City planning guidelines for a better climate

Climate change will alter our living conditions, especially in densely populated cities. Trees and green areas can have a cooling effect and protect against flooding. How can green infrastructure be taken into account in urban planning? Guidelines developed by a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) show possible solutions.


According to current climate forecasts, annual mean temperatures in Bavaria will rise significantly, and heat waves and heavy rainfall will increase. Cities are particularly affected by the effects of climate change. Heat waves are more problematic here than in the countryside due to the sealing of areas and dense development. Long periods of heat can thus become a health risk for humans and animals. Too few infiltration areas also lead to flooding and damage to property during heavy rainfall.

Cities must become greener

How can urban planning meet these challenges? On behalf of the Bavarian State Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection and in cooperation with municipalities in Bavaria, researchers from the TUM Centre for Urban Nature and Climate Adaptation have prepared a “Guide for climate-oriented municipalities in Bavaria”. This makes it clear that the cities must above all become greener. Trees and green areas provide cooling and evaporation, reduce noise and clean the air. In addition, the green areas store seepage water in heavy rainfall and are therefore a valuable buffer.

In addition to climate adaptation, however, climate protection is still important, the authors emphasise. The guidelines therefore also provide recommendations for renovation measures in buildings.

Targeted planting specific to the type of urban settlement

In their analysis, the scientists considered three types of settlements typical of Bavaria: Munich’s Maxvorstadt as an example of a Wilhelminian block development, Neuaubing in Munich as a typical row development, and Heidingsfeld in Würzburg as an example of a historic city centre.

From the detailed analyses, the team derived recommendations on the most effective forms of planting and to what extent they should be incorporated into the various types of settlements.

For example, trees would have the greatest influence on the urban microclimate, whereby new plantations should pay attention to climate-tolerant tree species and plan for sufficient root space, the guidelines state. Green roofs and facades have a cooling effect on the surrounding area due to shading and evaporation.

Measures can also be implemented in densely built cities

The results of the investigations show: The challenges of climate change can also be mastered in densely built Bavarian cities. The authors recommend that the appropriate measures should be taken as soon as possible.

Photo: Creative Commons

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