Tagged: Green Infrastructure

Retrofitting low-cost green infrastructure to existing social housing

 

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In recognition of this project, Groundwork London’s Landscape and Community Teams were awarded the the Landscape Institute’s College of Fellow’s Award for Climate Change Adaptation 2017.

The College of Fellows’ Award is a fantastic endorsement of our commitment to designing new solutions for a changing climate and to delivering these through the cross-sector partnerships that have made this project a success. It is great to see a green infrastructure project recognised not only for its work to make our cities more resilient, but also for its potential to truly transform communities.

Anita Konrad, Director, Strategic Partnerships & Programmes at Groundwork London.

You can now vote for your favourite LIFE green city project. Click here. The European Commission has shortlisted 6 finalists including Climate Proofing Housing Landscapes among 62 best LIFE projects. You have until 25 April to choose this year´s People’s Choice Award.

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Sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS): a comparison of green roofs and permeable paving.

Source: Pappalardo, V., La Rosa, D., Campisano, A., La Greca, P.(2017). The potential of green infrastructure application in urban runoff control for land use planning: A preliminary evaluation from a southern Italy case study. Ecosystem Services. 26(B): 345–354. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2017.04.015.

This study investigates how green roofs and permeable paving contribute to flood mitigation. Using a hydraulic model technique, the research found that, in particular urban cases, green roofs were more effective than permeable paving. Policies to promote the adoption of sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) could prove more effective under certain circumstances, and policymakers should look at ways to promote SUDS where suitable.

A worldwide trend in an increase in impervious surfaces (impermeable to water), coupled with precipitation extremes, are contributing to a rise in urban flooding. Current drainage systems may struggle to cope with the amount of water run-off during heavy rainfall events, which are predicted to increase under climate change1. The effectiveness of green roofs and permeable paving for stormwater management in an urban location was assessed.

SUDS refers to a range of drainage technologies that are more sustainable than conventional solutions2, and may include types of green infrastructure, for example green roofs, permeable surfaces, and purpose-built ponds and wetlands. These techniques use landscape features and natural processes to slow flows of water, increase evaporation and encourage infiltration into the ground. As a co-benefit, SUDS strategies can enhance ecosystem services, such as wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, recreation and education. Conventional drainage, meanwhile, focuses on channelling water into drainage areas as quickly as possible.

To evaluate the effectiveness of two types of SUDS, the researchers compared three scenarios in the city of Avola, Sicily — an area which underwent rapid urbanisation in the 20th century. First, they identified the amount of land falling into different use categories, for example ‘residential-semi-intensive’, with less than 50% permeability, ‘road and parking areas’ and ‘bare soil’, and obtained plans of the sewer system. Together with rainfall data going back to 1940, these inputs were used with modelling software (the US EPA Storm Water Management Model3) to analyse water flows and run-off under each scenario, for a sub-catchment (part of the wider watershed) in the city.

Modelling was conducted over two-, five- and 10-year timeframes, taking into account the number of peak-flow events (e.g. storms) that would be likely to occur during this time, known as a ‘return period’. In the first scenario, with no SUDS measures in place, modelling showed that the existing drainage system would not cope adequately with peak flows over five and 10 years — therefore flooding would occur in several places.

In the second scenario, 150 areas of permeable paving, covering 15 m2 each, replaced impermeable surfaces in public spaces. In the final scenario, green roofs were installed on 110 buildings, covering about 3.3 hectares. These measures were placed upstream of the area that experienced flooding in the non-SUDS scenario.

Results showed that green roofs were the most effective at mitigating run-off and flooding, but efficacy depended on the return period considered. Over two-year periods, both permeable paving and green roofs exhibited improvements over the first scenario, and over five years they reduced, but did not prevent, flooding. Green roofs halved the volume of flooding over the 10-year period, while permeable paving only slightly reduced the incidence.

Surface run-off, meanwhile, was reduced from 34.7mm (non-SUDS) to 34.3mm (permeable paving) and 30.7mm (green roofs), in this time period, indicating limited benefits in this category.

The researchers attribute such limited benefits to the small area covered by the SUDS measures and the fact that the area was limited to public space, compared to the large impervious surface area over the whole catchment. They also acknowledge that the SUDS modelled were only designed to achieve a general reduction in run-off peak discharge, to relieve downstream areas during heavy precipitation.

The results are also subject to some uncertainty. There is a lack of field data on the performance of real-life SUDS in southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, but such data would help to improve modelled results. Such validation would also allow urban planners to use this type of model to inform the best positioning of SUDS, say the researchers. The researchers also underline that results obtained from SUDS simulations are strongly dependent on site-specific characteristics of the urban catchment, which limit the possible location of permeable pavements and, therefore, favour green roofs. In this study, the researchers highlight that more substantial mitigation of peak flow was achieved by green roofs, which are located on private buildings, than permeable paving in public areas. This implies that policies incentivising private adoption of SUDS measures are important. Demonstration projects and subsidies may be used to drive adoption, they suggest, as well as compliance-based instruments such as building-code requirements.

