Household carbon visualisation VR tool courts COP26 delegates

Dr Alwan demonstrating his carbon visualisation tool

A VR tool that analyses and visualises household carbon emissions will be demonstrated at COP26.

Designed by Dr Zaid Alwan, an expert in sustainable construction in Northumbria’s Department of Architecture and Built Environment, and backed by the Centre for Digital Built Britain, the Digital Energy Estimation Tool uses immersive VR to help architects, construction professional developers, planners and members of the public assess where energy (both embodied and operational) is being used within buildings and make changes to make them more environmentally friendly. It can also be applied to larger scale developments, including at a city planning and infrastructure level.

Dr Alwan said: “If you are refurbishing your house and replacing maybe a specific type of wood or considering putting granite worktops in your kitchen, our tool will help you to visualise the carbon impact of this.

“Granite is a good example – as a dense, heavy material which is likely to have been imported from another part of the world, it has a much higher environmental impact. When we visualise the full-life cycle impact of this we can then consider substituting it for a material that can be sourced more locally, or which has a lower environmental impact.

“When people understand the importance of reducing carbon and can easily visualise ways to do it, then we can hopefully take actions and reduce the amount we buy and use.”

He added: “For this topic to be accepted it has to be something used in the mainstream. I believe the fact that we are using VR gaming as a hook to get people into understanding and evaluating emissions is huge and very forward thinking.

“I hope that my time at COP26 will allow me to bring back fresh ideas on how to challenge climate change for our students – our future architects and construction professionals – and also for my colleagues.”

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