Amsterdam, Rotterdam preparing for harsher climate
The Netherlands' two largest cities, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, are working on various projects to respond to the increasingly extreme weather brought on by climate change. Rotterdam, for example, is experimenting with floating homes that fall and rise with the water level of the North Sea. And Amsterdam is experimenting with living roofs on social housing, NOS and ANP report.
Amsterdam will invest between 15 million and 20 million euros annually in projects to adapt to climate change. This money will go towards better rainwater collection, heat and cold storage, and making homes and public spaces more sustainable. "There is no time to lose, because we are increasingly seeing serious problems and damage from extreme heat, drought or downpours," responsible alderman Laurens Ivens said to ANP. "By making research into new, smart solutions a standard part of the maintenance of the city, we can make public space more future-proof and climate-proof."
One of the projects Amsterdam is working on is blue-green roofs on social rental homes in various neighborhoods. This means plants on the roof, with a layer of water underneath. This experiment is to see whether these living roofs can keep homes cooler in the summer, and retain or discharge rainwater better.
The system works with sensors and can respond to weather forecasts, Joost Jacobi, who is involved in the project, explained to NOS. Based on that, the system knows whether to retain or discharge rain water. "In the summer you want to retain as much water as possible, which is good for the plants and cooling the building and the surrounding area. But if a heavy downpour arrives, a weir ensures that the system discharges water in time, so that there is sufficient buffer capacity to absorb all that downpour. And with that we prevent flooding at street level."
According to Ivens, the new system has great potential, if it proves to actually function as well as expected. "There are also all kinds of knowledge institutions involved. Because we also want to learn from it. Because after this Europe, and as far as I am concerned, the whole world could also follow this example."
Rotterdam recently presented their new floating homes, that rise and fall along with the North Sea's water levels. They go up and down between 1.5 and 2 meters several times a day, and can hopefully cope with rising sea levels.
Rotterdam wants to use water in similar ways in more places, including floating parks, floating offices, and more floating homes, alderman Bas Kurvers said to NOS. This is not only for the climate, but also because of the housing shortage, he said. "Then you have to be very creative. You have to use all the space you have."
"We see that the climate is changing. We see that it is very hot in the summer, that there is heat stress in the city. We also see that there are very heavy downpours, and that we cannot get rid of the water properly. We need to take increasing account of that in our way of building, and this is an example of that," Kurvers said.
The floating homes are pricey at 400 thousand to 500 thousand euros each, but Kurvers expects they will become cheaper. "I can remember that the first mobile phone was also very pricey. So innovation always costs money. These houses are therefore in the higher segment. But the developer indicated that he learned a lot during the construction process and so it is also tuition fees paid."
The Netherlands is currently hosting an international online climate adaption summit, focused on countries learning from each other how to deal with increasingly extreme weather patterns.