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Solutions for outdoor climate adaptation

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SOLOCLIM (Solutions for outdoor climate adaptation)

Reporting period: 2021-10-01 to 2023-09-30

Solutions for Outdoor Climate Adaptation (SOLOCLIM) is a European Industrial Doctorate project in the programme Innovative Training Networks and part of Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions funded by the European Commission within the Horizon 2020 programme. The aim of SOLOCLIM is to develop a doctoral training programme that enables young researchers to generate solutions for urban outdoor environments.

SOLOCLIM researchers developed solutions to improve urban climate such as vertical green and the proper distribution of green in cities. Moreover, upcoming systems using water vapour as a coolant as well as flexible systems that respond to microclimate have been studied. They were studied on different scale levels from small scale around buildings to a larger neighbourhood/city scale and their effects were tested. The industry in architecture, urban and landscape design needs these innovative solutions as climate adaptation in cities is one of the largest challenges for the future. All plans and designs that the industry develops must respond to the urban (micro)climate challenges. Apart from the availability of solutions the industry also needs the expertise. This expertise involves design and research skills related to urban (micro)climate.
The SOLOCLIM project has achieved its main aims for the final reporting period. Several project deliverables and milestones have undergone delays caused predominantly by the global Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
The work towards the main objectives for the final two years of the project has been achieved:
- To develop innovative solutions for outdoor climate adaptation of the urban environment: SOLOCLIM continued successfully in the three thematic clusters on microclimatic interventions in the urban environment: vegetation, water and responsive design. These clusters were addressed at two different scales – street and city scale, resulting in 6 individual thematic/scale topics. Six recruited ESR continued to develop their PhD trajectories grounded on the close collaboration between a university and a company, supervised by several representatives of different disciplines within academia and industry. SOLOCLIM handled innovative research methods integrating co-design, research through design and interdisciplinary approaches to address current and future microclimatic challenges in cities.
- To train future experts in outdoor climate adaptation of the urban environment with leading partners across the sector within real projects: Six ESRs continued to successfully design on different scales in real scenarios, especially in the industry context. Since September 2021, SOLOCLIM has organized more face-to-face and online training and networking events for ESRs, on different research methods but also gathered some of the world's top leaders in the field of urban climate adaptation as additional advisors.
- To contribute to the understanding and adoption of outdoor climate adaptation strategies of the urban environment and formulate design guidelines to influence the development of policy and regulations across the EU: SOLOCLIM has set the base for strategic transfer of new knowledge gained through the research to the non-academic audience and relevant professional groups by developing applicable design prototypes. The dissemination of findings, such as the symposia, events and online platforms that were open to a broad public and were visited by professionals from the industry.

A more precise overview of the results and their dissemination can be found in the Technical Report No.2 Part B.
All six ESR projects developed in SOLOCLIM have produced novel knowledge and prototypical solutions to improve the urban climate. All work went beyond the current state of the art because it had to be original and innovative to be accepted in peer-reviewed publications, for conferences and/ or nominated for design awards and important exhibitions of novel design work (e.g. Dutch Design Week). The exact description of the projects and their outcomes can be found in the Technical Report No.2 Part B.

SOLOCLIM provided chances to have impact in various ways: on the ESRs career development, the institutions involved, societal and professional impact and impact on the European Research Area.

The active collaboration between the academia and industry sector, promoted a coherent understanding of the commercial as well as the academic requirements of urban (micro)climate adaptation solutions and generate an entrepreneurial and commercial mindset with a focus on innovation. The ESRs learnt to hold presentations, and organize symposia as a team. The cross-disciplinary and cross-sector research and training programmes equipped the ESRs for careers in a range of urban (micro)climate adaptation solutions and urban climate fields, allowing them to demonstrate the broad knowledge base required to fully understand academia and industry needs. One ESR has already found an employment with an NGO where he can deploy the cross-sector skills and for the other ESRs this training will greatly enhance the future employability.

In the first place, SOLOCLIM offered opportunities to build a strong transdisciplinary network that has been cherished by all beneficiaries and in which an atmosphere of mutual trust has occurred. The industry will easily connect to the academic partners when they need to consult for scientific knowledge to support the development of their products. Vice versa, the academic partners will connect to the industry when they need to consult stakeholders to test their theoretical findings against a practical background.

During the SOLOCLIM events the academic and professional community got well-involved in workshops, presentations and panel discussions. In the second half of the project, SOLOCLIM organised events in Germany and Italy, reaching an interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral audience from industry, academia, and local governance institutions.
Apart from that, the plethora of publications and presentations from ESRs at practice oriented and scientific conferences, as well as SOLOCLIM social media presence ushered the societal and professional impact and academia-practice knowledge transfer.

There is a clear opportunity for Europe to take the lead in the development of the next generation of urban (micro)climate adaptation solutions and systems and, in particular, to speed their implementation through integration with sustainable urban planning and other fields to provide high-capacity building and innovative planning and design strategies. SOLOCLIM has contributed to this field of expertise by training new experts and by developing new training modules that are accessible to a European researcher audience. The stimulation of a variety of skills shaped valuable potential professional profiles that prepared the ESRs for careers as researchers in academia, at technological institutes or in R&D departments of industries. They became specialist in the field of design of urban climate adaptation systems, a topic that gains ever more importance due to climate change and the necessity to adapt urban environments. With this expertise and their newly gained transdisciplinary research and design skills they are an asset to enrich the European job market.