HeatResilientCity II

Heat adaptation of urban building and settlement structures - Actor-oriented implementation support for increasing climate resilience and health care

In the research project HeatResilientCity II (HRC II), practitioners were equipped with qualifications based on research findings to expedite and strengthen the implementation of adaptation measures against summer heat. The second phase of funding built upon the outcomes of the preceding HRC project (10/2017 - 01/2021), which formulated and executed effective, socially equitable, and user-accepted adaptation measures. It also identified key stakeholders, motivators, and impediments to adaptation measures. The HRC II project ended on July 31, 2023.

This knowledge base, which was further developed and generalized in HRC II across various building and settlement structure types, was utilized to offer “tailored” guidance and training to practitioners. This knowledge was also integrated into existing and newly established networks. The collaborative project HRC II was founded on the established research network, which had been expanded to include partners from the field of health promotion and prevention.


The focus of HRC II was on the transfer of knowledge to society. The aim of knowledge transfer was to qualify, advise, and empower actors in civil society, associations, local governments, politics, business, and non-governmental organisations for implementation based on research results. The work addressed specific constraints to implementation that had already been intensively studied in the first HRC funding phase. These included (1) often missing or unclear responsibilities, as climate adaptation was a voluntary task in German municipalities, the low level of inter-agency cooperation on the cross-sectional task of climate adaptation, and the lack of resources in the administrations, (2) heterogeneous ownership structures, (3) perceived lack of responsibility, (4) lack of knowledge, or (5) lack of awareness on the part of the housing owners and managers, the municipal administrations, the affected citizens, and the other practitioners addressed.

Effective communication and cooperation formats were developed for the various concerns of knowledge transfer, involving the actors and their needs. The impact-oriented communication design in the different formats served to strengthen the motivational factors that acted as drivers, such as problem awareness, responsibility, and knowledge. In the qualifications, workshops, consultations, and transfer-oriented communication processes offered, applicable knowledge was generated and integrated into the decision-making and implementation-preparing processes of the actors.


The research concept consisted of four modules:
In Module 1, indicators requested by practitioners were developed in order to evaluate the effectiveness of heat adaptation measures and communicate them in a way that is appropriate for the target group. These indicators were integrated into a tool for the planning and implementation of climate adaptation measures at neighborhood level.
Module 2 was dedicated to the further systematic investigation of a wide range of residential buildings with regard to their vulnerability to summer heat and the provision of building type-specific adaptation measures. The transferability of the adaptation concepts already developed was examined for other regions and cities in Germany. In addition, the developed model chain of urban climate simulation - building simulation was used to analyze the influence of measures in open spaces on the microclimate in the district and also its effect on the heat load in the building.
Module 3 was the implementation focus of the project. Here, new roles were established and consolidated within the administrations. Actors were qualified and empowered to act, a health network was established and a manual for local heat management was developed. Knowledge from a feasibility study on heat-resilient sharing approaches for housing cooperatives was transferred into practice.
Module 4 was used for inter- and transdisciplinary project management, which specifically supported the transfer of knowledge through suitable communication formats.

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



Challenges HRC

What was it like living with high outdoor temperatures in densely populated residential areas? In such neighbourhoods, heat stress posed a significant challenge for residents, as summer heatwaves could markedly diminish people's wellbeing and performance both indoors and outdoors, leading to serious health issues.

It was widely acknowledged that summer heat stress in Central Europe was set to increase due to ongoing climate change. However, the precise impact of this on outdoor and indoor populations, and how effectively adaptation measures could mitigate the adverse effects, were only just beginning to be understood.

How could quality of life be enhanced with reasonable efforts despite summer heat? What role did building structures and materials play? How much energy would be required in the future – for winter heating and summer cooling? What tangible effects could be expected from initiatives like facade greening, open watercourses, and green spaces? These were the key questions of the project. The involvement of residents was of paramount importance here. Additionally, the project aimed to give concrete meaning to the term "ecosystem service" in relation to the heat balance of urban districts.

Aims HRC

HeatResilientCity (HRC) developed and implemented innovative, socially just, and user-accepted adaptation measures to alleviate the summer heat burden on people in buildings and open spaces. The interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research network analysed existing conflicts of interest, enhanced the acceptance of climate adaptation measures, reduced implementation barriers, and thereby contributed to sustainable urban development.

