Heat resilient development of cities and urban districts - knowledge generation with a focus on local residents and implementation in Dresden and Erfurt

Rising heat stress is one of the most prominent and wide-reaching repercussions of climate change, particularly in cities and densely populated urban districts. At the same time, the mitigating effect of urban greenspace on the local climate is being impaired by extended heat waves as well as periods of drought. This has resulted in an increased frequency of excessive temperatures both in open spaces as well as inside buildings. The general effect is to seriously undermine the quality of life of local residents suffering excessive heat stress in those districts and in susceptible building types. In this connection, a number of new and interrelated questions on climate resilience of cities and urban districts arise:

(1) How can we best preserve and improve the quality of life in urban districts from the perspective of residents – not least in view of current trends towards segregation and gentrification? 

(2) How can we ensure that buildings are adapted in a socially fair manner without increasing energy demands for cooling and air-conditioning?

(3) At the same time, how do we maintain and preserve urban open spaces, which serve to mitigate the local climate and foster biodiversity by providing habitats and migration pathways for wildlife, while keeping in view local budgets? 

Implementation measures in this regard can be designed, compared, prioritized and tested using regional climate models, high-resolution models at the level of urban districts as well as specific impact models. However, one issue that has been so far neglected is the perspective of local residents affected by heat stress, as well as spatial aspects of their social environment. There are major gaps in our knowledge of the interaction between urban climate factors and ecosystem services (e.g. biodiversity, the sustainable climate mitigating effect of open spaces during extended heat waves).