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Barcelona Prepares Climate Shelters to Keep Residents Cool During the Summer Months

Barcelona Prepares Climate Shelters to Keep Residents Cool During the Summer Months


Barcelona Prepares Climate Shelters to Keep Residents Cool During the Summer Months

Cities across the Northern Hemisphere are preparing for the upcoming summer months, which are expected to be warmer and drier than average. the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts warns about temperatures rising above the norm in central and southern Europe this summer. Similarly, the forecast for the United States predicts hotter weather and below-average rainfall likely to fuel a megadrought. This poses threats for citizens, especially in larger cities, where heat-absorbing asphalt and waste heat generated by energy use create a “heat island” effect. It translates to temperatures being up to 10°F (5.6°C) warmer in cities compared to the surrounding natural areas.

Courtesy of Barcelona City CouncilDesign Museum, Great Room.  Image Courtesy of Barcelona City CouncilCourtesy of Barcelona City CouncilMuseum Frederic Mares.  Image Courtesy of Barcelona City Council+ 7

Around the world, cities are implementing measures to reduce or mitigate the effects of rising temperatures. To protect the most vulnerable groups of citizens, the City Council of Barcelona you have decided to create a network of climate shelters. These are specially conditioned spaces kept at 26 degrees Celsius with good accessibility, rest, and water areas to ease the sensation of heat. Spaces across the city are adapted to serve as shelters, with local schools being one of the primary resources used in the program. Outdoor parks and gardens with a high presence of urban greenery and water fountains are also promoted. All spaces are activated during the preventive stage for heatwaves, from 15 June to 15 September.

Courtesy of Barcelona City Council
Courtesy of Barcelona City Council

Most of the buildings included in the program were already fit to offer relief to citizens, and the city only had to designate them as such. Additional locations are retrofitted to comply with the requirements with financial help from Urban Innovation Action (UIA), a European Commission program as part of the ‘Adapting schools to climate change through green, blue and grey’ project. The number of climate shelters in Barcelona now stands at 163, located around all the city’s districts, assuring that nearly 90% of the population has shelter within 10 minutes from home on foot.


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The city of Paris is promoting a similar project, the Paris OASIS project, approved in the same UIA meeting. It also focuses on adapting to climate change through school-based initiatives. In 2018-2019 it also implemented a project to create a mobile app that monitors temperatures and thermal comfort in all city areas. the Extreme App helps users find the nearest cooling space, free drinking water spot, or plan the best route to avoid discomfort. Using real-time satellite data and model and city-specific data, it estimates the temperature, humidity, and discomfort index for every square kilometer in the city. It informs authorities about the areas where victims are to be expected. First developed in Athensthe service has been adopted by ParisRotterdam, Milanand Majorca and is being scaled across additional cities.

Museum Frederic Mares.  Image Courtesy of Barcelona City Council
Museum Frederic Mares. Image Courtesy of Barcelona City Council

Other city initiatives strive to protect their citizens by expanding the green infrastructure and improving access to parks and urban gardens. This is especially relevant in low-income neighborhoods, known to have fewer and smaller parks and green spaces, a phenomenon known as the “park equity gap.” The city of Dallas, Texas, is using health, environmental and socio-economic data to figure out where planting trees would provide the most benefit.

Place des Vosges, Paris.  Image © BD Images via Shutterstock
Place des Vosges, Paris. Image © BD Images via Shutterstock

The heavily industrialized city of Stuttgart turned its challenging topography into an advantage. Situated in a valley basin where heat and smog can quickly accumulate, city planners have found a solution to move the air through the city by using green ventilation corridors. Since the 1930s, zoning measures kept paths open to allow natural wind patterns to flow through the valley, bringing cold air into the city and lowering temperatures and air pollution. A similar measure was announced by Beijing, planning to implement a version adapted to its geography.

View over Stuttgart, Germany.  Image © Mezzotint via Shutterstock
View over Stuttgart, Germany. Image © Mezzotint via Shutterstock

The heavily industrialized city of Stuttgart turned its challenging topography into an advantage. Situated in a valley basin where heat and smog can quickly accumulate, city planners have found a solution to move the air through the city by using green ventilation corridors. Since the 1930s, zoning measures kept paths open to allow natural wind patterns to flow through the valley, bringing cold air into the city and lowering temperatures and air pollution. A similar measure was announced by Beijing, planning to implement a version adapted to its geography.

Another measure with proven results is simply painting roofs white. the CoolRoofs initiative in New York City deploys solar reflective coating to reduce local ambient temperatures. Other initiatives like the Smart Surfaces Coalition offers customized tools to help cities make cost-effective decisions regarding the materials used in roofs and pavements and support local communities to be better prepared for the upcoming challenges posed by the rising global temperatures.

News via Fast Company.





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