The Glasgow Climate Neutral Innovation District is part of the Glasgow City Council's greenprint for investment. It's a wide ranging and experimental initiative looking at a range of measures within a whole systems approach to facilitate a large scale transition to a more sustainable and climate ready innovation district.

Strathclyde University in close collaboration with Glasgow City Council and a range of stakeholders from across the city is leading this ground breaking project. The bold vision they outline is of a district which is energy carbon neutral in operation and climate resilient (i.e. able to withstand reduce and recover from the effects or possible effect of climate impacts).

This project is not a single idea or concept. It looks at all aspects of the Innovation District area which could contribute to carbon neutrality and climate resilience.

The streets within the district will become climate and energy corridors enabling local communities to benefit from low carbon heat, power, improved transport, cycling and walking options. This in turn will provide space for people to move safely and more easily, air quality will improve and there will be a focus on greening the space and allowing nature to flourish. It is believed that this will drive significant health and wellbeing benefits for those living and working in the area.

A number of projects are underway within the Strathclyde University campus including development of a new technology and innovation centre (TIC) building which will adopt the leading low energy Passivhaus standard.

It will adopt climate change adaptation solutions such as rain gardens, sustainable urban drainage systems, blue and green roofs and green infrastructure which encourages biodiversity and rainwater harvesting. Once complete, the TIC will house a number of innovative businesses wishing to locate and grow within the area which aligns with a more general goal of encouraging forward thinking sustainability focused businesses to the district.

One of the most eye catching projects is the proposal to exploit the huge energy potential of the River Clyde to provide heat to businesses, residents and large energy users within the district. The river catchment adjacent to the innovation district is believed to have an estimated 1 GW of heat potential which would be sufficient to sustainably heat all of the homes and businesses within the innovation district.

This wide whole systems approach aims to integrate heat, power, transport climate adaptation and wellbeing solutions to benefit all within the Glasgow City Innovation District. It involves bringing together a range of measures and interventions to make use of local natural and physical resources and working with Glasgow City Council to bring climate friendly solutions into existing and long term development plans for the area.

It will also involve creating new rules and procedures to be followed. The City planners will have a hand in making the District happen by imposing planning conditions for any development within the District. With backing from central government, new laws and an extension to the low emission zone for Glasgow may also be needed to protect the zone and sustain its climate neutral status. For example, all petrol and diesel vehicles could be prohibited from entering the zone. Utilities may be restricted to renewable sources only long before that is the case for the rest of the country.

Many of these ideas are big and bold but in order to take on the very significant climate challenges before us we must have the courage to push boundaries, to encourage and value innovation and to trial and develop new technologies and approaches.

Fitting perhaps then in an area which was the original birthplace of Glasgow that it now has the potential to become the birthplace of a new and innovative range of ideas, technologies and approaches aimed at creating a sustainable, carbon neutral, climate resilient district with wellbeing and place firmly at its heart.