The Environmental Research Institute (ERI) is the focal point for many of the “green” research activities across UCC. The Institute brings together over 300 environmental researchers from across science, engineering, business and humanities to address complex environmental challenges in a multi-disciplinary approach. The ERI also incorporates a number of environmental research centres including Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI), Aquaculture and Fisheries Development Centre (AFDC) and the Centre for Research on Atmospheric Chemistry (CRAC).
The Institute fosters a broad approach to environmental research that ranges from “blue skies” research aimed at new knowledge creation, to applied research designed to generate solutions to specific environmental challenges through to contract-based work for industry and Government bodies. This breadth of research enables a seamless transmission of new knowledge from laboratory to industry/policy for the benefit of all in society. The interdisciplinary research environment at the ERI enables researchers to work together in large, multi-skilled teams that draw on each discipline’s core competences to address scientific questions of environmental relevance in a synergistic manner
Designed as a “Living Laboratory”, the ERI building has numerous “green” design features, and has itself been used to study occupant behaviour in “smart” buildings.
MaREI is a marine and renewable energy research, development and innovation Centre supported by Science Foundation Ireland. It combines the expertise of a wide range of research groups and industry partners, with the shared mission of solving the main scientific, technical and socio-economic challenges across the marine and renewable energy sectors. MaREI is coordinated by the ERI and has over 200 researchers working across 6 academic institutions collaborating with over 45 industry partners. More information on MaREI can be found at via the Centre’s website.
MaREI is hosted at the Beaufort Research building in Ringaskiddy and combines the excellent track record of UCC’s Hydraulics and Maritime Research Centre (HMRC), the Coastal and Marine Research Centre (CMRC) and the Sustainable Energy Research Group (SERG), in this field.
UCC Climate Lab is an initiative of the ERI to bring together internationally leading researchers to provide a platform for collaborative, integrated research enabling the transition to a zero carbon and climate resilient economy and society. It has over 100 live research projects focused on climate change ranging from energy modelling, marine renewables, biofuels, building national platforms to support adaptation, climate technologies, atmospheric chemistry and financial appraisal of renewable energy assets and carbon liabilities.
The aim of UCC Climate Lab is to provide cutting edge knowledge and solutions to enable a smooth transition to a zero carbon and climate resilient society in Ireland, and facilitate a full exploitation of the economic and societal opportunities arising from this zero carbon transition. For more information on Climate Lab, and to keep informed of their seminar series, visit the group’s website.
The ERI have significant research strengths in the area of climate change, in particular energy modelling, and hold observer status on the UNFCCC. The institution has sent delegations to COP 21 and COP 22, and COP23. At COP 21, the delegation, led by Prof Brian Ó Gallachoir, held a side event entitled Equitable Decarbonisation of the Global Energy System where they presented results of research carried out on an equitable approach to meeting the 2 degree cap on human induced global warming.
In addition, Dr Áine Ryall (School of Law/ERI) and Dr Margaret Desmond (MaREI/ERI) have been appointed to the Citizens’ Assembly Expert Advisory Group for the topic “How the State Can Make Ireland a Leader in Tackling Climate Change”. The Expert Advisory Group has been established to assist the work of the Assembly in terms of preparing information and advice and is comprised of academics/practitioners across a number of specific fields of interest. The Group supports the Chair and Secretariat in constructing a fair, balanced and comprehensive work programme for the Assembly on each of the topics it is tasked with examining.
The UN Environment GEMS/Water Capacity Development Centre was founded in 2015 to provide global capacity development in water quality monitoring and assessment. The importance of good quality freshwater for health and development have recently been highlighted by the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals.
A Centre of the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences and the ERI, it employs five core staff and a network of water experts from the Environmental Protection Agency, DCU, NUI Galway, Trinity College Dublin and Sligo IT. The centre “will be bringing GEMS/Water up-to-date by using e-learning technology for training and education programmes that will equip developing countries with the knowledge to make use of the latest approaches to monitoring and managing water quality,” according to Dr Debbie Chapman, BEES