Cool Towns Breda
The medieval inland city of Breda, in the Netherlands, has long recognised the potential issues that climate change will create for its residents and workers. Much of the historic city centre is hard paved, and with the increasing summer temperatures, the heat island effect is making the streets unpleasant during hot spells. Whilst the city is fortunate in that it is surrounded by canals and the convergence of two rivers, so there is some evaporative amelioration to high air temperature, it was recognised by the municipality that more needed to be done to make the city climate change resilient.
The city applied for funding from the EU Interreg project called “Cool Towns”, where different options for reducing urban temperatures were considered and trialled as pilot schemes to test the effectiveness of these interventions. GreenBlue Urban was pleased to be able to help the city with one of these pilot schemes.
One mixed-use street, Menno van Coehoornstraat, close to the city centre and the main railway station, was chosen to demonstrate how urban greening can not only make urban streets more pleasant and healthy places but create cooler pockets in hard paved areas. This road was planted with 16 trees in full GreenBlue Urban ArborFlow tree pit systems, taking stormwater from the hard paved areas, and storing this asset within the growing medium. This storage of water not only assists the trees in their early establishment phase but allows the tree to access additional water to enable evapotranspiration: the process by which trees return water into the atmosphere when the weather warms up and/or wind speeds rise.
This evapotranspiration has been proven to cool surrounding spaces significantly, in addition to the shade that trees give – and without the use of any energy!The GreenBlue Urban products that were used on this project included the innovative RootSpace soil Cell Solution complete with the Air Deck allowing for free gaseous exchange, the ArborCell water storage crate for additional water attenuation during extreme storm events, the ArborVent 150mm aeration inlets and the ArborGuy underground guying system. The whole design was carefully detailed so that drainage from the base of the tree pit could flow by gravity to the main sewer, but in most rainfall events there would be limited or no discharge at all. This use of rainwater has been shown to drastically reduce pressure on drainage networks that are near capacity, as well as bringing us all the multiple benefits that only healthy green urban infrastructure can.
The effectiveness of this nature-based solution will be monitored over the next few years. This long term commitment to research by GreenBlue Urban and our European partners is what sets us apart from other companies. We invest large sums of money each year to increase knowledge and understanding of the value of green infrastructure and then help others disseminate this into the wider world, for the benefit of us all, and future generations.