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Topical Collection "Urban Green Infrastructure for Climate-Proof and Healthy Cities"

Editors

Prof. Dr. Rosemarie Stangl
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Soil Bioengineering and Landscape Construction, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, 1180 Vienna, Austria
Interests: urban green infrastructure; nature-based solutions; integral rainwater management; soil and water bioengineering; vegetation technologies; landscape construction and design; natural hazard and risk mitigation; resilience research
Dr. Ulrike Pitha
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Soil Bioengineering and Landscape Construction, Department of Civil Engineering and Natural Hazards, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, 1180 Wien, Austria
Interests: urban green infrastructure; integral rainwater management; vegetation technologies; technical substrates; plant use
Ass. Prof. Dr. Daniela Haluza
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Medical University of Vienna, Institute of Environmental Health, Center for Public Health, Kinderspitalgasse 15, A-1090 Vienna, Austria
Interests: telehealth; environmental health; open innovation in science; health communication; preventive medicine; public health
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Ingrid Kaltenegger
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH, A-8010 Graz, Austria
Interests: urban green infrastructure; urban sustainability; smart cities and smart regions; social dimension of sustainability; stakeholder involvement

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the light of climate change adaptation, urban green (and blue) infrastructures are becoming increasingly recognized, referring to urban and settlement planning and the design of climate-adapted housings and buildings. Green and plant-based solutions (such as green roofing, green façading, street and open space greenery etc.) have become an issue in combatting urban heat and associated health stresses.

In 2013, the European Commission launched the Green Infrastructure Strategy, defining Green Infrastructure (GI) as a policy objective in order to preserve natural capital. To create and improve the knowledge base was one of the top concerns to enhance strategic developments for implementation. By using nature-based solutions, urban green infrastructure is intended to preserve and advance biodiversity and resilience in cities and peri-urban areas.

During the past seven years, activities, policies and research have multiplied, and an increasing number of studies have proven evidence on the positive impacts of urban green referring to indoor and outdoor microclimate and temperature control, energy consumption, noise reduction, fine-dust filtration and air quality improvement. Moreover, benefits from urban green on social, physical and psychological health and well-being are apparently associated and increasingly important for neighborhood improvement and district upgrades.

However, a deeper understanding of the complex interactions between urban green and human health and wellbeing is needed to develop objectives and interventions for green implementation and retrofit. The engagement of different scientific disciplines is key for improving current approaches and creating small-scale and larger-scale sustainable GI solutions.

This Special Issue focuses on urban green infrastructure for sustainable climate change adaptation and health and sociocultural improvement. It aims at advancing and sharing the current insights in the impact of urban green infrastructure on microclimate, energy demand, health and sociocultural structures and activities.

The purpose of this issue is to provide up-to-date knowledge in technologies, planning and implementation of urban green infrastructure in order to advance urban sustainability and secure healthy and climate-proof urban environments. It further addresses novel insights in related public health issues. There are still many challenges regarding practical, ethical, and legal concerns, and evidence-based approaches covering technical, natural-sciences, planning, governance and health aspects are scarce.

We invite authors to submit articles to this Special Issue on urban green infrastructure related to the broader spectrum of technical and natural, social and medical science and the evaluation of these aspects in urban and peri-urban settings. We welcome theoretical and empirical contributions as well as review articles, and the submission of research work by interdisciplinary teams and international groups is of significant interest.

The issue will therefore refer to and supplement the Special Issue Green Infrastructures and Climate Change and other previously published findings on the microclimatic and energy-related benefits that urban green infrastructure provides. Additionally, it will provide most current considerations on technology advancement and health and socio-cultural benefits for advancing planning and implementation strategies.

Prof. Dr. Rosemarie Stangl
Dr. Ulrike Pitha
Ass. Prof. Dr. Daniela Haluza
Dr. Ingrid Kaltenegger
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the collection website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • green infrastructure
  • green-blue infrastructure
  • green retrofit
  • urban planning
  • climate change adaption
  • microclimatic improvement
  • health impact
  • public health
  • wellbeing
  • governance

Published Papers (10 papers)

