When space is the limitation, the challenge is not to create new green spaces, but rather to focus on improving their quality, including their characteristics, use, and functions. The urban matrix is dominated by the built environment that undoubtedly predominates over green infrastructures like domestic gardens, woodlands, tree-lined streets, squares, sports fields, and green corridors. Thus, cities must be seen as a complex system where the interacting gray, green, and blue elements cannot be analyzed individually. Proper handling of these intricate interactions should guarantee their habitability and sustainability.
Green spaces are key elements in curbing the effects produced by urbanization. They have traditionally been considered the city lungs; in addition, they provide multiple benefits, both for people`s health and the well-being of the urban environment sustaining social interaction among residents and their connection with Nature. In many cities, when space is the limitation, the challenge is not to create new green spaces, but rather to focus on improving their quality including their characteristics, use, and functions.
It is common for designers to say that the quality of a public space is measured by the acceptance of the visiting people. But the design of a successful green space depends also on considering the ecosystem services it will offer such as flood mitigation, air pollution reduction, and climate change adaptation. The quality of public green spaces is given by their structural and functional characteristics in relation to the environmental component (infiltration area, tree and herbaceous cover, thermal regulation, noise damping, etc.) and, on the other hand, to the maintained infrastructure and facilities like paths, benches, and playgrounds. That is to say, a good design will depend, not only on for whom the green space has been planned, but also on environmental conditions, especially its climate. What works best for a particular locality will depend on local circumstances; the choice of planting, materials, furniture, fences, pathways, and paving, these must be carefully planned and adjusted to the conditions of the place.
Usually, the specialized bibliography indicates that green spaces provide thermal regulation, being considered places of urban comfort. But what are the consequences of incorporating an incorrect infrastructure? Many of the squares and parks in the city of Buenos Aires can be used to show how a poor choice of infrastructure reverts to discomfort limiting the use of certain facilities at times of greatest sunlight (Fig. 1).
Last year we performed measurements in 14 parks and squares, measuring air and surface temperatures of the different materials used in the parks construction. To our surprise, we did not find significant differences in air temperature measured inside the park and in the surrounding streets both winter and summer (Fig.2).
The explanation of finding similar temperatures inside and outside the parks was due to the presence of profuse paved areas that under the sun get much hotter than grass or soil. In addition, the use of scrap tires as a playground cover material is used in several recreational surfaces, including childrens playground areas. On these surfaces, the temperature on a summer day reached 71 degrees Celsius (159.8 F), while on the lawn the contact temperature was only 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 F) (Fig. 3).
Squares (1ha) and medium-sized parks (4 ha) fail to significantly mitigate the urban heat conditions since their own built infrastructure ends up dissipating the cooling effect produced by the green canopy.
It is worrying that the temperature on the floors of the playgrounds reaches, in summer, very high temperatures at midday, which makes this unusable right in the holiday months when families have more time to enjoy outdoors. Whats more, there is evidence of high content of toxic chemicals in these recycled materials used as pavers that can volatilize at higher summer temperatures representing a potential source of carcinogenic dibenzopyrenes to the environment (Llompart et al. 2013). Other chemicals of concern in tires include lead oxide styrene and carbon black nanoparticles.
Consequently, the use of recycled rubber tires should be avoided both for reducing thermal comfort and for its toxicological danger to a greater number of citizens. (Vallette, 2013) and the Healthy Building Network do not recommend the use of tire-derived flooring, especially where small children may come into direct contact with the flooring, as they are at a higher risk of exposure because of normal hand-to-mouth activity (Fig.5). Lets not forget the reason why the materials suffered wear, its that there are loose pieces that can come into contact with children who play in those areas.
The city of Buenos Aires has been carrying out for several years a strategy of improving green spaces to encourage physical activity incorporating infrastructures for active and passive recreation. However, contradictions arise when the consequences of using inappropriate materials are not analyzed in detail. Therefore, it would be necessary to reformulate some projects, evaluating and monitoring the materials they use in the different infrastructures guaranteeing access to green spaces of good quality.
Ana Faggi is also dean in the School of Ecological Engineering at the Flores University, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her research and teaching have been focused on regional ecology particularly on restoration and the conservation of biodiversity.
Ana Faggi is also dean in the School of Ecological Engineering at the Flores University, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her research and teaching have been focused on regional ecology particularly on restoration and the conservation of biodiversity. View all posts by Ana Faggi
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When you choose aluminium from Hydro, it's strong, light, durable and climate efficient, making you part of a smarter and more sustainable future. Our climate strategy is to cut our CO2 emissions 30% by 2030. Our aluminium can help you meet your goals, too.
With more than a century of experience in renewable energy, Hydro is one of the top three operators of power production in Norway, and a significant market player in the Nordics and Brazil. We are responsible for developing new business opportunities for Hydro within both renewable energy, hydrogen and batteries, and we provide support to the rest of Hydros business areas on contracts, security of supply and energy framework conditions.
We are a leading aluminium and renewable energy company that has created business opportunities for more than a century by developing products, solutions and industries that address global needs and demands. We supply low-carbon aluminium to customers world-wide and offer renewable energy solutions to industries that want to power manufacturing in a greener way.
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You can reduce the carbon footprint of your product by applying the right materials the right way. When you want to use aluminium, you should start by using the aluminium that has a light footprint.
Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions associated with a product, throughout its supply chain. It can also include the amount related to product use, end-of-life recovery and disposal. Causes of these emissions can be electricity production, manufacturing processes and transport operations.
We offer an all-in certificate for our Hydro REDUXA hydropower-based primary aluminium, which guarantees that the metal will have a maximum carbon footprint of 4.0 kilograms of CO2 per kg of aluminium. Typically, the amount will be even lower better ranging from 3.4 to 3.9 kgs.
These figures are significantly better lower than the numbers offered by other primary aluminium producers, with hydropower-based production and advanced production technology the main reasons why.
In transportation, for instance, the raw materials for our Hydro REDUXA products are transported by ship. This gives marginal emissions per metric tonne transported. Even transport from Brazil to Norway contributes marginally to the overall footprint.
Low-carbon aluminium products are well-suited for applications in the automotive, building and construction, and packaging industries. This is where customers tend to be interested in carbon footprint for their own climate strategies and where the aluminium can help reduce the footprint of the product in its use phase.
This is a big point, because we want to do more than just offer aluminium with a low-carbon footprint. We also want to be there to bring the aluminium from the end products back into the loop through recycling, says Hydro President and CEO Hilde Merete Aasheim.