(Unedited) Podcast Transcript 370: Planning for Underground Cities

February 16, 2022

This week we’re joined by Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz, lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Dr. Bidarmaghz discusses planning for underground infrastructure and why it’s so important for the future of cities including underground climate change, coordination among long term projects, and putting appropriate land uses in better places.

To listen to this episode, check it out on Streetsblog USA or our hosting archive at Libsyn.

Below is a full unedited transcript of the show.

Jeff Wood (43s):
Dr. Asal. Bidarmaghz welcome to the Talking Headways

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (1m 12s):
Well, thank you very much for having me well,

Jeff Wood (1m 16s):
Thanks for being here before we get started. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (1m 19s):
Sure. I’m Asal, Bidarmaghz, I’m a lecturer in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. And my research is focused on urban underground climate change and sustainable underground development in major cities.

Jeff Wood (1m 34s):
What got you into that? I mean, what got you into cities first of all, and then what got you interested in underground cities and underground infrastructure for that matter?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (1m 41s):
I did my PhD in shallow geothermal technologies and it was from then that they noticed that apart from that source of energy, that exists due to the geothermal energy in subsurface, due to Haim activities, we are generating a lot of heat in urban subsurface through underground structures, development, et cetera. So then it was then that we realized that we have a much more significant potential of every source of energy that we used to think before. That’s why my research is on quantifying the extent of underground climate change in urban areas. And from there estimating the geothermal potential in those cities as a source of free energy to provide heating and cooling Cutwater for major cities.

Jeff Wood (2m 25s):
So what kind of climate change are we seeing below the surface? I mean, obviously there’s a huge discussion about what’s going on on the surface and there’s a large discussion, the urban community about things like urban heat island effects and those types of things. So what is it below the ground that’s changing as well?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (2m 39s):
This is exactly the same thing is quite analogous to what we know as the global climate change. When we talk about urban climate change is when we are disturbing the temperature distribution of urban subsurface, as well as the groundwater distribution, which will have several consequences from urban planning to engineering aspects, to environmental problems. So we are mostly talking about thermal and its implications on the hydrology, on the structural stability in underground.

Jeff Wood (3m 9s):
So the, the article that I noticed I wanted to chat with you about, because I was super fascinated by the piece put out by the university of new south Wales about your work on underground city plans. Why would a city want to create a plan for their below ground infrastructure? I mean, we have city plans for the surface, but why would they want to go and think about undergrad?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (3m 26s):
Yeah, that’s a very good question. I guess it is somehow it is getting the new trend in some major populated cities that we have gone enough upward and outward, and then it’s now to go underground. And it’s all about the fact that the premium land is limited and is already taken. And if you want to live within a city, definitely one way is going down. And these are the hops years ago, decades ago. There was another reason for that, for example, due to safety when it was war time or because of the climate conditions and cold climate regions. But these days, if you look at Singapore, for example, thinking of their subterranean city, the main reason for that is that day thing.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (4m 9s):
They have to accommodate a huge amount of residents, a number of residents in the future to keep help the economy. And that’s the, the small island and they have to go underground. And this will happen in many other cities. If you look at New York is also somehow congested and in Australia, perhaps we don’t have that problem yet because Australia is a huge island. We don’t suffer from space limitations yet, but we will get there as cities will not grow as quickly as they used to grow. Whereas population in the cities is increasing rapidly, not only Australia, but around the world. So the main reason these days for going underground is space. That’s why we put our tunnels underground. The same reason can be why not putting our retail and entertainment spaces underground.

Jeff Wood (4m 53s):
It’s really interesting. You, you mentioned Singapore. And one of the things that has been interesting about what they’ve done is performed their land, use laws specifically to kind of take away property ownership below their basements, which I thought was really interesting. Our mineral and land rights specifically like major obstacles to underground policy and a lot of places.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (5m 10s):
Absolutely. Yes. And that’s one of the things that must be addressed from the very beginning, for example, in the UK, it’s like you own from heaven to hell, and that must change if they want to. And they are actually going to use underground way more than they used to use. And these are the first of those policies that need to be changed to just prevent some private land issues, et cetera.

