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European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
News article13 July 2022European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency2 min read

City rooftops for climate change adaptation 

The team behind LIFE@Urban Roofs is encouraging investments in multifunctional roofs and climate adaptation in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. 

LIFE16 CCA/NL/000096
LIFE16 CCA/NL/000096. All rights reserved. Licensed to the European Union under conditions.

Like many urban locations, Rotterdam is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as heat island effects and flooding after storms. These impacts look set to continue and even worsen as our planet gets warmer. Solutions are needed urgently. 

The LIFE@Urban Roofs team is working with local government to encourage the city's real estate developers and building owners to invest in climate change adaptation measures. They are testing multifunctional roofs with greater benefits for property owners than traditional green roofs. The roofs combine green infrastructure, water storage and energy generation. And they are meant for people to use.  

On an iconic social housing complex called the Peperklip, the team installed the longest natural roof in the Netherlands. They also built a courtyard in the same building, with garden areas for residents to manage.  

De Doelen, a concert venue and convention centre in Rotterdam, was fitted with a new green and blue roof. Covered with more than 2 500 square metres of greenery – the same size as 10 tennis courts – the roof has a water storage capacity of 300 cubic metres or 2 000 bathtubs. A wooden platform on the roof is used to stage educational, social and cultural activities. 

Another city roof is being used as a test location for sustainable pioneers. The aim is to stimulate investments in innovative climate-adaptive measures on roofs. Innovative technologies can be tested on the experimental roof, which has an area of 500 m2. 

The team also redesigned Robert Fruinstraat, another project location and one where residents have a problem with flooding. The work included replacing the sewerage system, changing the street layout to make it cosier and adding extra greenery. 

The municipality, neighbourhood residents and students at a school beside the Driehoeksplein designed new plans for the square and the school's roof. The idea is for the Driehoeksplein to be a place where residents can meet, and children can play. There is more greenery and a water storage facility to cope with flooding during heavy rain and provide better cooling during dry periods.  

Expected overall project impacts are an additional 20 000 m2 of green infrastructure, 3000 m3 of extra water storage, and 28000 kWh of annual sustainable energy production.  

An international partnership with the city of Vejle in Denmark will see the project being replicated. 

LIFE@Urban Roofs supports the EU's Adaptation Strategy and Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, both key elements of the European Green Deal