Not a week goes by without some sort of story that proposes a ban on some sort of vehicle as a way of tackling air quality issues. In addition to work on Clean Air Zones (CAZs), government committees have been having their say, recommending that the ban on selling new diesel and petrol cars needs to be brought forward to 2035, from its current date of 2040.
While the cities and legislators are pressing ahead with bans or CAZs, we want to pause and question if they are really the only tool for achieving improved air quality. Whilst always well-intentioned, the reality is that even where they work well, there will always be vehicles and emissions that require management in order to mitigate their impacts on local communities.
The purpose of this project was simple: to see if a tool could be integrated to automate the council’s monitoring at the Queen’s Square site, managing high levels of noise and air pollution exposure for local residents, and also be built into future construction logistics compliance
To be honest, we are not particularly strongly pro- or anti- the banning of certain vehicles. Our preferred approach is to work collaboratively with a number of partners across different sectors to achieve reductions in air quality. Our end goal is to improve air quality so, in some respects, we can supplement CAZs where they do exist, and provide an easily deployable solution for where they don’t. We feel that we have a good case study of how this can be achieved.
At Queen’s Square, Croydon, we worked with a number of partners, including the London Borough of Croydon, to track a range of pollutants (PM10, PM2.5, PM1, CO, O3, SO2, NO2) and noise generated from the construction of their new town centre development. As Queen’s Square is promised to be the new creative quarter for Croydon, it shouldn’t be one that starts off by polluting the local area.
The purpose of this project was simple: to see if a tool could be integrated to automate the council’s monitoring at the Queen’s Square site, managing high levels of noise and air pollution exposure for local residents, and also be built into future construction logistics compliance? The answer, of course, was yes.
The resulting tool captured baseline noise and air quality information at eight locations around the development site, providing full coverage of vehicles and assets entering and leaving. From this, those working on the site could understand where emission breaches had occurred, providing the main contractor with information on how their site is performing, and which fleets and vehicles warrant closer inspection or checks on driver behavior, such as leaving engines idling. With real-time continuous monitoring, we provided Croydon with live alert warnings when emission breaches were imminent.
But you may be thinking…well we could just do all this by just banning the most polluting vehicles, right? Banning vehicles may achieve your air quality objectives. But we are achieving something more; we are giving a greater level of understanding to a local authority or contractor who wants to manage air quality events when they do occur, see who caused them, and provide insights on whjich to base action. In short, we’re taking an intelligent approach to tackling the air quality problem.
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