Research Projects

The Research Node for Low Carbon Living ('the Node') undertakes research projects that provide PhD scholarships to stimulate new multi-disciplinary, industry driven research in South Australia into different aspects of low carbon living, with research focussed on making a measurable difference.  All Node research projects seek to address issues identified by industry, and are supported by industry partners.

Current Node projects:

Adelaide Living Laboratory

The Adelaide Living Laboratory venture is an action based research project, funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living, drawing evidence from three key Adelaide development sites at Tonsley, Lochiel Park and Bowden. Each of these sites has been established to meet specific government policy objectives, is physically created by the local building and construction industry, and incorporates data collection and analysis by the University of South Australia.

The Adelaide Living Laboratory project utilises the expertise and skills of community, industry and university participants to undertake site-specific research to build a stronger evidence base supporting government policy and planning, and industry delivery. The unique program of research is designed to help build a better understanding of low carbon living.

See our Adelaide Living Laboratory page for further information.

Adelaide Living Laboratory
Project Title: Adelaide Living Laboratory
School: School of Engineering; School of Art, Architecture and Design; School of Natural & Built Environments; Business School; School of Information Technology & Mathematics
Project Leader: Professor Wasim Saman
Project Partner: Renewal SA

Greening inner-urban travel

Transport has a large and growing impact on urban carbon emissions. The Carbon Neutral Adelaide consultation paper noted that transport is the second largest contributor of operational greenhouse gas emissions in the CBD, accounting for between 35-40% of the total carbon impact. In particular, passenger vehicles are estimated to contribute to over 95% of the total transport emissions. To achieve the policy outcome, it is important that mobility services that transport people and goods to and within the Adelaide City Council area, meet the needs of a dynamic economy but with a lower carbon impact.

This project will investigate the role sharing economy mobility services can play in supporting a transformation towards a low carbon city, exploring the use of share bikes, share cars, Uber and Ecocaddies. The research will map the potential market and identify barriers to greater uptake of the sharing economy.

See our Greening inner-urban travel page for further information.

Research Node for Low Carbon Living
Project Title: Greening inner-urban travel with sharing economy mobility services
School: School of Engineering; School of Art, Architecture and Design; School of Natural & Built Environments; Business School; School of Information Technology & Mathematics
Project Leader: Dr Stephen Berry
Project Partner: Government of South Australia, Adelaide City Council

Photovoltaic/thermal system for off-grid zero energy homes

The use of separate photovoltaic (PV) and thermal collectors for sufficient energy production for off-grid homes requires a large area of collectors, which increases the cost of energy supply systems and limits their implementation to locations where other sources of energy are either unavailable or expensive. The efficiency of such solar energy supply systems can be increased by integrating the PV modules with thermal collectors to form photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) collectors. This integration cools the PV cells; consequently increases the electrical efficiency and provides useful thermal energy simultaneously. Although PVT collectors can improve energy production, they have not been implemented in energy supply systems for off-grid homes. This research aims to use PVT collectors to develop an energy supply system for an off-grid home and to compare the system performance to that of separate PV and thermal collectors. This energy supply system will not only be useful for houses in remote areas but also for houses in areas where electricity grid exists, increasing the utilisation of renewable energy resources.

Research Node for Low Carbon Living
Research Student: Sleiman Farah
Project Title: Photovoltaic/thermal system for off-grid zero energy homes
School: School of Engineering
Supervisors: Professor Wasim Saman, Dr David Whaley
Project Partner: Bluescope Steel

Maximising renewable energy in small community precincts

Meeting energy demand on a fixed income is a challenge faced by retiring ‘Baby Boomers’ in our rapidly ageing population. At the same time, we need to move to cleaner energy sources. The utilisation of low-energy design, solar thermal energy and solar photovoltaics, combined with energy storage and demand management, offer a promising solution to affordable low carbon living. The project investigates how small community precincts can be designed and operated to maximise the use of renewable energy. Retirement villages are an ideal test-bed for trialling new technologies and systems that manage how much, and when, energy is used within a cooperating community. The project is identifing factors that can contribute to the successful implementation of 100% renewable energy use within such community precincts.

Research Node for Low Carbon Living
Research Student: Kirrilie Rowe
Project Title: Maximising renewable energy in small community precincts
School: School of Engineering
Supervisors: Dr Peter Pudney, Dr Stephen Berry
Project Partner: Breathe Retirement Village

Carbon reduction from composting food waste for food production

Food waste constitutes roughly half of municipal waste that is landfilled. Of all the strategies for diverting food waste from landfill, composting for food production achieves the highest GHG reduction. The full project will trial and model GHG reductions of scalable, socially sustainable and economically viable ways of producing compost for local food production from precinct food waste and assess the appropriateness of composting systems for different urban precincts. The project involves the modelling of the uptake of carbon by the soil via various composting routes, and will use input-output analysis to estimate the whole of economy effects of diverting food waste through composting, quantifying the total carbon reduction including soil carbon.

Research Node for Low Carbon Living
Research Student: Charles Ling
Project Title: Carbon reductions from composting food waste for food production – modelling GHG reduction and abatement in urban recycling models
School: School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences
Supervisors: Professor John Boland, Dr Julia Piantadosi
Project Partner: Sustainability Victoria, Renewal SA, Melbourne Metropolitan Waste Management Group

Children's everyday mobilities and low carbon living

Child-related car journeys are typically double that of journeys to work, and are rapidly growing with substantial negative health and carbon emission impacts. Framing low carbon living developments through the perspective of children’s daily lives, this project will develop planning strategies to create precincts which are conducive to walking, cycling, and playing – precincts that are purposely child-friendly. The project will provide the evidence base to improve precinct assessment tools and state planning instruments, leading to reduced private car use for education and childcare purposes, and associated carbon emission abatement.

Research Node for Low Carbon Living
Research Student: Hulya Gilbert
Project Title: Child friendly precinct design for low carbon living: improving policies and decision tools
School: School of Natural and Built Environments
Supervisors: Dr Andrew Allan, Dr Johannes Pieters
Project Partner: Renewal SA

Optimising thermal comfort for two and three storey residential buildings

In Australia, the response to the shrinking of residential block size was going up. Two story homes have become the norm for new housing, yet there is growing evidence that residential designs do not provide adequate levels of thermal comfort, particularly in upstairs zones. Monitored data from Lochiel Park has found that zones on the second floor are significantly warmer in summer as compared to the lower level, and beyond reasonable levels of thermal comfort as defined by ASHRAE Standards. This heightened level of discomfort is increasing the need for air-conditioning and associated energy costs, with further impacts on peak energy loads and anthropogenic climate change.

The project aims to identify cost effective architectural and technological solutions to optimise temperature distribution and comfort for two-story detached/attached homes or apartment buildings. Drawing on monitored data to establish a detailed energy model of household thermal comfort, and local construction cost data, this project will develop strategies that can be readily implemented by the Australian housing industry. The thermal comfort model will be generated using an enhanced version of CSIRO’s AccuRate software, which will facilitate the examination of various mechanical ventilation devices and design strategies not currently available in the commercial software release. Outputs from this research will result in improved thermal comfort for householders, lower energy bills and reduced net greenhouse gas emissions.

Research Node for Low Carbon Living
Research Student: Sormeh Sharifi
Project Title: Optimising thermal comfort for two and three storey residential buildings
School: School of Engineering
Supervisors: Professor Wasim Saman, Dr Stephen Berry
Project Partner: Renewal SA, CSIRO

Areas of study and research

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