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Climate change board game could be a game-changer

A group of young people have joined forces with researchers and planners to create Climania, a new board game for communities to learn about the impact of the built environment on climate change.

Climania is available to download, print and play for free. It tasks participants with retrofitting properties – the process of adding additional technology to their homes - while facing different environmental challenges and opportunities.

The Climate Action Game project, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and supported by Birmingham Architectural Association and the Royal Town Planning Institute West Midlands, brought together 13 young people aged 14-18 from Balsall Heath in the south of Birmingham.

Players take turns answering questions about climate and built environment issues, building up their climate change knowledge to win retrofit components and race against time to reach the centre of the board, reinforcing the message of rising global temperatures. The game stimulates creativity, discussions and collaboration.

It aims to educate people about the impact of homes and the built environment on climate change, and how retrofitting buildings could play a vital role in cutting the demand for energy to heat homes and water, achieving energy security and delivering climate goals.

Principal Investigator on the project was Simeon Shtebunaev, Doctoral Researcher and Lecturer at Birmingham City University and RTPI West Midlands Young Planner of the Year, who specialises in youth engagement in the built environment. He also collaborated with RTPI member and regional board member Claudia Carter and Stephanie Eastwood, RTPI West Midlands chair.

Simeon said: “CLIMANIA is a demonstration of the untapped potential and innovativeness that teenagers can contribute to climate action research. The board game can spark inter-generational discussions at home, in boardrooms and in the public realm about the need to retrofit our dilapidated homes and pay attention to the built environment when it comes to climate mitigation!”

The young people interviewed more than 30 people from within their communities to find out about their climate concerns. Four external professionals helped to produce the game and testing was held with over fifty people ranging from teenagers to pensioners.

John Christophers, chartered architect and client design adviser at Zero Carbon House said: “This game could be a game-changer. We’re campaigning for ambitious community-led Retrofit in Balsall Heath, and have found the CLIMANIA game a wonderful help. It is a great way of engaging and informing people about the potential and detail of domestic retrofit, in a scientifically rigorous but accessible way.”

Climania is now available for the public to access and download to help boost awareness of major issues of climate change in urban areas.


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