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14 February 2022, Europe | News

Catella Infographic: Urban Densification - Climate Change, Heat Islands and Green Spaces

There is no question that we are on the right track in our efforts to achieve ESG-compliant buildings and neighbourhoods. As part of our Catella-ESG-Monitor, we record, document and optimise indicators such as fresh water quality, water consumption of outdoor facilities, land use, exterior insulation materials, sewage pipes, right down to flooring materials (interior and exterior) and the prevention of thermal energy loss from windows. Sounds impressive right? It is, especially when the scaling effects occur after a few quarters. Put more simply: Those who have started early with the time-consuming collection of data, directly or based on energy performance certificates, can carry out the "roll-out" to the portfolio more quickly.

But despite all the joy, it is only an intermediate step, especially as we investors are realising more and more that it is not done with the trade and that our responsibility doesn’t end at the property line.


One phenomenon that is increasingly causing us headaches is heat islands developing in the preferred CBD locations. To put it in the words of the so-called "rebound effect": We optimise or reduce energy consumption significantly in the properties, but when it gets warmer outside, this has clear consequences for the energy balance in the buildings. Our beautiful ESG balance thus runs into the void.


The phenomenon of so-called heat islands describes the difference in air temperature between urban areas and the less urban surrounding countryside, which can be as much as 10 °C. This effect is therefore of concern: This effect is therefore of concern, as currently in Europe around 75% of people live and work in urban environments. In addition:

  • Sealed surfaces store heat and are therefore a major cause of heat islands.
  • Increasing green spaces by 10 % can lead to a reduction of the temperature on summer days by about 3 °C
  • As a real estate sector, we thus must get more and more involved in urban planning processes in order to establish the overall context.


In our current infographic, we have taken a closer look at the current degree of open space or sealing in European cities - to present a first, purely numerical comparison. Besides green space stock, there are also clear differences in terms of density of settlement: cities with a high degree of population density tend to have less green space per capita. This cannot be enough. Berlin, which is supposedly doing well statistically, has an open space that looks more like a steppe than a CO2 reservoir or temperature regulator. Amsterdam, on the other hand, is predestined as a heat-balancing location due to its location by the sea and its high proportion of water.


As you can see: It is another building block on the journey towards ESG-compliant urban transformation and tackling climate change.


Download Catella Infographic: Urban Densification - Climate Change, Heat Islands and Green Spaces (PDF)