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Engineering Comes Home: Co-designing nexus infrastructure from the bottom-up

Bell, S; Johnson, C; Borrion, A; Austen, K; Matsushita, J; Comber, R; Melville-Shreeve, P; (2017) Engineering Comes Home: Co-designing nexus infrastructure from the bottom-up. In: ISNGI Conference Proceedings 2017. (pp. pp. 46-54). ISNGI Green open access

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The ‘nexus’ between water, food and energy systems is well established. It is conventionally analysed as a supply-side problem of infrastructure interdependencies, overlooking demand-side interactions and opportunities. The home is one of the most significant sites of nexus interactions and opportunities for redesigning technologies and infrastructure. New developments in ‘smart city’ technologies have the potential to support a bottom-up approach to designing and managing nexus infrastructure. The Engineering Comes Home was a research project that turned infrastructure design on its head. The objectives of the project were to:  Demonstrate a new paradigm for engineering design starting from the viewpoint of the home, looking out towards systems of provision to meet household demands.  Integrate thinking about water, energy, food, waste and data at the domestic scale to support userled innovation and co-design of technologies and infrastructure.  Test new design methods that connect homes to communities, technologies and infrastructure, enhancing positive interactions between data, water, energy, food and waste systems.  Develop a robust Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) Calculator tool to support environmental decisionmaking in co-design. Working with residents of the Meakin Estate in South London, the project followed a co-design method to identify requirements, analyse options and develop and test a detailed design for a preferred option. The outputs were: 1) Ethnographic study of how residents use water, energy and food resources in their homes and key opportunities for engineering design to improve wellbeing and reduce resource consumption. 2) Co-design of decentralised infrastructural systems in three workshops in 2016-2017. The first workshop identified key priorities for development from the community using a novel token-based system design method, to enable participants to build up alternative designs for local provision of water, energy, food and waste services. The second workshop provided participants with factsheets and photographs of the candidate technologies, which were then analysed using a LCA Calculator tool. 47 Rainwater harvesting was selected as the technology for further co-design in the third workshop, which focussed on scaling up a pilot installation. 3) Pilot-scale smart rainwater system was installed in partnership with the Over The Air Analytics (OTA). OTA’s system enables remote control of the rainwater storage tanks to optimise their performance as stormwater attenuation as well as non-potable water supply. 4) Lifecycle Assessment (LCA) Calculator to enable quick estimation of the impacts of new systems and technology to deliver water, energy and food, and manage waste at the household and neighbourhood scale. 5) Stakeholders, including utilities, design consultancies and community based organisations, were engaged in three workshops to inform the wider relevance and development of the co-design methods and tools. 6) Toolbox and method statements to standardise and disseminate the methods used in the project for wider application and development.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Engineering Comes Home: Co-designing nexus infrastructure from the bottom-up
Event: International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure 2017
Location: London, UK
Dates: 11 September 2017 - 13 September 2017
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://isngi.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ISNGI-...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Water-energy-food nexus, co-design, social housing, rainwater harvesting, community engagement
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Civil, Environ and Geomatic Eng
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10041313
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