Jeff Wood (5m 32s):
How would a municipality or a city you go about making those changes? Is it just a simple, you know, zoning or land use law change, or is it even more complicated because it’s underground and it’s kind of a survey issue and people probably don’t really know what the subsurface, you know, rocks are, or those geological issues are et cetera.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (5m 50s):
From the land law point of view. I don’t think it’s going to be a very complicated, but I’m not expert is not my forte, but I don’t think it’s going to be a very thing. It’s only prevents some over excavations and over utilization by private sectors, as it used to happen. For example, in London, we used to see basements up to 20 meter below surface, private basements with car parks, with tennis courts, with many entertainment areas. So that will definitely be stopped. But from there, for example, the engineering point of view or what is happening on the ground, as I mentioned earlier, I think we can definitely classify the most important challenges into three, four categories. One is the urban planning or subsurface Aaron’s subsurface planning issues.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (6m 33s):
First of all, we have to know what is going on underground at the moment. And this is dynamic and then have a good idea that what will happen, what are the future scenarios to be able to map subsurface properly in big cities and then get to a sustainable planning when we don’t have any idea of what are our varied assets, what are the utilities? What is exactly going on? What are the high voltage cables or switch system? We cannot really think of a comprehensive urban subsurface plan for many years to come like a long-term plan. This is one thing to address. The other thing is that from the engineering point of view so far, when we want to construct a tunnel or any underground structure, the most important thing is that.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (7m 16s):
So well, of course the tunnels mostly go under the transport tunnels under the city. Also, as long as the ground is stable enough, then that’s doable and we can excavate and we can have a stable structure. That’s it. However, this is not the only thing that we should consider. We have to think of what will be the plan in 50 years in 100 years, if I construct my tunnel at this location today, would that prevent any further sustainable developments in the future? This is something that we do not look at, not in Australia, not everywhere else that I am aware of in some countries like the us or UK, they’ve started to looking at it with a huge help from, for example, British village got survey coming into play for mapping subsurface, but in many big cities, it hasn’t happened yet.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (7m 60s):
And the other thing is that, which might not be as much of interest to engineers, but from the environmental point of view, what are we really doing into the environmental aspects of this, the groundwater? What if the groundwater temperature goes high significantly? What will happen to all the species living in that groundwater under cities? Is this something, or what will happen to the safety of that groundwater? If it is a drinking water, what are the chemical reaction that might happen due to the temperature increase? So there are so many aspects that we can look at it. It is definitely beyond engineering. It is urban planning. It is environmental. It is policymaking.

Jeff Wood (8m 35s):
There’s a really interesting example going on right now in Seattle. For example, they’ve just built a highway tunnel underneath downtown. They have a subsurface tunnel for light rail. That was a bus tunnel before. And now they’re thinking about building another light rail tunnel under that. And as you know, Seattle’s kind of a narrow isthmus in the center. And so the discussions are that you’re going to have like basically a 10 minute to descent to get to that lower station. And so maybe if they would have planned it differently, you would have had a more sustainable connection between all of these infrastructures, but doing it one by one piecemeal has really kind of made a mess

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (9m 9s):
At the moment. It is first in first serve policy, in my opinion. And as you said, it’s a 10 minute time to get to that station. And at the moment that part in Seattle, it might not be dealing with underground Thailand island, for example. But if in the future, and we are talking about 50 years, you’re talking about if the same thing that is happening to London underground, which is overheated because the soil surrounding is, is overheated due to the extreme utilization. If that happens to Seattle underground, then who can tolerate that 10 minutes commute to get to that point or how much then we have to put as retrofitting the ventilation system, because we did not plan it well today. Then we have to pay a large amount of extra amount of money on that to retrofit them that ventilation.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (9m 54s):
And it’s still not sustainable because heat will be accumulated in the ground unless we extract it and use it elsewhere or replying it well in advance.

