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Improving environmental quality and climate resilience of neighborhoods Challenges and approaches in the district

Climate change and a high degree of automobility in cities are related to environmental impacts. In order to reduce these impacts, there is a need for change towards resilient urban development. The project “Umwelt im Quartier” (“Environment in the neighborhood”) focuses on the potentials and challenges of transforming existing neighborhoods. This article presents and discusses first insights of the project.

The neighborhood is considered an important spatial scale for the implementation of a socio-ecological transformation. Heat, rain, noise and air quality are significant aspects of environmental quality on the neighborhood scale. In existing neighborhoods, the preservation and enhancement of green and public spaces is an important starting point. Examples include developing greening concepts, implementing noise-reducing measures, integrated water management and transforming street spaces. Simultaneously, however, challenges arise such as land use conflicts as well as the high degree of soil sealing in many existing neighborhoods. It is crucial to analyze the potential for improvement of environmental quality and climate resilience in cities, as well as the potentials of neighborhood development as a part of sustainable and integrated urban development.

The nature of environmental impacts in urban areas depends on the structure of the built environment. It is worthwhile, therefore, to analyze exposure, risk, and potential specifically for different urban structures. These analyses should be rendered more concrete by measurements, models, and consultations in specific neighborhoods. Based on the results, measures can be developed. Urban planning has to incorporate formal and informal instruments to reach climate resilient urban development. While doing so, it has to cope with densification pressure and preserve and increase green and public spaces. This allows to improve environmental quality in existing neighborhoods and mitigate negative consequences of climate change.

View Article (In German)