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Ronita Bardhan

Resilient Cooling in Poverty in the global South

Lent 2020-2021

Tuesday, 2 March 2021


Future cities of the Global South will not only rapidly urbanise but will also get warmer from climate change and urbanisation induced effects. It will trigger a multi-fold increase in cooling demand, especially at a residential level. This talk will focus on what is the meaning of thermal comfort in low-income housing of India and how the cooling needs are transitioning. It will critically look at how built environment design potentially changes the cooling demand rising from externalities of aspirational western life. Further it will discuss the crucial policy implications towards the design and implementation of a national level cooling action plans in the future cities of the Global South to meet the UN-SDG – _7 (clean and affordable energy) and SDG – _11 (sustainable cities and communities) targets.


Dr Ronita Bardhan is an architectural engineer and urban studies educator, with a PhD in urban engineering. She believes that data-driven intelligence of built environments can effectively address sustainability goals and policies. Her research is in the niche sector of the sustainable built environment to inform health and energy decisions in the changing climate and low-income communities. Bardhan uses data-driven methods that couples architectural engineering, AI and machine learning with social sciences to provided built environment solutions for health in resources constraint societies. Her tractable research informs demand-side design solutions using digital tools which positively affects well-being, energy security, and gender equality while entailing fewer environmental risks. Bardhan works in Slum Rehabilitation (social) housing (in India, Indonesia, Ethiopia, South Africa and Brazil). Her impactful work has received traction from policymakers and has received wide coverage in the news media. Ronita is part of AI for Environmental Risk, Cambridge Public Health, Centre for Science and Policy, Cambridge Zero , Cambridge Global Challenges and Sustainability Leadership for Built Environment (IDBE). She is Director of MPhil in Architecture and Urban Studies (MAUS) and leads the Sustainable Design Group at the Martin Centre: Sustainable buildings and cities, Department of Architecture. Dr Bardhan is Director of Studies and Fellow in Architecture at Selwyn College in Cambridge. Bardhan Chairs the Equality Diversity Inclusivity Committee at the Department of Architecture and History of Arts and is strongly committed to and is an ardent advocate of the shared vision of equality, diversity, inclusion, and belonging in all spheres of her research and teaching. She believes that everyone benefits from strength in difference and that diversity is instrumental to success.

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