2021

Article
GREEN: Cool & Care—Research and Development of Greening Measures in Nursing Homes in Austria. Technical and Social Interconnections
Sustainability 2021, 13(20), 11469; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su132011469 - 17 Oct 2021
Viewed by 233
Abstract
According to demographic data, the percentage of elderly people within the population is growing, representing a vulnerable group to the effects of increasing heat, but little attention has been paid to developed adaptation measures. In addition, many older people leave their familiar homes [...] Read more.
According to demographic data, the percentage of elderly people within the population is growing, representing a vulnerable group to the effects of increasing heat, but little attention has been paid to developed adaptation measures. In addition, many older people leave their familiar homes and live in nursing homes. The person-centred care pursues creating spaces of high living quality for these people in nursing homes, to which plants and greenery can contribute. Greening is also considered an effective climate change adaptation measure. To create healthy conditions for this vulnerable group of elderly, both technical and social factors must be considered, and accordingly, a successful solution can only be achieved in an interdisciplinary way. The research and development of the project “Green: Cool & Care” dealt with this outset from a building physics, social, and nursing science perspective, and concepts to integrate greening measures in nursing homes were developed jointly by researchers, planners, staff, volunteers, and residents. For this purpose, measurement campaigns of air quality parameters, individual interviews and focus groups, as well as co-creative workshops were conducted aiming to include the objective building conditions as well as the subjective needs in developing and, in a further step, implementing greening measures. Full article
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Communication
Urban Green Infrastructure and Green Open Spaces: An Issue of Social Fairness in Times of COVID-19 Crisis
Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 10606; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su131910606 - 24 Sep 2021
Viewed by 489
Abstract
At the time of the restrictions and lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, it became apparent how difficult it is for city dwellers to adhere to the prescribed behavioural measures and the protective distance in densely built urban areas. Inner-city parks and green spaces [...] Read more.
At the time of the restrictions and lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, it became apparent how difficult it is for city dwellers to adhere to the prescribed behavioural measures and the protective distance in densely built urban areas. Inner-city parks and green spaces were heavily used for recreational purposes and were thus periodically overcrowded. These observations highlight the need for green open spaces in urban areas, especially in exceptional situations regarding pandemics and climate-related heat periods. Green open spaces and greened buildings help cities and the population cope with the consequences of climate change and have a decisive positive effect on human health and well-being. This paper aims to outline which social issues are related to the availability of green infrastructure close to home and which health consequences need to be considered. The COVID-19 challenges could offer a chance and an opportunity to increase the resilience of cities and their inhabitants in various terms. A cross-disciplinary team of authors (public health, urban and landscape planning, landscaping and vegetation technologies science) describes and discusses challenges and opportunities that arise from this crisis for cities from an inter-disciplinary perspective, concluding that urban green infrastructure helps in two ways: to adapt to climate change and the challenges posed by COVID-19. Full article
Article
Health-Related Benefits of Different Indoor Plant Species in a School Setting
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9566; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13179566 - 25 Aug 2021
Viewed by 425
Abstract
Humans spend more than 80% of their lives indoors resulting in an increased demand for high indoor air quality (IAQ). At the same time, indoor air tends to be at least twice as polluted as outdoor air, and health threats caused by long-term [...] Read more.
Humans spend more than 80% of their lives indoors resulting in an increased demand for high indoor air quality (IAQ). At the same time, indoor air tends to be at least twice as polluted as outdoor air, and health threats caused by long-term exposure to indoor air pollution are rising. Few experiments under real-life conditions have demonstrated positive effects of indoor plants on parameters related to IAQ, resulting in improved humidity and temperature, reduced particulate matter concentration and CO2 levels. Indoor living walls allow the presence of many plants—without taking up valuable floor area. This article presents the results of conducted measurements on four do-it-yourself green walls planted with different plant species that are typically used for vertical indoor greenery (golden pothos, Boston fern, spider plant and a combination of plants) in a school setting. Besides the parameters of air humidity and temperature, CO2, mold spore and particulate matter levels, influences on room acoustics were investigated. Based on a custom-developed evaluation matrix, the plants were compared with each other and a reference without plants. The results show that no species led to deterioration of IAQ. Golden pothos had the most substantial effect and delivered improvements in all examined parameters. Full article
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Article
Development of a Mobile Module-Based Wind Tunnel for the Determination of Collection Efficiencies of Particulate Matter on Surface Structures
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9565; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13179565 - 25 Aug 2021
Viewed by 433
Abstract
Ambient air pollutants are a global public health problem accounting for millions of annual deaths. A mobile module-based wind tunnel (WT) was developed to investigate the interaction between airborne particulate matter and various surface structures. The external dimensions were 4.33 m × 1.96 [...] Read more.
