Environmental Engineering Laboratory | EnvE - Lab


Environment & Health

Urban Reduction of GHG Emissions in China and Europe (URGENCHE) is a project aiming to develop and apply a methodological framework for the assessment of the overall risks and benefits of alternative greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction policies for health and well-being in China and Europe.

In URGENCHE, a team of internationally recognized scientists in the areas of health risk assessment, urban energy demand and supply scenarios, urban planning, environmental science and epidemiology – in close collaboration with city partners in both Europe and China – develops and applies a methodological framework for the assessment of the overall risks and benefits of alternative greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction policies for health and well-being.

These GHG reduction policies may affect public health in various ways, such as the choices made regarding the selection of fuels and means for space heating and transport, building codes to improve thermal efficiency, or urban development and zoning. A methodological framework will be developed and applied. This framework considers GHG emission reductions of energy demand and supply and transport scenarios in urban areas, the effect of these policies, and subsequently the impacts on human health and well-being.

The GIS-based approach takes into account the advances made in integrated assessment in a large range of studies in Europe over recent years (many with participation of the project partners). The impact on human health and well-being of GHG policies may be the result of changes in exposure patterns of the urban population to environmental contaminants such as ambient and indoor air pollution as well as changes in housing, urban green spaces, workplaces, transport and lifestyles. Distribution of the impacts across different socioeconomic groups will be addressed. Results will be demonstrated for the year 2030 on a business-as-usual and two GHG emission reduction scenarios with emphasis on transport and buildings.

URGENCHE will deliver a validated, methodological framework to assess urban GHG policies with the greatest co-benefits for health and well-being in cities ranging in population from 50,000 to 10 million, across various climatological conditions and differences in socio-economic background.

The methodology for estimating exposure and associated risks (expressed in mortality) was applied in Thessaloniki. With regard to indoor air quality, the effect of buildings energy certificates was investigated (affecting indoor/outdoor air exchange rate), as well as the potential use of biomass combustion, combined also to dominant indoor air emission sources such as smoking. Calculations were based on the differences of PM2.5 indoor concentrations.

Similarly, NOx and benzene outdoor concentrations were modeled for the existing traffic conditions (fleet composition and traffic load, as well as the associated health risks. Future work includes the investigation of the effect of the Thessaloniki metro to ambient (and indoor) air quality, overall exposure and the associated health effects to the local population.

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