In the next years, cities and urban areas are likely to face many environmental challenges caused by climate change and population growth such as urban heat island effect, higher urban runoff and biodiversity loss. Solutions are urgently needed that mitigate these effects and increase the resilience of urban infrastructure. Blue-green infrastructure (BGI), namely the use of natural and semi-natural elements like rivers, ponds, wetlands (blue elements) and elements like trees, parks, fields (green elements) in urban and land-use planning; are growing in popularity because of their provision of ecosystem services, such as regulation of the water, heat, and ecological balance. However, the design of BGIs typically focuses on reducing the stormwater quantity and improving its quality, and the co-benefits, such as urban heat mitigation and ecological preservation, are often overlooked. Moreover, little is known about the response and the relevance of BGIs in the future, when precipitation and temperature will differ from the historical average due to climate change.
The BETTER project aims to develop an integrated approach to support engineering design and decision making strategies of blue-green infrastructure (BGI) at a neighborhood scale. The BGI elements used for stormwater management will be evaluated to quantify their influence on heat mitigation and biodiversity enhancement in current and future climate scenarios. Hundreds of different BGIs scenarios consisting of combinations of green roofs, bioretention basins, urban wetlands, ponds, and trees will be modeled in Fehraltorf, an urban catchment in Switzerland. These combinations will also be evaluated alongside distributed energy and heat mitigation measures (e.g., solar panels and cool roofs).