References

1. Fratini, C. F., et al. (2012). Three Points Approach (3PA) for urban flood risk management: A tool to support climate change adaptation through transdisciplinarity and multifunctionality. Urban Water Journal, 9(5): 317–331.

2. Fletcher, T.D., Shuster, W., Hunt, W.F., et al. (2014). SUDS, LIDS, BMs, WUDS and more – The evolution and application of terminology surrounding urban drainage. Urban Water Journal, 12(7): 525–542

3. Rossman, L.A., 2010. Storm Water Management Model User’s Manual. Version 5.0.

Contact: vpappala@darc.unict.it

For technical information, guidance and advice, CIRIA provides a comprehensive range of resources on SuDS through its Susdrain network.  It has also produced detailed best practice guidance on the planning, design, construction and maintenance of SuDS in ‘The SuDS Manual’ and an accompanying ‘Site handbook for the construction of SuDS’, which provides guidance on the construction of SuDS to facilitate their effective delivery.

The Landscape Institute’s Technical Committee published Management and Maintenance of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) Landscapes (March 2014) which includes a selection of water management case studies.

Turning London’s traffic clogged streets into ‘green boulevards’

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Animation: WATG http://www.watg.com/london-national-park-city-green-block/

Could Fleet Street in central London be turned into ‘green boulevard’? The architecture practice WATG have teamed up with “guerrilla geographer” Daniel Raven-Ellison (who is leading the campaign to have London declared the world’s first city national park) to explore the idea of greening the city using green building blocks .

“The mission of this campaign is to create a city where people and nature are more connected. A city that is rich with wildlife and every child benefits from exploring, playing and learning outdoors. A city where we all enjoy high-quality green spaces, the air is clean to breathe, it’s a pleasure to swim in its rivers and green homes are affordable.”

Following a meeting withDaniel Raven-Ellison the WATG Landscape Architecture team were inspired to contribute to this socially important initiative in the Capital. Led by Demet Karaoglu, Senior Project Landscape Architect, the team challenged themselves to an internal innovation competition and the ‘Green Block’ was born.

It’s safe to say that we can all now envision a future with driverless, electric cars and that translates to fewer cars on the road and fewer car parks and car lanes,” said John Goldwyn, Vice President, WATG. “The Green Block claws back space from the roads and returns it to the people of London.

Source: http://www.watg.com/london-national-park-city-green-block/

The team at WATG have developed the ‘Green Block’ – a maintenance-free modular, living building material permeated with native wildflower seeds and containing its own irrigation reservoir. The website explains that Green Blocks can be used in creative ways to enhance the natural biodiversity of London by:

  • Reclaiming expanses of tarmac and space made available by redundant roads and car parks, following the rise of autonomous and shared vehicle and bicycle schemes in the Capital;
  • Adding greenery to existing cafes and shopfronts whilst cleaning and filtering the city air and creating a more aesthetically-desirable city-scape;
  • Cladding buildings and hoarding construction sites;
  • Delineating and augmenting cycling routes;
  • Connecting the city’s existing parks;
  • Allowing residents and property owners in the Capital to create their own urban allotments, replacing concrete front gardens and providing ecological corridors for the city’s native wildlife such as invertebrates, small mammals and raptors.

For further information on greening the city read Arup: Cities Alive – Rethinking green infrastructure and Cities Alive Workshop video launch.

Note: The animation of Fleet Street was designed by WATG for visualisation and conceptual purposes only; to show how the prototype ‘Green Block’ could be used within an urban environment.  The ‘Green Block’ is a landscape architecture concept that was developed purely to explore how design can innovate and contribute to a greener future.

London’s Greener City Fund

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan has launched a new £9 million fund to create and improve green spaces and encourage more tree planting in London. The Mayor wants to make London the first National Park City with a target of making 50 per cent of the city green by 2050. To do this, his ambition is to plant more trees, restore our rivers, create natural play-spaces for children and green routes to encourage walking and cycling. The first commitment towards this is the Greener City Fund, a grant programme to support boroughs, local communities and environmental organisations to plant more trees and improve our green spaces.

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Previous assessments of London’s green spaces have indicated that about 47 per cent of London is green space. This includes: parks and amenity space; the countryside and farmland in London’s green belt; nature reserves; and private gardens. About 20 per cent of London is covered by trees, mostly as integral parts of the city’s green spaces. It also includes trees in streets and other urban parts of the city.

Khan asserts that well-designed green spaces should be multifunctional and offer a range of benefits that support the needs of a growing population. Yet there are many parts of London, especially in densely populated or deprived areas, where Londoners lack green space or have little tree cover. Greening these areas can provide many benefits, including: improving health and wellbeing; providing space for recreation and cultural activities; adapting to climate change; and creating habitat for wildlife.

