Imagine a city full of trees, plants and solar panels, wouldn’t this be great? Our vision is to increase the green in cities and equip them with solar panels to improve their climate. The following contribution is going to show you how this vision could be realized and how it could improve our health.
What is city-climate?
The term city climate refers to man-made changes in climate and air quality in cities. This becomes a problem for our life quality, especially on hot summer days. These changes are mainly based on the influence of roof and building developments as well as industry and traffic. Typical consequences of a bad city climate are in addition to air pollution, increased air and surface temperatures as well as changes in wind and precipitation (Niederschlag) conditions.1
Methods to improve the city-climate
- Increase green areas with trees and/or plants
- Reduction of the building density (Baudichte)
- More renewable energy (eg. solar panels)
- Reduction of CO2 emissions
- Urban gardening
In our project we want to focus exclusively on “city trees” / “green areas” and “solar panels”.2
City trees / green areas
City areas, house roofs and facades can become green to improve the climate. However, cooling by evaporation only works if the plants have access to water. The provision of drinking water requires an astonishing amount of energy for pumping, cleaning and transporting. Therefore, rainwater should be collected and used for green spaces. A good example for a well-integrated green area is the famous Central Park in New York.3
Solar panels on building make a lot of sense, especially in cities, except in city centers where the neighbouring buildings are so high that the shade is too big. In this case the best option would be to install the solar panels on top of the building.3
To take the opinion of a expert in consideration, we carried out a interview with Peter de Haan. He is head of the business area resources, energy + climate of EBP (ebp.ch). This company is very famous for their work on the city climate and on different methods on how to improve our environment. It was a great experience and we contributed 8 questions on our topic. We want to share our favourite questions below. Our personal favourite is question 7 because we think that it concerns all of us and we all can contribute something to improve our climate, especially in the cities. The full interview is mentioned at the bottom of our contribution.
Question 7: How can individuals contribute to improving the urban climate and how significant would these adjustments be?
Those who do not own a car do not need a parking space and they generally take up less traffic area. Those who only use a small amount of living space simplify urban densification (Stadtverdichtung, verdichtetes Bauen) in such a way that urban climate aspects can also be taken into account (Stadtklima-Askpekte berücksichtigen).
Frage 8: Was hindert die Bevölkerung daran, diese Projekte grossflächig umzusetzen und zur Verbesserung des Stadtklimas beizutragen?
Der grösste Teil der Bevölkerung sind Mieter/innen. Die erwähnten Anpassungen müssten durch die Gebäudebesitzer und durch die Gemeinde umgesetzt werden. Wo kommunale Bau- und Zonen-Ordnungen oder Sondergestaltungspläne sowie Beeinträchtigungen von Kantonsstrassen zu bewilligen sind, ist auch der Kanton involviert. Haupthindernisse sind die Zersplitterung (die Anpassungen müssten auf Ebene eines Areals, Quartierteils, Hinterhofs, Strassenabschnitts oder Strassenblocks gemacht werden – da sind immer mehrere Gebäudebesitzer involviert und müssten einstimmig entscheiden.
Full Interview: Interview with Peter de Haan, EBP (PDF)
Historical weather data from more than 500 locations across Europe show where the temperature has increased in different cities.
The following graphic shows the temperatures in Zurich from 1900 to 2017. The grey line indicates the average temperature for every single year and the red one stands for the average temperature in the different centuries.4
We both think that climate and especially the climate in big cities is a very important topic. We already knew that it looked quite bad and that climate change is a concerning problem in the modern world but we have to admit that we were shocked when we found out how bad the situation really is.
We could learn a lot from making this project and most of the time it was quite interesting and fun. I think that our time-management was good and our collaboration went very well.
Our personal highlight was the interview with Peter de Haan. He is head of the business area resources, energy + climate of EBP (ebp.ch), an Swiss company which operates internationally and very famous for their work on the city-climate and how to improve our environment. It was a honor that a businessman like him took to time to help us on our project. It was not self-evident (selbstverständlich) and we want to thank him for the support.
Thank you for reading. 😀
Leandro Hämmerli, Petar Simeonovic
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