Example districts in Dresden and Erfurt served as real-life laboratories. Here, the project team sought the opinions of residents. Alongside scientific partners, stakeholders from the construction industry and urban development created a creative and innovative environment. The two municipalities facilitated inner-city networking, organized and coordinated work in the real-life laboratories, and supported the development and implementation of adaptation measures through the involvement of their specialist authorities and their influence with citizens as non-commercial custodians of the public good.

Modules HRC

Module 1 | Impact assessments of climate change and various options for adaptation

The module provided current and future climatic input quantities for the districts in Dresden and Erfurt. The adaptive measures against heat stress developed and selected in module 3 were investigated in several areas. For instance, the thermal loads on residents in open spaces and in buildings, the effects of average climatic loads and climatic extremes on buildings, the future demands on building services systems, and the climate-regulating performance of urban ecosystems were analysed.

The processing of module 1 resulted in data adjusted for heat-related climate risks for the neighbourhoods in Dresden-Gorbitz and the district of Erfurt Oststadt, for example, the definition of a medium and extreme summer heat period in the climate period 2021 to 2050. Additionally, input data for the determination of human biometeorological indices was generated. With the help of these measures, the heat stress of the residents in the present and future could be assessed. The effects of future heat spells on ecosystem services and biodiversity were also considered for the investigated districts in Dresden and Erfurt. At the building level, the energy requirements of the existing stock were analysed under changed climatic conditions, particularly for an extension and intensification of summer heatwaves. Thus, the data and tools of module 1 supported the knowledge transfer in module 2 as well as the development and testing of options for climate change adaptations in module 3.

Module 2 | Actors' perspectives on local climate adaptation processes

The module analysed and described ongoing as well as completed climate adaptation measures within the cities of Erfurt and Dresden. By interviewing stakeholders from housing companies, city administrations, and NGOs as well as citizens, strengths and weaknesses of previous adaptation measures in both cities were identified. The collected data was then visualised with the help of a network analysis. Apart from that, international and national ‘good practices’ illustrated how climate adaptation could be practised successfully in cities. An exhibition of 'good practices' was prepared and shown to the public in both cities in summer 2019. Within the heat-stressed neighbourhoods, surveys and information events enabled local residents to learn about heat stress and to become involved with the scientific process. As a special form of inquiry, ‘mental maps’ were used to cartographically detect the subjective heat perception of local residents. The results of those 'personal heat maps' were then compared to actually measured temperature values within the example quarters. The results of the interviews and surveys, conclusions from participatory events as well as expert opinions and findings were processed scientifically and compiled.

Module 3 | Implementation at the level of residents and neighborhoods

This module considered the input variables on climate change (Module 1) as well as the perceptions, expectations, and behavioural patterns of residents (Module 2) from the project areas. Based on this groundwork, specific options were developed for actions at the level of local residents (WP 3.1), the building sector (WP 3.2), as well as in the Environmental Departments of the state capitals Dresden (WP 3.3) and Erfurt (WP 3.4). These specific options were then tested in the two project areas.

The module made use of data and tools from Module 1 to develop innovative forms of adaptation by considering both effectiveness and efficiency. Additionally, working approaches and techniques from Module 2 were utilised for the resident-oriented management and supervision of the negotiation and prioritisation processes to ensure socially balanced and accepted measures.

Module 4 | Inter- and transdisciplinary project management

The close collaboration of scientists and practitioners enabled a transdisciplinary development of the project. A co-design of the various sub-tasks was thus necessary, whereby the contents, goals, and work processes closely reflected the practical requirements, potentials, and windows of opportunity.

The core elements of project management that aimed for cooperation and the intelligent division of tasks were: (a) the joint discussion and management of the main research questions and their linkage by a project steering group with equal voting rights for scientists and practitioners; (b) the provision and moderation of suitable formats for information and communication at the project level; (c) the continuous supervision of planning and negotiation processes in the two project areas as well as (d) the risk management based on wide experience gained in collaborative projects with complex and demanding constellations of partners.