How to meet an increasing concern of citizens in a city climate

How to meet an increasing concern of citizens in a city climate

Energy and Buildings, 15 - 16 (1990/91) 11 - 14 11 How to Meet an I n c r e a s i n g C o n c e r n of Citizens in a City Climate KARL HOSCHELE Ins...

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Energy and Buildings, 15 - 16 (1990/91) 11 - 14


How to Meet an I n c r e a s i n g C o n c e r n of Citizens in a City Climate KARL HOSCHELE

Institut fiir Meteorologie und Klimaforschung, Universitdt Karlsruhe/Kernforschungszentrum, Karlsruhe (Germany)


The application of climatological knowledge to building design and urban planning is not only a problem of communication and understanding between meteorologists, civil engineers, architects and urban planners. At present it is increasingly a problem of knowledge transfer to laymen, of discussing and arguing with representatives of building owners, tenants or the general public. This is true for cities in highly industrialized and populated regions in temperate cli~nates as in Central Europe, and also for the rapidly growing cities and settlements in less-developed countries in subtropical or tropical areas. In both cases, administrations have tried to put through the results of centralized planning by experts with decreasing success. Decisions often have been the outcome of simple additive weighting methods applied according to a recipe with a set of objectives, adopted and predetermined by the administration. In the future, the participation of citizens and representatives of various interested groups in the planning process should be used as an opportunity to foster the role of climatological concerns. The appropriate ways for communication and for decision-making by discussion, learning, selecting and eliminating possible solutions in a stepwise process are treated and illustrated by examples.

INTRODUCTION-- GROWING AWARENESS OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS All over the world increasing numbers of people are worried about environmental conditions. The slow, man-made de t e r i or a t i on of the biosphere, the poisoning of food to eat and air to breath, ranks just besides the dread of war, famines or catastrophes such as hurricanes and earthquakes. This is true for highly 0378-7788/91/$3.50

developed and industrialized countries; here the public concern in environmental problems sets limits to further economic growth. It is also true for the less-developed part of the world, where the ruthless exploration of natural resources for the rapidly increasing population in the long term endangers the basis of the fragile environmental and economic system.

GROWING URBANIZATION A second point is t hat in all countries a growing part of the population is aggregated in large cities, with their special environmental problems. In Japan, in Western and Central Europe or in the U.S.A. with stagnating or slowly increasing population, urbanization has reached a high level of about 50% living in cities of more t han 10 000 inhabitants and 10- 12% in cities with one million and more. In many developing countries in the subtropical or tropical zone with an exploding population the increase occurs in large and very large cities, covering extended areas with primitive settlements, lacking in precautions for public health and for the protection of environmental conditions. In Brazil, for example, almost 25% of the whole population live in metropolitan areas with more t h a n one million inhabitants (Fig. 1). So people in all countries are aware of and concerned in the problems of urban environment, especially of the atmospheric urban environment with air pollution, thermal loads and noise.

THE ROLE OF INFORMATION MEDIA This worldwide awareness of common problems is one consequence of an intensified communication, fostered by the media such as books, newspapers, radio, television. Another © Elsevier Sequoia/Printed in The Netherlands



I n c r e a s i n g U r b a n i z a t i o n in Brazil

I [] 1960 [] 1970 [] 1980 [] 1985 ]


IJ. City size (inhabitants)

Fig. 1. Example of a country with a very rapidly growing population; in Brazil the increase from a total of 70 million in 1960 to 136 million in 1985 has occurred in large and very large cities up to 10 million people, and after 1985 more than 10 million inhabitants [1].

consequence or parallel development is the growing self-confidence of citizens and their critical attitude towards all kinds of authorities, governments, city administrations, politicians, or experts. As scientists or experts in urban planning, architecture, climatology and related disciplines are trying to realize ideas or to give advice, we have to take into account these altered and still changing conditions, otherwise we might address the wrong people and our recommendations will be written in the sand.


In our scientific or technical journals, in reports about specialist meetings, in our lectures for students or whatever audience, we normally have a statement about the necessity to improve relations, and promote discussions between experts and to convince authorities of the importance of our concerns. A WMO study about urban climatology and its relevance to urban design [2] gives a list of persons from various disciplines who have to cooperate to solve urban problems: all types of engineers, economists, chemists, demographers, botanists, hydrologists, geographers, lawyers, sociologists, historians, architects, planners, and, after all, meteorologists and climatologists. Our efforts to improve the application of knowledge in urban climatology