Jeff Wood (10m 3s):
Really interesting. You know, I’ve been in the London underground in the summer and in the New York city subway in the summer. And there are days when it’s just insufferable. You, you really don’t want to be down there.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (10m 12s):
Yeah, that’s true. And you get the notice that elderly and young children are encouraged not to use underground on hot summer days and that’s London, right? It’s quite populated even in Sydney. Sydney is not that populated yet, but in Sydney in Alton time, there are some stations that when we step into the station, even though the transport tunnels are quite young in Australia, but still the can feel that heat coming from the platform. So this is, we have all the evidence, but I don’t know why we are just ignoring it. What is that

Jeff Wood (10m 41s):
He come from, is it come from the trains and the propulsion systems? Or is it other mechanisms?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (10m 46s):
Yeah, it comes from the trains from people from engines, brakes, that’s where the heat comes from. And naturally the soil surrounding the tunnels has the responsibility to, to absorb this hits. But after awhile, because that’s special, right? The heat goes from higher temperature lower, but after a while, because soil temperature is also increasing continuously, it cannot do its job properly. So it’s not absorbing enough heat. So then his gets trapped in the tunnels. And as soon as it finds its way, it goes to the surface.

Jeff Wood (11m 17s):
When you ask people about sustainability and underground systems, what’s the response typically to folks that you talk to about this government officials, others, I’m curious because, you know, we were talking about climate change on the surface and that’s kind of fraught with its own complications on people who may not believe that that’s actually happening, but you know, subsurface, that’s a whole other conversation as well. It seems like what’s the response been when you mentioned that these topics

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (11m 39s):
It’s very much depends where on this file, you’re asking these questions, for example, in London or in England, this is more welcomed because they have been suffering from this issues and it is quite tangible. And then it’s quite rational for them to think of a solution for such problem, even though it’s still not that close to where it is meant to be, but they’re working towards that. Whereas in Australia that like young country, the focus is so much at this moment on the infrastructure itself, then they sort of, you know, associated problems is not paid enough attention yet. And I think it’s old to us as researchers and media, I guess, to somehow highlight the problem in a, in an understandable manner to get industry and government on board at this point of time at this minute, I’m, I’m speaking to you.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (12m 32s):
I don’t think we have any initiative for the so-called underground climate change or underground hit Thailand in Australia. I am one of the very few just pushing for it, hoping that this field, and we will get somewhere because research is going ahead and we have enough evidence to show. Yeah. So that’s where we are at the moment.

Jeff Wood (12m 53s):
If you’re building a lot of underground tunnels, what’s the best way to make sure that they coordinate with future projects. Is it a long range plan? Are there other ways to do it? What’s the best way to kind of go about it?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (13m 3s):
First of all, we have to consider that tunnels are not the only structures that are meant to be underground. The whole idea about utilization of underground is actually moving more things or creating more spaces underground, not only for transport, but also for other things that is when we cannot imagine that the whole subsurface of a city is packed with tunnels. Criss-crossing one another. This is definitely from the engineering point of view. It’s also not doable today. We might be able to do that because there are not that many, but when are too many, then the vibration, the heat, the structure, instability, et cetera, it will actually make life much more difficult above ground.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (13m 43s):
So when we talk about expanding the underground network, we definitely, in my opinion, we also have to think what will be the population of this specific city in 50 years? What is our plan to accommodate? And what is our plan about the serviceability for the city? Do we have enough space above ground to provide them with retail entertainment? Anything that you do not spend a long time in therapy? In my opinion can go underground upon a very precise planning. So these are the things that we have to consider. For example, if in Australia, we believe that we are aiming for 40 million instead of 20 million people in 20, 25 years, then where are they going to live?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (14m 26s):
You cannot send them then a hundred kilometers away from the city and they have to commute to the city every day. That’s impossible. So that is actually sort of planning that is needed. It’s not all about transport. It’s about many other things. Thinking of like looking at Helsinki as the most successful underground example, they use the urban underground for many purposes, not only transport, which have, they have miles, hundreds of miles of tunnels, but also museum swimming, carting, and many other things. So in my opinion, why not us? Why can’t be, think of something like that. And that’s, if it wants to, even if you think that is doable in 50 years time, we have to think of it now because we don’t want to have an congested underground than what has happened to the cities, right?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (15m 11s):
With all these high rises, et cetera, we just, because we’ve had space, we put them all one next to another. Now we have to deal with urban heat island effects and how to decrease temperature in cities here in Australia. Again, Sydney is not populated as London is, or as New York, but invest in Sydney. We are, people are suffering so much due to the very high temperatures in summertime. It’s even sometimes 10 degrees integral at higher than the Eastern part. And that’s his Thailand, if it gets extreme case of your Thailand effect and they have to, they’re thinking of so many initiatives to somehow get rid of that heat. So, yeah,

