Adaptation: Field of Action Building Industry

Building crane in front of a blue skyClick to enlarge
In the course of climate change the construction sector has to adapt, too.
Source: 106313/

Climate-adapted building will become increasingly important in the future. In addition to technical measures to protect buildings against flooding and heat, urban planning plays a particularly important role. The promotion of urban green spaces and the sustainable use of rainwater are important measures for adaptation.

Measures to reduce damage to buildings caused by heavy rainfall and river floods

Technical adaptation measures can protect buildings from heavy rain, flash floods and river floods or mitigate their consequences. To prevent water from entering through building openings, for example, upstands in the entrance area, in front of cellar stairs and light wells are suitable. Barrier systems that secure building openings are also suitable for flood situations. Measures for infiltration and water retention, such as green roofs, unsealing and infiltration troughs, retain rainwater for longer and help to prevent flooding at the base of the building. Functioning roof drainage with emergency overflows on gutters, balconies and terraces is just as important as backflow protection for sanitary objects below the backflow level. In flood-prone areas, new buildings should be considered without basements. Safe storage of substances hazardous to water (e.g. oil and chemicals) is also of great importance.

Another important measure is the preparation of heavy rainfall and flood hazard maps. They serve as a basis for planning precautionary and emergency measures for municipalities as well as for informing property and building owners and raising their awareness.

At the political level, adaptation requirements in existing technical standards and regulations in the building sector must be given greater consideration. In addition, building standards are required that take into account the higher frequency and intensity of floods and heavy rainfall events due to climate change. This can help to adapt construction methods or even to refuse building permits on endangered areas.

In addition, instruments of building and planning practice must be further developed. For example, since 2020, measures to adapt to climate change and improve green infrastructure have been important funding requirements in Urban Development Support.

Awareness raising and knowledge transfer regarding climate risks and the existing need for adaptation is also an important building block. This concerns professional associations, such as chambers of engineers, craftsmen and architects, as well as building owners, administrations and tenants.

Indicator from the monitoring on the DAS: Funding for building and refurbishment adapted to climate change

Measures for the adaptation of vegetation in settlements

When planting new urban greenery, ensure that the plants are sufficiently heat and drought tolerant. Municipalities need planning tools and information materials that support the selection of climate-resilient trees. The species composition of urban trees should generally be diversified. New concepts for decentralised irrigation of urban green spaces help to reduce drought stress for plants. This includes, for example, the use of water from rainwater retention basins or the drainage of rainwater from roads, footpaths and cycle paths into plant pits in the sense of the "sponge city" model.

Urban Development Support can be used to strengthen settlement vegetation in a targeted manner. Eligible measures include, for example, the creation or expansion of green spaces, the networking of green and open spaces, the greening of building areas and the increase of biodiversity.

In the course of urban redensification, it is particularly important to take into account the principle of dual inner-city development. In this context, it is important to design the redensification in such a way that existing green spaces are preserved and, if possible, new ones are created.

On a political level, the introduction of standards is conducive, for example regarding tree sizes and soil properties such as rootability and water absorption and water storage capacity. Standards could be based on the green space factor or the biotope area factor, which can already be set when drawing up development plans. Monetising the ecosystem services provided by green spaces and wooded areas can also be helpful. This would increase the visibility of these services and thus also the awareness of their relevance with regard to adaptation to climate change.

Indicator from the monitoring on the DAS: Recreation areas

Measures to reduce the heat island effect

In order to reduce the heat load in cities, it is important to maintain and expand green spaces and urban trees. Green facades and roofs also contribute to cooling and improving the microclimate. The implementation of measures according to the "sponge city" model also has positive effects on the heat island effect: Here, rainwater is stored locally and used for irrigation, for example, instead of being discharged into the sewage system.

To promote such measures, information materials, planning tools and recommendations for action for urban and open space planning are helpful. Urban Development Support provides support with financing. In addition, existing technical standards and regulations in the building sector must be adapted to the requirements of climate change in order to promote the climate-adapted construction of buildings.

At the level of individual buildings, structural measures can help to reduce heating in the interior. These include shading elements, thermal insulation or climate-friendly architecture. In new buildings, greater attention should be paid to summer heat protection and ventilation options from the outset. In addition, greening measures in the building environment also have a positive effect on the indoor climate.

Indicators from the monitoring on the DAS: Green roofing of federal buildings, Specific energy consumption for space-heating by private households