on planning only by better communication among experts and with administration people have been without~uccess in many cases. Of course this is not only a problem of urban and building climatology. Similar difficulties emerge in all fields concerning urban, industrial or traffic planning. With regard to this situation, we have to extend our activities in knowledge transfer and communication to laymen, to the general public and to people affected by planning decisions, who do not like to continue to be passive objects. How to manage this task? Shall we spend our evenings or weekends discussing and arguing with building owners, tenants or in adult education classes? Our proposals to cope with this problem are based on almost 20 years experience in advising projects of urban planning in the city of Karlsruhe and in south-west Germany. The original structure of the city of Karlsruhe, the venue of the IFHP Symposium in 1986 [3], was planned in the early 18th century, oriented to the castle of the Duke and so representing the spirit of an historic area quite different from our present time. But first some more fundamental considerations which determined our approach. An important question is: where are the "decision-makers" and how should we communicate with them? Surely it is not only the city administration, though it may be decisive, in how far climatic consequences are considered in official proposals. Are the decision-makers







carriers for information and opinions in both directions. Let us now return to our own activity in Karlsruhe.

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in the city council or in the regional parliament? At first glance the members of these bodies decide if a proposed plan is accepted or not. But the whole process from the idea to realization of a planning project is rather intricate and by no means a procedure following hierarchical structures in one direction. The decisions are the output of a system with fast and slow interactions between its components, from the federal government and parliament level to the so-called "man in the street" (Fig. 2). To start with, the federal or state level is the source for laws and numerous regulations, setting a frame for planning activities. These regulations may be based on the advice of scientific committees, but also on the pressure of various groups. With their vote in political elections, citizens have a feedback mechanism to influence the character of regulations produced by this source. Local authorities have to control the application of regulations, but here also pressure from outside will change the setting of margins. In the familiar picture, with urban or building climatologists in scientific committees or directly addressing various "authorities", they have acquired the role of a small, lonely kind of pressure group, arguing against a majority of "ignorants". Besides the rather slow interaction by elections between citizens and parliaments or governments, councils or administrations, there is a very sensitive and fast interaction and pressure balance, because both sides every day read the same newspapers and watch the same television programs. These media are the

(1) We do not spend too much of our time in public discussions. From time to time it is a useful experience, but it is more effective to take advantage of the strong interest of journalists in environmental problems. We should talk not only about those global issues they ask for, such as greenhouse effect and ozone holes, but address similar problems in our immediate vicinity, urban heat effects or air pollution, and how to tackle these problems. (2) In our discussions with architects, planners and other experts taking part in the planning process, whenever giving our expert opinion, in our reports or statements we try hard to present our results in an applicable form. That means our message has first to contain quantitative and, in a second step, qualitative items. To give an example; the quantitative item consists of numerical values or graphs of the temperature, wind or pollutants' concentration fields and the expected change by the project in discussion. The qualitative character of these results is explained by comparing with comfort, load or health limits, if necessary with a short critical discussion of these limits. More helpful for the discussion with experts and for the public vindication of decisions afterwards is the comparison of quantitative results of the present situation in a certain area or of an expected change with generally known cGnditions, for instance in other parts of the city. This is a very important point, because the situation in different parts of the city or the surrounding area with a good or bad reputation is a better measure for the assessment than numerical threshold values. (3) After this qualification of quantitative results we enter the so-called "valuation" or "weighing". Here we have to bring various qualities in relation to each other. To begin with there may be a competition between separate climatological qualities, for instance thermal or pollution loads. For example, noise abatement by a dam or a wall will change conditions for airflow and may entail contrasting

14 consequences for thermal comfort and for air quality [4]. But the main competition is with the large number of concerns besides climatology, for example geology, hydrology, situation of the building site, ownership, traffic facilities, economic consequences, job security and so on, depending on the kind of projects. This stage of valuation is not or no more the application of simple additive weighing methods according to a recipe with a set of predetermined objectives and weights. The weights are the outcome of discussions and the result of evaluating could be the demand for quite new proposals, starting the planning process again. Therefore the role of climatological concerns and objectives has to be secured and fostered from the beginning of these discussions. Our approach implies contacts and an ade-

quate communication with the general public. journalists, other experts, consulting engineers, city administration and council. So it is possible to encourage these groups to ask for the climatologists' advice, as well as to stimulate and to t urn their interest in city climate to produce positive results.

REFERENCES 1 Statistisches




Kohlhammer, Stuttgart/Mainz, 1988. 2 T. J. Chandler, Urban Climatology and its Revelance to Urban Design, Tech. Note 149, WMO, Geneva, 1976. 3 A. Bitan (ed.), Proc. 3rd International Symposium Climate B u i l d i n g - - Housing, Karlsruhe, F.R.G., September 22- 26, 1986, Elsevier Sequoia, Lausanne, 1988.

4 K. H6schele, Konkurrierende Gesichtspunkte der Zielvorstellungen fiir das Stadt und Landschaftsklima, Ann. Meteorol., NF, 12 (1977) 197-200.