Jeff Wood (15m 47s):
It’s interesting because you know, I, I have noticed some of those images of the swimming pools in Finland. And it’s interesting to think about what goes below and or what can go below and what goes above. I’m guessing that housing and other things are more, even if you can build light Wells and those types of things, they’re more likely to be above ground. Cause people like light and, you know, vitamin D is very important to humans, but there are things that can go underground. And so you mentioned a couple of them, but what is the distinction you, you mentioned kind of the time that you might spend in a place, but it’s not just transportation, it’s obviously entertainment and other things, but places where you maybe casinos, cause they want you to be in a dark room anyway.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (16m 24s):
Yeah. Do you mind spending two hours in a cinema, whether it is above or underground, if it is well ventilated, do you mind is I don’t mind theater. So these are sort of things. I mean, this is my opinion. And I think because if it go to the public and say that, okay, everybody, we are going underground, we are living underground. That’s a bit, you know, it’s not real. And I don’t think there is a general acceptance towards that. But to, in my opinion, anything that you only spent a couple of hours in there can move underground. The grocery shopping can move underground. For example, art galleries can move underground. I say, I think it’s even more attractive if it’s all those lightings, et cetera. And don’t, you don’t have natural light for art galleries and things like that.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (17m 4s):
So there are many, many, many things then can move on. And if you think of the space that these sort of things are already occupied and above ground in major cities that will basically make available huge space, both ground, all the shopping centers, et cetera, if they can move underground and then they can have more green spaces above grant instead to fight with the climate change and his island. So above ground underground climate issues go hand in hand, I believe

Jeff Wood (17m 30s):
It seems like it might be the perfect spot for somebody big box stores or something along those lines where we already have an environmental issue with them. You know, one of the things that it’s interesting reading this piece and thinking about kind of science fiction and those types of ideas of underground cities in the star wars universe, which is, I mean, I’m a huge fan of star wars listeners now know, and maybe they’re tired of me talking about it, but it’s interesting a whole planet. That’s a city obviously croissant. And then there’s, you know, different planets that have different kind of city makeups. And one of them is one where, you know, basically the surface of the planet and they have big holes and you descend to the hole and it’s called . And there are cities, you know, around the center of this kind of huge shaft that goes to the center of the, of the planet.

Jeff Wood (18m 10s):
And it’s just fascinating to think about that as, as a form that could possibly be followed in the future in one way or another.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (18m 17s):
That’s also a good thing because the community between above or under guys, something to consider, that’s also part of the big planning and well having a whole city underground might make sense at some point, but not when you have to, you have to still stay connected to above ground. So I think the commute, the emergency considerations, et cetera, is something that is very important. We have to, as you said, you have to think of it now instead of just using this urban subsurface in an unplanned manner, and then think of, okay, what happens in case of emergency or quick or Vino does that, all the things that that’s why I’m saying it’s not on an engineering show, many different disciplines should come together to work towards that competent with a master plan for underground.