Ambient air pollutants are a global public health problem accounting for millions of annual deaths. A mobile module-based wind tunnel (WT) was developed to investigate the interaction between airborne particulate matter and various surface structures. The external dimensions were 4.33 m × 1.96 m × 1.73 m (lwh). The tunnel provided a cross-section of 0.40 m × 1.10 m (wh) and a total volume of 2.84 m3. An exchangeable test section in the WT offered a vertical area of one square meter to introduce variable installations. Due to the modular design, the WT could be divided into seven segments. This enables flexibility in setting, easy transport and set up at different locations. Atmospheric parameters (temperature, humidity, flow speeds and flow directions) were measured. At the test section, determined flow speeds ranged from 0.3 to 2.6 m s−1, with turbulence intensities detected between 9% and 11% and Reynold numbers from 10,000 to 90,000. Losses of ambient PM within the blank tunnel were less than 10% for particle counts (>0.25 µm), while smaller losses were obtained for PM1 and PM2.5. Thus, the construction, performance, as well as the limitations and various possible applications of the WT are shown in this article. Full article
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Article
NBS Impact Evaluation with GREENPASS Methodology Shown by the Case Study ‘Fischbeker Höfe’ in Hamburg/Germany
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9167; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13169167 - 16 Aug 2021
Viewed by 468
Abstract
The implementation of nature-based solutions (NBS) in urban regeneration aims to improve citizens’ health and well-being. Therefore, tools need to be applied to identify the most suitable and efficient location and type of NBS. Within the CLEVER-cities H2020 project, the Greenpass method has [...] Read more.
The implementation of nature-based solutions (NBS) in urban regeneration aims to improve citizens’ health and well-being. Therefore, tools need to be applied to identify the most suitable and efficient location and type of NBS. Within the CLEVER-cities H2020 project, the Greenpass method has been chosen to evaluate different design solutions regarding thermal comfort and physiological equivalent temperature (PET), energy, water and air fluxes. The Greenpass system comprises of standardized tools, reports and a unique set of Key Performance Score (KPS) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI). This paper deals with the impact assessment of NBS by the use of the innovative Greenpass system for the CLEVER-cities project ‘Fischbeker Höfe’ in Hamburg, Germany to ensure human health and well-being improvements for the citizens. To that end and considering the climate change context, thermal comfort is a KPI with high relevance in terms of the NBS co-benefits. Based on the PET within a project area Greenpass calculates the Thermal Comfort Score (TCS). The share of the different PET classes within the project area is multiplied with a weighting factor and summarized to the TCS. The results of the climate resilience analysis of the urban development area ‘Fischbeker Höfe’ in Hamburg are presented and discussed in comparison to a conventional architecture that disregards NBS, showing improvement with regards to four out of five KPS. Based on the evaluation results, advice is given to the co-creative design team on how to further improve the design towards climate resilience. The Greenpass system has proven to be a powerful and tailored tool to support climate resilient urban design and architecture. It provides a standardized and comprehensible but still scientific basis for decisions in a highly efficient and understandable way. Full article
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Article
Exploring the Potential Risk of Heavy Metal Pollution of Edible Cultivated Plants in Urban Gardening Contexts Using a Citizen Science Approach in the Project “Heavy Metal City-Zen”
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8626; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13158626 - 02 Aug 2021
Viewed by 896
Abstract
Urban gardening has become increasingly popular, creating green oases in cities; however, many of these activities are undertaken in areas of high traffic density or on ex-brown field sites. As a consequence, there are still some barriers to the adoption of these urban [...] Read more.
Urban gardening has become increasingly popular, creating green oases in cities; however, many of these activities are undertaken in areas of high traffic density or on ex-brown field sites. As a consequence, there are still some barriers to the adoption of these urban gardening practices for food production. One of the public concerns is the transfer of urban pollutants such as heavy metals into the consumer’s food chain, however, city-wide data is often difficult and expensive to collect. In the citizen science project described herein, we conducted simple citizen-led common collaborative experiments in urban community gardens. These data provided information on the potential risk of heavy metal contaminants and ways in which to mitigate those risks in an urban gardening context. Generally, values were below guideline thresholds, however, at a few garden sites, soil trace metal concentrations (Pb, Cd, Zn) exceeded Austrian recommended limits. Moreover, only at two sites were plant trace metal concentrations shown to be above European food standards limits. Given the citizen’s positive response to the project, we suggest expanding this study to the whole of Vienna, giving newly established gardens a chance to predetermine the risks posed by their local soils. Full article
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Review
The Socioeconomic Welfare of Urban Green Areas and Parks; A Literature Review of Available Evidence
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7863; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13147863 - 14 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 567
Abstract
Urban green areas present a lucid example for the harmonious co-existence of the artificial and natural environments best illustrated by their interdependence and interconnection in urban spaces. Urban green areas are essential for the health and wellbeing of citizens. The present study aimed [...] Read more.
