Integrate green infrastructure into urban areas
A variety of approaches are available to incorporate green infrastructure into urban neighbourhoods.
New developments provide lots of opportunities for incorporating green infrastructure into their design. However, much of the built environment is already there and is unlikely to change much, so more creative approaches are needed.
Meanwhile, different neighbourhoods will face different challenges from climate change: neighbourhoods built on clay soils may be at risk from subsidence due to alternating periods of heavy rainfall and drought, while many city centres will have to deal with extremes of heat.
The urban heat island effect can make cities several degrees warmer than surrounding areas and this will be exacerbated by climate change. The biggest difference is in night time temperatures where the heat stored by hard surfaces, roads, roofs and walls is only slowly released. This creates an island of warmer temperature which is very oppressive during hot summers.
Hotter summers can be uncomfortable for people, increase heat stress and in extreme cases increase mortality. In the heatwave of 2003, there were up to 35,000 additional deaths across Europe and 3,000 additional deaths in the UK.
According to research by the Hadley Centre, by 2040 more than half of summers will be warmer than 2003 and by 2100 summer temperatures similar to 2003 will be classed as cool.
Green infrastructure can help mitigate the causes of climate change by reducing the amount of energy used to cool buildings. Modelling work in Greater Manchester suggested that if we increase our green cover in towns and cities by 10 per cent, we can keep surface temperatures at current levels despite climate change.
However, evaporative cooling from plants is dependent on having an adequate supply of water. This will be especially true during droughts, when we will have to irrigate vegetation. We have to make sure that sustainable water management, such as capturing and storing rainwater untill needed for irrigation, is linked to maintaining functional green infrastructure. This can have the added benefit of alleviating the risk of flooding from heavy rainfall.
Advice about integrating green infrastructure into urban areas
In built-up urban areas it is often difficult to create significant new green spaces. This makes thinking creatively and making the best of use of existing green areas especially important.
Tags: green infrastructure, public space, neighbourhoods
Trees are an indispensable component of green infrastructure, providing key environmental services such as improving air quality and reducing the urban heat island effect. Yet many are uprooted each year.
Tags: green infrastructure, national level, cities and towns
Food production, processing and transportation is responsible for 8% of the average person's carbon (and 23% of their ecological) footprint. We can reduce this by using green space in towns and cities to grow our own fruit and veg.
Tags: green infrastructure, regions and subregions, cities and towns
Green roofs and building facades can be built on new buildings and retrofitted on existing ones, especially in urban areas where there are few other opportunities for adding green infrastructure.
Tags: green infrastructure, buildings and spaces
Green infrastructure – plants, green spaces and water – can help to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and help places adapt to the effects of climate change.
Tags: green infrastructure, regions and subregions, cities and towns, neighbourhoods
CABE and Urban Practitioners
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