Simultaneously with the closing of the scientific conference also the research project on the climate change impact assessment on housing estates which so far is the most comprehensive project of such type in Riga and in the entire Latvia, has come to an end. The findings and conclusions drawn from the research conducted within the framework of the project show that climate changes already have a major impact on densely populated urban areas and affects the quality of life and health of people living there.
The climate change consequences growing more intense in the future, the impact will be even larger - indicating towards the necessity of more serious involvement of the responsible municipal authorities in finding and implementing proper measures for the prevention of consequences caused by climate change and improvement of the quality of life in housing estates; to be developed is a complex set of measures and an action plan – both from the perspective of informative measures, renovation and heat insulation of multi-apartment houses and for greening and landscaping of the surrounding territory.
“Within the framework of the project which lasted a year we have completed a comprehensive study and have come to substantiated, fundamental and vital conclusions and findings which will allow the Riga city Architect’s Office in cooperation with the researchers from the Riga Stradiņš University to continue the work upon elaboration and improvement of a complex territory renovation conception, which, on its turn, will allow the responsible municipal authorities take active measures to mitigate the impact and the consequences of climate change already in the nearest future, therewith improving the microclimate of housing estate areas and the quality of life of people living there. As noted by the Riga city architect Gvido Princis: „We take special pride in the fact that the project and the conducted research were highly regarded by the participants of the conference, recognizing it to be innovative from the perspective of housing estate renovation approach perspective”.
The essence and the mission of the project was to conduct an inter-disciplinary research aimed at identification of the most effective means for mitigating the negative impact of climate change upon housing estates of the city of Riga (similarly as elsewhere in Latvia) - buildings, external space, landscape, infrastructure and accordingly also upon health and quality of life of people living there, by making recommendations for the measures to be implemented for adaptation of housing estates to climate changes in order to achieve an improvement of the quality of life already in near future.
The project involved a number of large-scale studies, among them air quality, dust and temperature testing in several housing estates of Riga, elaboration of a Riga city surface temperature map and analysis of the health condition of people living in the housing estate, technical surveying and engineering monitoring of 132 different series housing estates in Riga, a survey of 3000 persons living in housing estates to find out what they know about the technical condition of their property and their attitude towards heat insulation and renovation of buildings etc.
The study also included elaboration of Riga city surface temperature map which demonstrates significant differences in certain areas of the city and in separate cases the land surface temperature in Riga may even exceed 50°C. Having studied the air temperature in housing estate’ areas in Riga, the researchers concluded that the area-specific differences are considerable and the situation in the given areas during heat waves is not positive and affects the microclimate of the area, affecting also the comfort and health of people living there. Parks and green areas have a major role and impact upon the temperature in the city. In green areas the air temperature is considerably lower than on the nearby street which is surrounded by buildings, cobblestoned and paved areas. The conditions in housing estates are similar – in case it is a built up and paved area, the air temperature is much higher than in the adjacent parks.
Some aspects of the study were also devoted to the analysis of the technical condition, microclimate and quality of life in serial apartment houses in the outskirts of Riga. All in all we have collected data about 132 serial apartment houses (of different series - 318., 319., 464., 467. and 602) in diverse housing estates in Imanta, Ziepniekkalns, Jugla, Purvciems, built in the previous century, in the time period 1970 – 1990. The main conclusion draw was that the overall technical condition of multi-apartment houses in Riga is satisfactory - there is a number of standard defects to be eliminated for the purpose of improving the engineering condition of the building, increasing energy efficiency and enhancing the microclimate and the quality of life.
Having measured the urban environmental noise level in the housing estates of the city of Riga, it was concluded that the widest range of noise is experienced in the centre of the city (52,1 - 76,9 dB); western part of Purvciems (44,3 – 69,5 dB) and in Jugla (50,1 -72,6 dB). Whereas the lowest level of noise and invariable noise range was observed in Imanta – not exceeding the threshold of 65 dB (46.9 – 63.6 dB).
The research also deals with the exposures caused by environmental changes and other risks caused by industrially advanced society and its impact upon people living in the city and their health. For example, noise accounts for the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases, causes sleep disorders, cognitive disorders, affects pregnancy etc. The impact of permanent noise above 50 dB brings along the risk of myocardial infarction. We have to take into consideration that the impact of climate change, particularly upon the health of its population will increase in the future. The potential dangers in Latvia are associated with the increase of temperature, formation of urban heat islands, stronger winds followed by increased concentration of dust.
One of the aims of the study was to study the level of awareness and the attitude of the responsible institutions, decision-takers and population towards the risks and threats resulting from climate change, contextually with their impact upon public health and urban environment in general. An important conclusion – people have no awareness and understanding of the impact of climate change upon their health, quality of life and living environment, whereas public authorities associate any climate change consequences, e.g. flood, extreme heat with short-term solutions, devoting too less attention to action plans and strategies for the future.
The final results of the study are summarized in May. Because of the high public interest on the project outcomes, the research performed within the framework of the project are published and made public on the webpage: www.rigasklimats.lv.
The project „The assessment of climate impact, adaptability to climate changes and the social and economic possibilities of such adaptability for multi-apartment building blocks in Riga and Latvia” („Sustainable development of multi-apartment housing estates in Riga”) is co-financed by the EEA financial instrument. The total project implementation costs are: 136 thousand euro, out of which 15% are financed by the Riga city municipality. The implementation of the project is ensured by the Riga city Architect’s office, partner - Rīga Stradiņš University, which is represented by the Institute for Occupational Safety and Environmental Health. Project implementation term – April 2016.
All project results are published in Latvian language and there are interests for these materials please feel free to contact project team
The results of researches:
1. Environmental part
2. Spatial and social part
3. Technical part
4. Socio-economic calculation part