Jeff Wood (19m 4s):
That’s a really important point. I mean, life safety systems. And we talk about this when we talk about transportation, but you know, when you think about, you know, putting movie theaters and other things underground, you have to have emergency exits for fires and those types of things. So life safety issues are almost even bigger when you’re going underground because you have to have exits to get to somewhere else.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (19m 22s):
Yeah, absolutely. And that’s not going to be easy to address and consider that that’s a whole other thing to consider.

Jeff Wood (19m 29s):
You had mentioned earlier, the kind of the land regulations in, in places like England, where people are designing these iceberg houses, do you have any thoughts on the public versus the private of this, all people using it for their own, you know, skirting of the existing rules above ground versus the public’s.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (19m 45s):
Yeah, these are private and those are mostly in very push boroughs in London, for example, in Kensington and Chelsea, because I was working on this project. So I had to understand exactly how many of these massive underground spaces private ones exist at that time saver around 100 ish and that’s borough, which would go definitely beyond 18 meter below surface. And they were all private. And the rule at that time was that everyone can actually go underground by the 50% of their land area. They can go underground if that makes sense. But then that was stopped because the public perception was not quite acceptable to watch that because it was something for very rich people.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (20m 28s):
And, but that stopped, but there are already plenty in some boroughs, but they were all private.

Jeff Wood (20m 33s):
Yes. Why do you think people are frustrated by something they can’t see? Was it just because people were taking the land away from future public use or was it feeling like they were skirting the rules because they’re going down instead of going up?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (20m 44s):
Yeah, no, I wish people would actually have the idea of that they’re taking the land for future right now. That was because that actually disturbed one of the problems with the flooding hazards because it disturbs the groundwater flow to a very deep depth and then it will increase flooding hazards for the neighborhood. At the same time, the excavations, the vibrations, the disturbance to the neighborhood is just, it was huge. So these are the reasons that it was not accepted

Jeff Wood (21m 10s):
And the ground water, the water table kind of discussions. Interesting too. I mean, a place like Houston, the water table is very, very high and it’s unlikely that you would, I mean, you have an underground kind of mall in downtown Houston, but it’s unlikely that you’d have more just because of the risks of hurricanes and those types of things, but in a place like Helsinki, you have a very Rocky underground. And so what are the geologic systems or structure that has to be available for an underground system to be considered?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (21m 35s):
Yeah, so that’s, that’s something that’s very important from the engineering point of view. But if you look at the current state of underground structures, we have managed to build tunnels in every geological formation. Basically some are simple if it is within rocks, but we have to, of course, more effort into the excavation. Some are easy for excavation, but more difficult for us stability. So that’s exactly the same thing. If you have groundwater, you have to somehow prevent that groundwater to just flowing into your construction site. And then when it is constructed, it will find its own way. But that groundwater table fluctuations on something very important. This is also should be part of the planning.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (22m 16s):
When we say that the consequences are either thermal or hydro like hydrology or mechanical, which is all about the stability of the soil or the structures. So that is also something because with one or two tunnels that groundwater table fluctuations will be manageable. But if, if you have more efficient putting more and more spaces, then water needs to find its own way. But we are definitely increasing the flood hazards in some areas at the spots, in some other areas, we are messing too much with the groundwater table, which will have some environmental impacts. Of course,

Jeff Wood (22m 52s):
Yeah. Here in San Francisco. I know that I think for the central subway, at least they are talking about the problems with navigating an underground river that existed. And, and obviously nobody sees it on the surface, but they’re all there and the exist underground. And so navigating those natural obstacles is a tough deal for a lot of engineering. Yeah, absolutely. What’s so special about Helsinki’s underground plan,

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (23m 12s):
But I think Helsinki is one of the very first cities in the world that started looking at that. It actually started around, I guess, 1930s around that time, but cold war was a problem to my understanding. And then, so they can, they went underground for safety reasons, but because they’re sitting on a very stable formation, they continue doing that. And then it was 1980s that they started to massively utilize underground. And that’s actually, because I guess the reason that they decided to do so, it’s not what people think, okay. They were running away from cold, I think because they observe the points and the value of that, maintaining their vegetation built ratio above ground and then easily move underground and enjoy it.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (24m 3s):
And it is a tourist attraction and has made life easier for people. So that’s why Helsinki is one of the most successful cities with underground plants.

