Climate-Proofing Urban Areas
Climate change has an influence on cities and surrounding areas. Adaptation of urban patterns, public space and the water system, and of houses/buildings is essential to keep cities pleasant to live in over the years and to protect them from social dislocation and discomfort. Cities are a complex system of physical, economic and social structures; a system which is closely linked with the surrounding rural area and with the urban structure of surrounding areas.
Many components are interrelated. For instance: research will need to focus on the different scales evident in cities (building, street, district, city, the urban conurbation) and their respective interaction. The element of time is also highly significant for cities, firstly because investments in cities are long-term (sewage system, buildings, public spaces, roads, water and ICT infrastructure, etc.). If these investments are to be profitable and continue to contribute to a habitable city, then the future climate, with all its associated uncertainties, must now be taken into account in plans, design and management. Secondly, time plays a role in finding time intervals in which action can be taken.
Transitions in cities that demand a different organisation and allocation of space are difficult to engineer. Therefore, the opportunities that arise will need to be used cleverly. The restructuring of districts or industrial estates, the laying of a new sewage mains, the re-landscaping of a park or the renovation of a street can all present such opportunities.
What is the climate system in the city, both now and in the future, and which measuring system and models are required to gain more insight into it? What are the threats and opportunities as a result of climate change, and how can we quantify and prioritise them?
What is the optimum configuration of 'red', 'green' and 'blue' land use functions in the city, at the different scale levels, taking into account the climate and climate change, and providing a maximum contribution to the well-being of city-dwellers with the least possible impacts on the quality of life? The relationship between indoor and outdoor climate must also be taken into consideration. This question relates to newly built estates, district and industrial estate restructuring. An inherent component of this question is: how will cities function in 2050?
How can streams and ponds be used in such a way that they give off heat to buildings and districts during the winter and keep them cool in the summer?
How can measures for climate adaptation be weighed within a wider assessment framework, with a view to the long-term, in the context of urban overcrowding and the wish of many cities to be climate-neutral before 2050?
What can we learn from how cities abroad deal with adaptation issues?
A Consortium on Climate Proof Cities was formed in 2010. This Consortium research programme aims at "strengthening the adaptive capacity and reducing the vulnerability of the urban system against climate change and to develop strategies and policy instruments for adapting our cities and buildings".
View the list with CcSP and KfC projects with regard to this Research theme.