fields of indoor air quality, health, sustainability and the built environment, providing a platform for discussion and collaboration while facilitating knowledge exchange to the built environment professionals. The funding will support an initial three networking events to be held over 2016/2017.
The main objectives of the HEMAC network are as follows:
i) To identify the current context for low energy design from a design perspective and to map out the research context concerning indoor environmental quality, health and well-being
The lack of involvement from the architectural profession regarding issues of health and well-being (particularly indoor air quality) has been well documented, despite their underlying responsibilities and ability to directly affect the quality of the indoor environment through the physical design of buildings. It is estimated that only 10% of health factors are due to medical interventions – the remaining 90% are due to social and environmental factors. The research network aims to establish architecture at the forefront of emerging research in this area, and encourage collaborations that incorporate design perspectives, to achieve practical design solutions that can improve occupants’ health and well-being. There is a strong case for knowledge translation between indoor sciences and building designers, which requires deep-rooted, well-established connections between the various academic and professional disciplines, which can only be achieved through an intensive, multi-disciplinary networking scheme.
ii) To establish an inclusive and active network to identify: existing research areas and expertise, areas of overlap and common purpose, and shared gaps in knowledge; and to promote dialogue between the various disciplines and stakeholders
Given the impending (and often conflicting) challenges of meeting carbon targets set out by the Climate Change Act (2008), whilst at the same time improving the quality of the indoor environment to promote occupant health and well-being; there is a critical need to establish a network that enables dialogue between the design, medical and scientific communities. Through a carefully formulated framework of activities, researchers and practitioners will be prompted to step outside of their respective disciplines and engage in multidisciplinary debate, in an informal, creative environment. It is hoped that this will help to build lasting relationships between participants and establish the foundations for future cross- disciplinary collaboration.
iii) To establish well-founded, tangible project ideas, with the aim of developing these as grant applications
Through sustained engagement and intellectual discussions, the network aims to identify shared agendas and key research opportunities, and to develop these as tangible cross-disciplinary funding applications. The sandpit event at the end of the networking scheme will facilitate the refinement of these ideas and initiate the application process. It is envisaged that the research networking program will generate a number of shared outputs, funding applications and research grants, which will help to advance knowledge in the field and establish architecture as the central point for emerging research in the field.
iv) Develop an online platform to facilitate and promote sustained communication, and a knowledge base to be shared between the research domains and industry partners
The online platform will be developed to promote and support the networking activities, facilitate communication between participants and disseminate results and as a database and resource for knowledge and outputs. The platform will also be used to share findings with international researchers and industry professionals, and sustain communication between network members after the programme and to expand the network through further collaborations and activity.