Jeff Wood (24m 13s):
And they were the first one with a plan. And you mentioned Singapore as well. What are some of the other cities that have started making plans for their underground systems?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (24m 20s):
I know Hong Kong is also caught going towards that. That makes sense, but that is they’re suffering from them space, limitations. London is looking into it, but they are going through a more planned procedure to first mapping on the ground, understanding what’s going on. So, cause I, I worked at Cambridge university for a while on the same project. So it was then that we initiated to, we started to look at, okay, what is the current temperature distribution underneath London? And some other organizations like British geological survey, trying to map from the geological and from the utilities and buried assets, point of view, what is going on when we merge these together, then we can definitely have a better idea of what’s going well, where can be built, where we can not.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (25m 13s):
And another very important aspect to this utilization of underground is that the more we use the underground, the more we are increasing the soil temperature, which means that the more we have access to the free source of energy in cities, and we can just extract it through technologies like thermal ground source, heat pumps, heat exchanges, or energy to structures through which you actually attach or add or heat exchangers into your underground structures like tunnel. So make it energy tunnel or energy pile or energy retainable. And this will definitely help. That’s only with the CO2 emission and the fossil fuel issues, but also the field poverty, think of some areas in Europe or in the UK, in England, people suffering from this is a big issue.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (26m 2s):
People are suffering from fuel poverty because they cannot pay for it as energy bills. And that brings a lot into the energy equity, wherever this is applied, even in Australia, even though it is a young country, there are still because we are very much relying on electricity. So, and which comes from brown coal, then this will definitely help to barge the CO2 emission issues and also the fuel poverty that does exist in some parts of the country.

Jeff Wood (26m 30s):
That’s really interesting because I know here in the U S they’re starting to, you know, a lot of cities are starting to ban fossil fuels, specifically natural gas for heating and cooling for your stoves in inside houses because of the, you know, unknown amounts of methane that are being released. And so it could be that this is actually this underground planning could be a really strong solution for a lot of climate issues as well because of those heat pumps and thermal exchanges that you’re talking about.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (26m 55s):
Absolutely. So, absolutely. I have again, to have shown through research that even in a small borrow like a kilometer scale borrow, if you just use the heat that exists there, we can at least fulfill half of the gas demand of those, that area based on geothermal energy. And this is, this is massive. This is actually, this is a huge saving in terms of the CO2 emission. Yes. And for example, UC Berkeley is also was also involved in, in, in this urban climate change project. And they are also, they are working heavily towards utilization of underground understanding. Cause we’re also working together, understanding what’s going on the ground in urban areas and how to use that energy, how to bring the thermal balance to the ground.

Jeff Wood (27m 40s):
What’s most exciting about your work? What makes you get up in the morning? It was like, man, this is really cool. I really liked, I really enjoy doing this. And, and it’s fun to kind of learn new things about underground systems and anything else. I’m curious, what, what gets you excited about this?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (27m 55s):
But I think it’s the impact because I can, I can see that if it can make a difference, it’s not something fully theoretical that it takes years to get into practice. I can see the impact. If I have a solution, I have a solution it’s not only me there. I mean, we are working as a group, we have a solution and we know that the problem exists. As soon as the problem owners actually acknowledged their problem, then we can offer our solution to that. So, and that will solve significantly contribute to the climate change and energy issues around all over it.

