Using water and vegetation together to make our cities more liveable

In cities extreme temperatures and weather are occurring with increasing frequency. The restoration and redevelopment of integrated ‘blue’ and ‘green’ infrastructure could help to reduce the impact of such events and simultaneously increase the value of the land. Blue Green Dream aims to develop the service infrastructure to implement the use of this adaptation solution.

The climate change adaptation issue

Soaring temperatures and extreme weather are having a significant impact on cities. The effects of urban heat islands and uncontrolled or inadequately planned urbanisation are amplifying the combined stresses on urban life. The reduction of green space and urban water corridors, are arguably one of the drivers. City decision makers, urban planners and water engineers should consider how water systems and vegetated areas can be better integrated together to make cities more habitable and resilient in spite of climate change.

The project solution

Blue Green Dream will highlight the multiple benefits that can be gained from integrating water (blue) and vegetated (green) infrastructure. For instance, well designed smart irrigation channels, grassed filter verges, puri-drains, bioactivated canals, rain gardens and green roofs/walls could all contribute to distributing rainwater in order to stimulate evaporation and reduce the risk of flooding. They will also generate a natural cooling effect through evapotranspiration from plants, with the potential for local temperatures to be reduced by as much as three degrees Celsius. In urban spaces this is a significant difference; extreme city temperatures are occurring with increased frequency, with the urban heat island effect increasing temperatures by up to six degrees compared to the surrounding region.

Blue Green Dream will analyse the relative benefits of a number of adaptation tools which develop synergies between blue and green infrastructures. A number of models, tools and methodologies will be created by sharing the expertise of the partners. These tools will be tested and demonstrated in test sites in Berlin, London, Paris and Rotterdam, including a mixture of new developments and the retrofitting of existing infrastructure.

If cities are designed with the Blue-Green concept in mind, they will be better adapted to the changing climate and hence cooler, greener and safer environments for residents, as well as more valuable.

The role of Climate-KIC

The Blue Green Dream project combines the strengths of a number of Climate-KIC partners including research institutes, consultancies and utility services. Through the network, Prof Maksimović and his team have set up demonstration and research sites in a number of European cities.

“It is important to demonstrate that these technologies work and to document the impact, so that we have a clear picture of how much energy – and costs – can be saved … We want people to see trees and plants as more than just something pretty to look at, and cities as sources of water not just consumers of water” Čedo Maksimović, Blue Green Dream