Ashford Integrated Alternatives
Theme: Systems, Services & Design
Researchers: Andy Davies, Jens Roehrich
Based on a case study of Ashford, the aim of this research was to explore the feasibility of more integrated urban utility service provision as a way to improve the sustainability of urban development. This will be achieved by researching issues of scale, integration and delivery to potentially reduce resource use, limit emissions, manage innovation and improve the quality of life.
There were three main work packages and Imperial was responsible for WP3: evaluating the viability and transferability of business models proposed to design and deliver more integrated systems and services.
Project Leader, Dr Andrew Davies reports the findings of the which ran from 2009-2011, funded by the EPSRC Sustainable Environment programme, in collaboration with Exeter (the lead partner), Cranfield, Bradford and Surrey universities:
The aim of this multi-disciplinary research was to examine the practical benefits and challenges involved in the design, masterplanning and delivery of integrated water and energy utility services to achieve targets for sustainable urban development. The main case study was of the urban development project in Ashford in Kent, one of the UK government’s designated growth areas.
Progress towards sustainable development such as zero carbon footprint, ecological housing and energy reduction is gathering pace in the UK and worldwide. It is considered that synergies, innovation, cost savings and environmental benefits can be obtained through more holistic thinking, different scales of provision and by greater integration between different utility services. These developments sparked the formation of new business models including integrated utility companies labelled ESCo (Energy Services Company) and MUSCo (Multi-Utility Services Company).
Imperial’s component of this research, primarily undertaken by Dr Jens Roehrich, was to place the study of Ashford in a wider context of emerging multi-utility services business models in sustainable urban infrastructure development projects. We produced in-depth case studies of two projects in the UK: Ashford and the Elephant and Castle redevelopment project in London. We also conducted a study of Chula Vista in San Diego in the USA to provide an international comparison. Working in collaboration with utility companies, councils and other stakeholders, the case studies identify the design capabilities, innovative solutions and organisational challenges that organisations face when moving into the provision of integrated energy or multi-utility services in nascent markets for sustainable urban development.