A City for All Londoners sets out the Mayor’s plans to improve London. The policy document states that London ‘must develop to accommodate more people, jobs and activity. It must also adapt to the increasing threats from climate change. As such, it is vital both for the health and wellbeing of our citizens and for London’s economy to protect and enhance the environment.’

city for londoners

Making London a National Park City

The Mayor also wants to make London the first National Park City. This will be a way to promote his policies, proposals and projects on green infrastructure and give them a common identity. It is how he will engage Londoners and raise awareness about natural environment issues. The aim is to help Londoners make more use of London’s outdoors. It will also encourage them to help green London, whether by gardening for wildlife, volunteering to plant trees, or installing green roofs.

The Mayor’s National Park City programme will include:

  • updating London Plan policies to protect green space and encourage greening of the urban environment, for example through green roofs
  • support for boroughs and other land managers to help identify and promote the full economic value of London’s green infrastructure, to help build the case for essential investment and maintenance funding
  • feeding into initiatives such as the Healthy Streets Approach, to ensure that the full potential of greening to enhance street space is realised
  • a package of funding and advice – the Greener City Fund – to help boroughs, local communities, and environmental organisations run projects that plant more trees and improve London’s green spaces.

Greener City Fund

The Mayor has committed £9m to create and improve green spaces and encourage tree planting and management in London.

The Greener City Fund will include three specific elements:

  • Strategic green infrastructure projects: the Mayor’s £3m of funding will support strategic green space improvements that will bring multiple environmental benefits. For example, river restoration in parks, which could provide flood water storage, new habitats for wildlife and improved space for play.
  • London’s urban forest: City Hall will work with partner organisations, boroughs, Londoners and businesses on a range of projects to help plant and look after trees in London. The Mayor’s £3m of funding will help: create new woodlands; pilot new approaches to supporting tree planting in public space; improve data about London’s trees; and support London-wide projects.
  • Community Tree Planting and Green Space Grants: over the next three years, the Mayor has committed £3m to help Londoners plant trees and make our city greener. These community grants will be offered in several rounds. They will involve community groups, charities, schools, boroughs and businesses in planting trees, and improving and increasing green space across London.

 

Mapping ecosystem services can aid the design of healthy, climate-resilient cities.

Source: Derkzen, M., van Teeffelen, A. & Verburg, P. (2015). Quantifying urban ecosystem services based on high-resolution data of urban green space: an assessment for Rotterdam, the Netherlands. J Appl Ecol, 52(4), pp.1020-1032. DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12469
Contact: marthe.derkzen@vu.nl

Urban green spaces provide important ecosystem services in cities, from recreation to the mitigation of noise and air pollution. This study quantified the ecosystem services (ES) provided by green spaces in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, using new methods to evaluate high-resolution land-cover data. The findings show that different types of green space provide different ES, highlighting the importance of careful design during city planning. This method to map ES supply can aid the design of healthy, climate-resilient cities.

Urban green spaces provide important ecosystem services in cities, from recreation to the mitigation of noise and air pollution. This study quantified the ecosystem services (ES) provided by green spaces in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, using methods to evaluate high-resolution land-cover data. The findings show that different types of green space provide different ecosystem services, highlighting the importance of careful design during city planning. The authors say their method to map ES supply will aid the design of healthy, climate-resilient cities.

Urban green spaces, which include parks and playing fields, have important benefits. They provide a range of ecosystem services (ES) and can help to mitigate problems that are particularly prevalent in cities, such as air and noise pollution. Despite their importance in urban areas, most studies of ES focus on rural or natural landscapes. This may be because existing methods to quantify ES struggle to cope with the high-resolution land-cover data necessary to assess ES in a city context.

To improve understanding of urban ES, this study derived new methods to quantify and map ES supplied by urban green spaces. The methods, based on land-cover data and a literature review, were applied to Rotterdam. The second largest city in the Netherlands, Rotterdam faces challenges common to many European cities, including heat stress, flooding and air pollution.

The researchers, supported by the European Commission via projects Transitioning Towards Urban Resilience and Sustainability (TURAS) and OPERAs: Ecosystem Science for Policy & Practice, selected six urban ES: air purification (defined as the lowering of background air pollution concentrations), carbon storage (gross above ground carbon storage), noise reduction (the capacity of vegetation to attenuate environmental noise), run-off retention (the combined effect of rainfall interception, infiltration and storage), cooling (temperature reduction by vegetation) and recreation (the potential of green spaces for everyday outdoor recreation). These ES were chosen due to their relevance for human well-being.

