GreenTecStyle®, an effective textile solution to reduce heat stress in cities
Sioen’s GreenTecStyle® flexible textile ecosystem solution can help reduce heat stress in cities. GreenTecStyle® is part of the Cool Towns project, an EU initiative that searches for decision support tools and pilot projects that will help cities and local municipalities find sustainable solutions for heat stress.
As a result of climate change, summers in Europe have become warmer with more heat waves and more frequent droughts. Due to this change, cities can become uncomfortable for inhabitants and everyone who is normally enjoying the city. Water may evaporate too quickly, surfaces heat up and there is insufficient vegetation compared to rural areas.
In addition, the warm temperatures can diminish water quality and threaten aquatic ecosystems. Those weather conditions can also cause increased air pollution. Extreme heat waves can be dangerous for public health. The 2019 heat wave caused more than 1400 deaths in France alone, according to BBC News figures.
Spatial heat stress adaptation
More and more people understand the importance of spatial heat stress adaptation in cities. Thanks to those adaptations, cities will become cooler, it will support biodiversity and protect against floods, among others.
To improve the cities’ heat resilience, public spaces need to be re-envisioned. Planting trees, adding water elements, creating shaded areas and installing living walls, for example, can help realise this goal.
The GreenTecStyle® ecosystem
Our GreenTecStyle® is a composite made of fleeces, grids and tarpaulin that provides a habitat for plants and insects where normally no greenery would survive. Thanks to a ready-to-use pocket system, the plant density is homogeneously distributed over the textile composite, and it allows a fast installation.
Our green walls can offer different types of comfort: thermal comfort, a better air quality, visual and acoustic comfort. Apart from its cooling properties, the plants that are used can also help purify the air, impede the wind and serve the ecosystem. The effect of the GreenTecStyle® textiles is that they offer thermal insulation, sound insulation, and they block harmful UV rays.
The Cool Towns project
The Cool Towns project started at the end of 2018. Sioen and 12 other European partners want to provide an insight on the effectiveness of different types of measures. Therefore, they are working on a collection of decision support tools and pilot projects that will help cities and municipalities to find the solutions that are best suited to their local needs and possibilities.
The Interreg 2 Seas 2014-2020 Programme supports the Cool Towns project. It is a European Territorial Cooperation Programme that covers England, France, The Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders). Their overall objective is to “develop an innovative, knowledge and research based, sustainable and inclusive 2-Seas area, where natural resources are protected and the green economy is promoted.”
Planting vegetation is an effective way of reducing heat stress. According to Benny Pycke, R&D Project Manager at Sioen, “it is proven that our GreenTecStyle® green walls can cool down areas with 2-5°C. This is quite a lot, considering that, at the moment, there is an urban warming of about 7°C.”
A living wall acts as a building skin, as it reduces the heat the facades will build up. Compared to conventional walls, our irrigation system, GreenTecStyle® and its plants have a cooling effect. This means that GreenTecStyle® allows for both passive and active cooling. Passive through shading and active via water evaporation.
Cities have mainly hardened surfaces and rainwater runs off too fast causing floodings. By storing the rainwater on green and blue roofs and reusing it to irrigate living walls, you can create cool spots all over the city. Imagine the number of m² of vertical surface that can be used in our cities?
The greatest potential for urban areas is that a living wall can cool down a facade twice or threefold at the hottest time of the day. This potentially has a positive effect on people’s sleep and health.
In addition, the plants on the green walls provide acoustic and thermal insulation. It keeps your building cool in summer and keeps the heat inside in winter. The plants also reduce carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. We can, thus, say that our GreenTecStyle® green walls could be part of an effective solution against global warming.
As our GreenTecStyle® green walls could be an effective solution against global warming, it helps realising SDG 13 that says that we should “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact”. Further, green walls can help reduce heat stress in cities, which helps to achieve SDG 11, stating that we should “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”
GreenTecStyle® can also play a role in realising SDG 3 (ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages), as studies show that exposure to greenery reduces stress levels and improves social interaction. In addition, it improves attention levels and cognitive functioning of children at school, and it results in greater effectiveness and satisfaction at work.
Finally, have a look at the video to learn more about all SDGs GreenTecStyle helps to realise.