Future-Proof and Sustainable: The Green City


One hears and reads about sustainable or green cities again and again: Sometimes it’s about areas with a particularly large amount of green space, sometimes about particularly innovative projects for urban greening, sometimes about sustainability and energy consumption in general. But what is actually behind the term green city? What does one understand by this term?


The Green City

How you can permanently improve the urban climate

The green city is the city of tomorrow. And for good reason: high concentrations of pollutants, low humidity levels and extreme temperatures are characteristic of many residential areas in the globalized world. But the exceptional climate is becoming a burden for the population living there. 

Urban greening is thus gaining in importance: plants contribute to an improved urban climate, which is why greening measures should be a top priority in urban planning. But where open spaces and budgets are becoming increasingly scarce, this is becoming more of a problem. We reveal the measures with which the “green city” concept can nevertheless develop its full potential.

The Green City: There Is No Definition

This question is not as easy to answer as it might seem at first: Currently, there is no uniform definition for this term. In this article, we therefore use the term “green city” to refer to those cities that attach considerable importance to the greening of available areas. Cities that implement planting measures wherever there is room for them – be it in parks, on roofs, vacant lots or in the form of street trees. And all of this is not for purely visual reasons.

The main reasons for consistently implementing urban greening are to be found in other areas: On the one hand, it improves the urban climate, which has a positive effect on the health of the population. Even green space maintenance with a Ryobi Leaf Blower presents a challenge with such large areas. Lower average temperatures and significantly better air quality are achieved, and the positive impact on the quality of life of the population is not to be sneezed at: from leisure time in the green to urban gardening – green spaces offer recreation for everyone. On the other hand, cities contribute to environmental protection with the help of greening measures: Pollutants are filtered out of the air by the plants, trees and shrubs provide new habitats for various animal species, and gardens supply food that does not have to be transported long distances.

Targeted Greening Measures

So green cities will be a must for public administration in the future: numerous studies have already proven that plants minimize pollutant concentrations and contribute to better air in cities overall. One thing is certain: If you want to promote the quality of life of the population and minimize harmful health and environmental impacts, you have to improve the urban climate and make the city more attractive and livable through greener spaces.

Whether Singapore, Cape Town or Copenhagen, numerous metropolises around the world have long since recognized the potential of green cities. Freely available space is scarce in these metropolises – and yet public administrations manage to design the few usable areas in a sensible way: Roof gardens are being installed on new buildings. Beds, shrubs, flowers and even trees can be found on and around high-rise buildings. Fallow land is being converted into parks, and urban garden areas are being created. Globally, European cities are still lagging somewhat behind in these areas – but the increasing importance of green cities is already beginning to be seen in this country, as evidenced, for example, by initiatives such as “The Green City”.

Green Roofs, Vertical and Hanging Gardens

In densely populated areas, the greening of roofs in particular represents an interesting measure for making the best possible use of available space – probably one of the reasons why subsidies or even obligations for green roofs have often been the subject of public discussion.

Why so far however only so rarely one falls back to it: A green roof causes enormous costs already during the construction phase. The construction effort is considerable and also the care of the plants is cost-intensive. It must be ensured that the green roof does not pose a danger to the public – either through high wind speeds or, for example, through damaged building fabric. But at least the bureaucratic effort is kept within limits: Green roofs do not require any permits.

Hanging or vertical gardens are therefore an alternative – but here, too, planning and maintenance costs are enormous. The complex irrigation systems must be designed so robustly that they can withstand even harsh winters without damage. At the moment, these high costs are probably still deterring most investors as well as public administrators in most cases – but exemplary projects will probably contribute to a higher acceptance of these measures in the future.

This can be expected in particular due to the positive effects on urban overheating. In winter, a green roof or façade limits the heat loss of a building as a nice side effect; in summer, the additional layer has an insulating and thus cooling effect on the interior spaces. Thermal insulation is the keyword. This results in lower heating costs as well as reduced energy consumption overall – for years to come.

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