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Arup launched “Madrid + Natural” a series of guidelines to tackle the global concern of climate change through multiple local solutions. The work is part of a collaborative assessment to the local City Hall and includes ideas for greening buildings, infrastructure, streets and open spaces in the city of Madrid.
This forward-thinking report undertaken by Arup’s Foresight + Research + Innovation, Madrid Sustainability and Master Planning, and Landscape Architecture teams provides multiple nature-based solutions to regulate Madrid’s urban environment and respond to problems like pollution, increased heavy storm events, drought , periods of abnormally hot temperatures and local biodiversity loss.
Turning buildings green
As cities face increasing population density and shortage of space at ground level, Madrid + Natural highlights the importance of green urban infrastructure as a way to protect buildings from thermal fluctuations and extreme weather.
While green walls and large-scale independent vertical infrastructure can improve air quality and acoustics, sustainable roofs can increase the efficiency of PV panels by reducing ambient temperatures, provide cooling, and create habitat for biodiversity.
Low-cost ideas like painting roofs white is another simple way to reduce energy consumption of buildings during hotter months by reflecting up to 90% of received sunlight.
Research in the field has demonstrated the potential of green roofs and urban forests as a strategy for adapting urban ecosystems to the impacts of climate change. Temperature reductions up to 4.5 °C over the summer were reported in areas of Madrid where these strategies have been implemented.
– Susana Saiz, Sustainable and Energy team, Arup
As concerns rise over instability of the global food trade and lack of space for agriculture, urban farming can also be implemented on rooftops and unused spaces between buildings, optimising the use of urban space.
Greening infrastructure and open area
In a bid to reduce the carbon footprint of this city, the report also suggests greening of existing infrastructure like transport links, empty spaces, bridges or obsolete infrastructure as a way to provide natural habitats for wildlife and spaces for human enjoyment.
Increasing tree cover, flood capacity and providing greener streets and spaces are key elements of green networks, and can have positive effects on the economic and social cohesion of neighbourhoods. Research shows that tree-lined streets can encourage people to seek alternative modes of transport and pursue healthier lifestyles; leading to an increased sense of community belonging.
– Tom Armour, Landscape Architecture Group Leader at Arup
The integration of water features like fountains, mist, brooks and waterfalls into public realm design can provide a range of benefits, like reduce local temperatures and mitigate the urban heat island effect.
Madrid + Natural also highlights the importance of retrofitting unused social infrastructure to reinvigorate neighbourhoods and improve wellbeing. Low maintenance greening techniques in close consultation with local communities can help overcome maintenance challenges whilst strengthening a sense of ownership.
Through workshops, meetings and sessions along with experts, the team set up by Arup and Madrid City Council have outlined a result matching information and visibility, also facilitating communication and dissemination of the project both internally and to other actors that should be involved in its development.
– Juan Azcárate, Deputy Director Energy and Climate change, Madrid City Council.
Street greening and urban forests provide cooling, shade, water and air filtration, and stormwater management and helps to increase the diversity of local flora and fauna. Arup predicts that in the future, more effective policies will be needed to protect or restore urban forests.