Dr Warathida CHAIYAPA (Thailand)

Warathida’s interdisciplinary research seeks to shed light on the climate change mitigation through promoting energy efficiency in the building sector of urban areas. She is studying the possibility of implementing zero-energy building technology reflecting the fact that people have to stay at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

PhD in Sustainability Science

Current position: Lecturer at Chiang Mai University School of Public Policy, Thailand

Research focus: energy transition and climate change policy in Thailand

With her research, Warathida contributes to the global effort to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals 7, 11 and 13 which are to increase the access to sustainable and affordable energy, to build sustainable and resilient cities, and to combat climate change, respectively. Warathida’s goal is to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector. At the same time she wants to identify strategies reducing the energy cost burden on households, especially those facing economic difficulty from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Warathida considers the new circumstances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak as an opportunity to seriously start promoting energy efficiency in the urban dwellings of Thailand, especially those in the Northern region. Haze has been a severe environmental problem occurring in the period of January to April every year in Thailand’s northern part. 2020 was the worst year so far, as the region was confronted not only with the seasonal haze but also with the COVID-19 outbreak. A climax of hazy season coincided with an implementation of the government order to lock down cities and to perform social distancing in order to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Working from home has become the ‘new normal’. Thus, homes or dwellings will be a key place in the post-COVID-19 world. However, it appears that houses and buildings are not built to protect residents from haze pollution, nor do they prioritise energy efficiency which can both alleviate the energy cost burden and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the residential sector.

Warathida’s research examines a sustainable solution to mitigate climate change in the building sector while reducing energy costs and improving the well-being of people in urban areas. She is particularly interested in exploring the possibility of implementing zero-energy building technology and innovation as one of the potential sustainable solutions to the challenges in Thailand. Warathida has a strong interest in working across disciplines and integrating diverse knowledge. She welcomes collaboration and expertise from political science, electrical engineering, and architecture in coming up with technology and innovations.

The jury was convinced by Warathida’s interdisciplinary research and its high potential to address one of the most pressing challenges in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.