Urban green areas present a lucid example for the harmonious co-existence of the artificial and natural environments best illustrated by their interdependence and interconnection in urban spaces. Urban green areas are essential for the health and wellbeing of citizens. The present study aimed to investigate those multiple benefits for citizens that arise through the existence of urban green areas, as well as important policy dimensions that should be considered when designing the expansion of urban green spaces in urban development. The study was based on a literature review to examine for available evidence on the benefit levels derived by the existence of urban green areas. An extended literature review was followed by a structured review, based on specific inclusion and exclusion criteria, which partly followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The search was conducted in two databases, and a total of 1674 articles and abstracts were identified through the database searches. After removing 114 duplicates, 1560 records were initially screened based on title and abstract. Following inclusion and exclusion criteria, 14 articles were incorporated in the structured review and a total of 47 in the extended review. The extended literature review identified 33 additional articles examining aspects of benefits that did not fall under the pre-established inclusion and exclusion criteria used in the structured review, such as health benefits and other social parameters associated with urban green spaces. The selected studies were allocated in five principal groups according to study types: three of the them consisted of studies employing “willingness to pay” (WTP) methods, five were based on property values, two studies assigned monetary values, while another two assigned CO2 values, and, finally, two studies were based on qualitative criteria. The results indicated benefits to citizens and increased welfare levels gained by the existence of urban green areas. The conducted review revealed a number of findings and recommendations that could direct future research and urban policy. Those hints could assist local authorities as well as stakeholders in order to measure and assess the benefits of green spaces and urban parks and promote measures and programs to assist their further deployment. Full article
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Article
Study on the Value Model of Urban Green Infrastructure Development—A Case Study of the Central District of Taichung City
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7402; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13137402 - 01 Jul 2021
Viewed by 618
Abstract
Urban green infrastructure has become an important concept for sustainable urban development. Regarding the joining up of green spaces into green networks, it can have major positive impacts on the environment, societies and economies, and ecology. This study proposes a value model for [...] Read more.
Urban green infrastructure has become an important concept for sustainable urban development. Regarding the joining up of green spaces into green networks, it can have major positive impacts on the environment, societies and economies, and ecology. This study proposes a value model for investing in urban green infrastructure, with impact factors including land use value, energy conservation value, carbon reduction, and disaster prevention value. It establishes that through the interaction between all four of these factors, urban green infrastructure investment increases net operating income. Additionally, as disaster prevention value increases, urban disaster risk declines, and this has an important positive effect on overall value. Our modeling also indicates that in the face of climatic extremes, the construction of urban green infrastructure is increasingly important, particularly in terms of energy value and disaster prevention value. Specific incentives and catalysts for promoting investment in urban green infrastructure are proposed. Full article
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Article
Water-Stressed Plants Do Not Cool: Leaf Surface Temperature of Living Wall Plants under Drought Stress
Sustainability 2021, 13(7), 3910; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13073910 - 01 Apr 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1065
Abstract
Urban green infrastructures offer thermal regulation to mitigate urban heat island effects. To gain a better understanding of the cooling ability of transpiring plants at the leaf level, we developed a method to measure the time series of thermal data with a miniaturized, [...] Read more.
Urban green infrastructures offer thermal regulation to mitigate urban heat island effects. To gain a better understanding of the cooling ability of transpiring plants at the leaf level, we developed a method to measure the time series of thermal data with a miniaturized, uncalibrated thermal infrared camera. We examined the canopy temperature of four characteristic living wall plants (Heuchera x cultorum, Bergenia cordifolia, Geranium sanguineum, and Brunnera macrophylla) under increasing drought stress and compared them with a well-watered control group. The method proved suitable to evaluate differences in canopy temperature between the different treatments. Leaf temperatures of water-stressed plants were 6 to 8 °C higher than those well-watered, with differences among species. In order to cool through transpiration, vegetation in green infrastructures must be sufficiently supplied with water. Thermal cameras were found to be useful to monitor vertical greening because leaf surface temperature is closely related to drought stress. The usage of thermal cameras mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles could be a rapid and easy monitoring system to cover large façades. Full article
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Review
Green Infrastructures and the Consideration of Their Soil-Related Ecosystem Services in Urban Areas—A Systematic Literature Review
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3322; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13063322 - 17 Mar 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 911
Abstract
Although urban soils are strongly influenced by human activities, they provide a wide range of Ecosystem Services (ES) as long as they are not sealed off. This is a major sustainability issue as the loss of soil functions directly impacts ES and further [...] Read more.
Although urban soils are strongly influenced by human activities, they provide a wide range of Ecosystem Services (ES) as long as they are not sealed off. This is a major sustainability issue as the loss of soil functions directly impacts ES and further on the possibility to adapt to the effects of the climate crisis. Green Infrastructure (GI) measures can be utilized to restore previously covered soil surfaces and compensate for lost soil functions. We conducted a systematic literature review to investigate the extent of peer-reviewed publications on GI measures in (peri-) urban areas covering soil-related ES. After identifying the relevant publications (n = 284), we generated an overview of the annual, spatial, and thematic distribution of the publications. Then, we employed an extended content analysis of the published focus topics to assess the representation of soil-related ES provided by GI. The content analysis revealed that the representation of soil-related ES in GI measures focused heavily on the contribution of soil to stormwater management. Detailed assessment of the interconnection of GI measures with key soil-related ES were missing. So far, the assessment of the loss of soil-related ES is not covered extensively in GI research publications. Full article
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