Jeff Wood (28m 31s):
What do you wish people would ask you about the work that maybe they don’t talk about a lot? I mean, what are the, some of the things that obviously people are going to ask you about underground transportation systems and underground systems generally, and maybe throw out silly questions about fictional universes, but what are, what are some of the things that you wish people would talk more about?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (28m 51s):
Well, they wished that people would ask me or talk more about is instead of just looking at, just asking what would be the outcome and how would that change the life of the future generation, for example, what happens if we do not, instead of this is uncertain, we don’t know, and we don’t know what’s going on underground and it’s, it’s unknown. And we are working towards getting a better understanding. But at the end of the day, there’s really no way that they can know what is exactly happening on the ground. Right? There is always a bit of ambiguity to watch that, but what I wish people would consider or know is, or ask me is that if it continued doing what we are doing, what would be the outcome for them, the future generation.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (29m 34s):
And if you don’t, if you change the policies and change our habits now, then what would be the implications and how would that benefit the community?

Jeff Wood (29m 42s):
Have you done any kind of benchmarking or measurements of how much, you know, emissions reduction you could have by making some of these changes?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (29m 49s):
Yeah, so it very much depends on how much energy demand an area has got. But based on one of my cases, that is, this can actually, if we fulfill 50%, for example, off the gas demand of a borough, this can at least save 30% on the CO2 emission. It’s quite significant. Yeah, definitely. And then if, if the demand is higher elsewhere, definitely the savings is going to be higher in terms of the CO2 emissions. I think the way forward with this is us as researchers, we continue doing what we’re doing around the world, hopefully to get government on board, but also training is something that we shouldn’t underestimate.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (30m 31s):
So we have, once I started at USW for the first time, at least in Australia, I have developed and designed and develop the course on energy, do structures and underground climate change. So for the last three years, I have trained the next generation of energy and climate change advocates in Australia. So they join industry and they have already, some of them already have contacted me saying that, Hey, we have a project and we decided to put your thermal systems in there. So I think step-by-step, this is getting there. This is definitely more advanced in Europe. For example, Switzerland, they already have courses Italy. They do that. But in Australia, this is the first time this is happening. I’m very delighted for that.

Jeff Wood (31m 12s):
Awesome. Well, where can folks find your work if they want to learn more about what you’re doing?

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (31m 17s):
I’m a researcher. So most of my work is published in technical papers. So the easiest way is just, you know, going through our papers. But I understand that might be a bit boring for non academic people. So I think, yeah, these sort of media, or some of the articles for general public that I’ve got is the best. In addition to my technical articles on that,

Jeff Wood (31m 42s):
I’ll put a link up to your, your page at the university of new south

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (31m 44s):
Wales. That would be wonderful. Thank you

Jeff Wood (31m 46s):
So that folks can find links to the papers cause they’re all there. Well, assault, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate your time.

Dr. Asal Bidarmaghz (31m 53s):
Thank you so much for having me.

Listen to the Talking Headways Podcast


…the first thing I read every morning is the newsletter to see what’s been out there. It’s great to have an aggregator that pulls everything together so nicely.

Joe Cortright, City Observatory

I think that the email newsletter that you do every morning is the best one that I get, and I get a lot of them.

Mary Newsom, The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute

Really is the best daily urban newsletter out there.

Eric Jaffe, Editorial Director Sidewalk Labs


To Receive The Overhead Wire in Your Inbox Daily

Premium Daily Subscription

The Premium Daily Subscription is our most information packed offering, chock full of over 30 pieces of news every single day. Included are popular features such as the quote of the day and the most read article from the previous day. Also included is our weekly roundup for times when you are strapped for time but need to know what’s going on.

Premium Weekly Subscription

The Premium Weekly Subscription is for professionals constantly under a time crunch. We take the most read items from the week before and share them with subscribers along with more in depth analysis of a single popular topic.

Learn More and Subscribe

Top Links

of the past 48 hours

Video of the Day

Friends of The Overhead Wire

Back To Top

Welcome to The Overhead Wire

What Can We Help You Find?

Try Our Newsletter For Free