Case 11: Urban green infrastructure in Vienna - Nature-based solutions to enhancing quality of life

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Submitted by David Parastatidis on June 22, 2018 - 5:49pm
Shaw B.J., The Science and Practice of Landscape Stewardship, 2017

The world is urbanising. Since 2005 more than half of the world population lives in cities, and by 2050 this figure is projected to be two-thirds of all people. Seventy-five per cent of Europeans already live in urban areas. City landscapes generally experience higher temperatures than the less built up areas around them, due to the absorption and retention of heat by roads and buildings and the disruption of airflow by structures, with differences of temperatures ranging from 4°C up to 10°C. This heating, known as urban heat island (UHI) effect, is exacerbated by climate change and presents serious challenges to city planners and residents. Increasing city temperatures affect the life-quality of residents through sleep disruption, productivity loss and general discomfort, and it presents a particular risk to older, more isolated and vulnerable people. More demand for cooling both in homes and in the workplace results in increasing energy consumption and associated carbon dioxide pollution. In Vienna, officials from city planning and environmental departments as well as researchers from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences and the Technical University have been looking at what urban planning instruments are available to mitigate UHI effects in the city. The resulting Strategy Plan was published by the Department of Environmental Protection (MA22) in Vienna in 2015. Aims The aim of the Strategy Plan is to show ways in which negative UHI effects in the city of Vienna can be reduced, thereby avoiding the corresponding health issues that arise from overheating. The plan focuses on the role of water and green infrastructure in the city in alleviating UHI effects, both in terms of what existing structures already contribute to cooling, as well as what potential there is to increase green infrastructure through planning instruments. How It Works Green space in a city can mitigate UHI effects by reducing surface heat absorption, increasing solar energy reflection and water retention, as well as cooling warmer spaces nearby through heat diffusion. Therefore, an area highlighted by the Strategy Plan is the transformation of concrete and sealed surfaces into living foliage. © Cambridge University Press 2017.

Shaw, B.J., 2017. Case 11: Urban green infrastructure in Vienna - Nature-based solutions to enhancing quality of life, in: The Science and Practice of Landscape Stewardship. pp. 239–241. doi:10.1017/9781316499016.024
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