Friday, 20 April 2018 11:47

Penrith bus shelter beats the heat

Newly installed Climate Adapted People Shelter at Nepean Hospital, Penrith. Newly installed Climate Adapted People Shelter at Nepean Hospital, Penrith. Penrith City Council

A new bus shelter has been installed on Derby Street, Kingswood - a Climate Adapted People Shelter (CAPS).

The CAPS project addressed the complex challenges of public exposure to urban heat and the need for smarter public transport infrastructure to improve liveability of cities. 

Over the past 100 years, heatwaves have caused more deaths in Australia than any other natural hazard. By 2030, Western Sydney is projected to experience up to 7 additional days above 35°C per year placing exposed communities at heightened risk, including Sydney’s bus users. The elderly, the mobility, vision and hearing impaired, as well as the very young are often most heavily dependent on public transport and among the most vulnerable to the effects of urban heat.

CAPS aimed to reimagine Sydney’s bus shelters as climate adapted people shelters through an open innovation design competition, involving transport users, local councils, planning and transport authorities, and the community.  The design competition component was run by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) in collaboration with local and state government, and sought designs to maximise thermal performance and user comfort, as well as building in technology to aid commuters.

Eight possible locations across Western Sydney were identified in high-traffic, high-heat areas, with teams able to pick one or more of the sites to inspire the design of their shelter.

The winning team, MM Creative addressed challenges at a bus stop in Penrith. The stop is located across the road from Nepean Hospital and is frequented by frail, elderly and disabled people. “Commuters told us that the direct sunlight and lack of shade led people to wait inside the medical centre behind the bus shelter, which had air conditioning”, MM Project Manager Liam O’Brien said. “This often resulted in them missing the bus. The elderly in particular struggle to make the bus when it arrives.”

Key features of the design include a distinctive roof with the shape modelled on an endangered bird species that is native to Western Sydney – the Whistling Kite. The shelter provides a greater overhang based on solar modelling to provide more shade to shelter users at hot times of the day.  The shelter is designed to include cross flow ventilation to remove any heat that accumulates under the shelter roof, which is also insulated to minimise heat gain to the shelter. It also includes solar powered LED lighting for safety.

Penrith Mayor Cr John Thain said the new shelter was a great idea and hopefully the first of its kind.

"The new design will provide greater protection from the summer heat, and we hope it can be used as a blueprint for wider application in Sydney and beyond," Cr Thain said.

"The project challenged participants to come up with an innovative, smart, climate adapted design for bus shelters in Western Sydney.

"This initiative is part of Council's Cooling the City Strategy. Western Sydney can experience extreme temperatures and this strategy is working to cool the city and improve the liveability of Penrith for our community.

"Cooling the City identifies bus stops as one of the places where the community is likely to be most vulnerable to heat, especially in priority hotspot areas across the city. The location of the new shelter is one of these priority hotspots," he said.

The team from Micron Manufacturing worked with Penrith City Council to refine, build and install the design as a prototype with installation taking place in November 2017. The new shelter was built next to the existing shelter, allowing direct comparison of the design.

Following its installation researchers from UTS’s Institute for Sustainable Futures undertook on-site monitoring to directly compare the performance of the CAPS shelter with the nearby existing shelter. Users were also surveyed to obtain their feedback both with the performance of the shelter, but also with the design and ‘feel’ of the shelter.

The quantitative monitoring of the shelter demonstrated that it was possible through the incorporation of specific design elements to influence user thermal comfort within the shelters.

The elements of the design most important to reducing temperature were the provision of additional shade from the larger roof, the insulated roof and placement of seating with respect to shade. Monitoring demonstrated that the CAPS shelter was up to 4°C cooler than the older style bus shelter. Similarly, the older style shelter had higher roof temperatures for most of the day, with peak temperatures of up to 15°C higher than the CAPS shelter.

Feedback from shelter users was overwhelmingly positive, with users remarking on the improved visual amenity, the perception of cooler ambient temperatures and improved thermal comfort in the new shelter.

The results provide Councils with solid evidence to consider in the design of future bus shelters to maximise protection from heat. This could include incorporating key elements of the Modus design which influenced thermal comfort for users, particularly the larger roof and the insulation.

The CAPS project was a partnership between Penrith, and the former Parramatta, Ashfield and Canterbury Councils, along with the University of Technology Sydney's Institute for Sustainable Futures, U.lab and Centre for Management & Organisation Studies, the NSW Climate Adaptation Research Hub and the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University. It has also been assisted by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, and supported by Local Government NSW.

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 May 2018 14:56