Letting the city breathe

  • environment

Vienna’s green facades programme is helping mitigate temperature extremes in buildings

During the summer months densely populated cities like Vienna heat up intensely and then experience severe drops in temperature in the winter months. With the city’s ‘greening facades and roofs initiative, launched in 2010, Vienna has managed to improve the city’s overall CO2 balance and mitigate these differences in temperature.

Head of environmental protection in Vienna, Karin Büchl-Krammerstätter explains: “In the heat of summer, planted walls have a cooling effect and bind dust. They provide a habitat for songbirds and insects and so contribute significantly to the quality of life and nature in the city.” The city began by ‘greening’ the municipal MA 48 waste management building using over 30,000 running metres of plants, shrubs and herbs, to set an example for citizens.

Research into the project was carried out by scientists at the Vienna University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences between 2010 and 2013. The results of the study so far show that ‘greening’ is having a positive climatic effect on the city. In summer, evaporation by plants is equivalent to 45 air conditioners running for eight hours and in winter ‘greening’ results in a 50% reduction in building heat loss.

With this evidence the city of Vienna is developing guidelinesfor citizens and is hoping to convince them to make use of its grant scheme for ‘facade greening’ amounting to €2,200 per household. Citizens who have already greened their rooftops are said to be satisfied with the results.

Find out more about how ‘greening’ is working in Vienna by reading our ‘cities in action’ case study, below.