To determine the spatial distribution of each ES, the researchers mapped them onto the city landscape using data on the locations of eight different types of urban green space (trees, woodland, tall shrubs, short shrubs, herbaceous, garden, water, and others, such as allotment gardens and sports fields). This data was compiled from a combination of green maintenance maps, cadastral maps [a map defining land ownership] and land-use maps.

Indicators for each ES were obtained from a literature review and applied to the green space data within the geographic information services platform ArcGIS 10.1. The researchers calculated the ES supplied by each individual green space and at the neighbourhood and district levels. For each urban green space they multiplied the area by the ES supply rate per square metre. The ES supplied by individual green spaces was then aggregated to the neighbourhood and district levels.

Analysis showed that different green spaces have different capacities for ES delivery. The spatial arrangements of green spaces are also a key determinant of ES supply. For example, trees can be more effective in filtering pollutants from the air when they are close to the source of pollution.

Differences in the availability of green spaces can lead to significant spatial variation in ES supply across a city. In general, supply increases with distance from the city centre. The researchers say this is because central neighbourhoods tend to be more developed and are therefore less green. In Rotterdam, there were clear spatial discrepancies in ES supply; some districts completely lacked green spaces and therefore received low levels of ES, while others received high levels of numerous or even all ES.

This study shows that not only the amount but also the composition and arrangement of urban green spaces influence the type and level of ES provided to neighbourhoods. The methodology used here to map ES shows which services are supplied, where, in what quantity and by which green spaces. This approach will help urban planners to ensure that the ES needs of neighbourhoods are met, and ultimately to design more sustainable cities.

Has green gone mainstream?

Here’s some food for thought…….The following commentary blog was posted on the World Design Summit’s ‘Designing the Future’ website –  world design summit taking place over 10 days in Montreal in October, 2017. The event is described as, ‘an international gathering of diverse disciplines with a common focus: how design can shape the future.’ 

“Green has gone mainstream. But as green walls, rooftop farms, and tree covered skyscrapers become the norm in cities around the world, critics ask if these developments are simply the latest face of ‘greenwashing’. Environmental advocates such as Naomi Klein have long warned of corporations that attempt to mask questionable records by emphasizing green elements. Klein has challenged industrialists who partake in flashy, eco-conscious campaigns but do little to alleviate the impact of their businesses on the climate. Many companies spend more money convincing consumers that they are green than they do on actual green initiatives; some corporate green initiatives actually harm the environment.

Urbanists worry that greenwashing has spread to urban design and architecture by literally covering up buildings with plants. The vertical farms, plant-covered towers, and eco-villages that once seemed far-fetched are now not only possible but all the rage. Bringing greenery into the city may reduce emissions and improve air quality, but it does little to address the deeper causes of urban and environmental stress. Greening initiatives increase the economic value of places, risking displacement of economically vulnerable residents. Does a greenroof on top of a superstore help uninsured workers? What difference does a green tech-campus make if it requires hundreds of parking spaces?

One architect who questions greenwashing is Alejandro Aravena, director of the firm ELEMENTAL in Chile. At last year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, Aravena exposed the wasteful side of design by exhibiting 90 tons of detritus from the previous year’s event. He also tackles underlying challenges, by collaborating with communities to empower them to design affordable and sustainable housing for themselves. In this age of tree-covered skyscrapers, Aravena’s commitment to modest and even monotonous design stands out.

Questioning greenwashing demands that designers ask whether the green city must be a luxury for the privileged and whether sustainability initiatives accelerate inequality. Designers in all disciplines must look beyond rhetoric and aesthetics to evaluate the impact of environmental design. How can we, as designers, reconcile our role, which is closely linked with the market economy and over-consumption, with environmental and social awareness? Designers invested in truly sustainable practice are encouraged to submit a proposal for the topic “Questioning Greenwashing” at the Congress for the World Design Summit.”

The article is not attributed to any particular author but it would be interesting to hear your thoughts?  What’s your opinion in relation to #greenwashing? The article is illustrated by Stefano Boeri‘s proposals to build “forest cities” in Shijiazhuang, China plus an image of Bosco Verticale, Milan although the latter is not credited – (neither  design is referred to by name in the article). Both designs incorporate vegetation on the outer construction with the twin towers of Bosco Verticale – constructed with a $2.5 billion public-private investment as part of the redevelopment of Milan’s Porta Nuova district – housing 800 trees between 9 and 30 feet tall, over 4,000 shrubs, and 15,000 ground cover plants including vines and perennials.

The summit focuses on 6 key themes including ‘Design for Earth’ and 108 topics including ‘Questioning greenwashing’,

“Designers are sensitive to environmental issues and announce their willingness to conform their practices. However, beyond appearances and words, critical scrutiny is essential. How can we, as designers, reconcile our role, which is closely linked with the market economy and over-consumption, with environmental and social awareness?”

To read Naomi Klein’s, ‘The hypocrisy behind the big business climate change battle’ . Source: The Guardian, Sept, 2014.

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