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Sustainability in Action

Future Skills Curriculum Development Framework

The development of the built environment brings challenges and significant responsibilities; not least protecting the environment. Therefore, the need to adopt effective, long-term sustainable development strategies starts with the integration of academic and practitioner education that can be translated into the curricula. 

The Higher Education Academy, Centre for Education in the Built Environment (CEBE) funded research therefore seeks to evaluate a flexible framework to support and inform built environment curricula needs, including sustainability, sustainable communities, carbon criticality, and modern construction methods. 

The research will explore current industry practices, map local and regional needs, identify good practice in curriculum development, devise a future skills curriculum framework, and integrate these into undergraduate engineering curricula, with a specific focus on how sustainability is embedded into selected civil engineering curricula. 

Through consultation with the HE built environment community, including industry and professional bodies, the research will be evaluated and the results disseminated to those associated in built environment education.

For more information email Dr Crina Oltean-Dumbrava at

Project Estate

Project Estate is the working title for the two year project which is being carried out between the University of Bradford and Incommunities Group Limited, which is a local company.

The project began in October 2010 and is supported by a Knowledge Transfer Partnership. This project  aims to provide people with access to sustainable “homes for life” or sustainably adapted existing homes, by creating a facilitating service (a specialist estate agency) for the private homes market / sector, that will efficiently recycle properties that have been adapted for disabled living. Thus making good use of prior investment in adaptation. 

Project Estate focuses on environmental, social and economic sustainability. By creating a sustainable business model, which matches disabled people with accessible property, each of the afore mentioned aspects of sustainability are impacted upon. By negating the need for major adaptations to properties carbon savings can be made.

The service will also provide the option for clients to have the recommendations made within the energy performance certificate carried out. 

It is inteneded that the project team develops a sustainable framework for a specialist estate agency service that can be rolled out initially across the Bradford district and eventually across the whole of the UK.

For more information email Dr Oltean-Dumbrava at

Tailoring of acoustic materials from polymeric waste

The difficulty associated with recycling cross-linked polymers means that there are a limited number of technical solutions for the efficient large scale recycling of polymeric waste. However, the resistance of nylon fibres and rubber to biodegradation, both of which are disposed of via landfill in significant volumes, suggests that effective remedial measures need to be taken to convert this waste stream into a resource.  

Much of the research to date into polymeric waste recycling involves a wide range of chemical processes, in which the waste is converted by breaking the polymers into monomers (Muzzy et al. 2005). Dr Amir Khan and his colleagues at the Bradford Centre for Sustainable Environments have developed a novel cold extrusion method that deals with plastic and elastomeric residues, i.e. those that come in a range of particle shapes and sizes, and that are costly to separate into well-defined particulates. 

Also, and of relevance to the novel processing of rubber crumbs in their new approach, is the fact that the binder is not used merely to glue particulates together, but is designed to foam thereby producing a secondary porosity. This is the fundamental difference between their work and the work previously carried out with rubber crumb and other elastomeric wastes.

Effectively, the process organises a micro-porosity within the macro-porosity of the particulates-particulates voids. Consolidation then becomes a second order parameter in the control of porous structure. A feature of the process chemistry, carried out conveniently at ambient temperature, is the ability to tune the binding foam so that it can be made more or less porous, thus enabling granulated polymeric waste to be recycled into materials with acoustic properties equal or better than those commercially available.

Acoustic performance of reconstituted granulated waste is not an inherent property, but depends upon numerous factors, including porosity, particle size distribution, flow resistivity and elastic moduli. These factors are controlled by the ratio of grains to fibres, type of adhesive and by other chemical additives used in the consolidation process.

Tailoring porous materials from recycled polymeric waste raises the question of how porosity, pore size distribution and elastic moduli can be controlled. In general, the creation of porosity within the structure requires a study of the physical and chemical processes at a molecular level. In this way, the grains/fibres are allowed to be securely bonded together to achieve a porous product with good acoustical properties. Thus it is possible in this fashion to prepare tailored materials from waste that have a specific absorbance to serve a specific function.

For more information email Dr Amir Khan at