Climate change threatens the livability of many places, especially cities. From sea level rise to extreme weather events, to pollution, cities must adapt to a less stable climate with climate adaptation strategies, smart building and landscaping architecture, and infrastructure that mitigates risks while creating livable and eco-socially attractive spaces.
One of the key threats posed by climate change to urban areas is water availability. A destabilized climate will make water supplies more volatile and unpredictable, but the way we think of water only exacerbates this threat. We treat water linearly - source to use to disposal - instead of circularly, and this presents a tremendous opportunity to future-proof cities and make them more livable for centuries to come.
Risk mitigation and resilience in the urban building sector can be achieved through innovative smart and integrated blue-green infrastructure - inclusive water management in particular. We must change the way we use water as part of broader climate adaptation efforts. It's not just about using less water, discharging more water faster, or building bigger reservoirs. It's about using water at the right time and in the right place.
The way we treat water today is unsustainable. As soon as it enters cities, we try to get rid of it. We should treat water as a precious asset rather than a disposable commodity. We must reuse it where there is too little, filter it where it is too polluted, and return it to the ground when groundwater supplies are depleted. This would close the water loop and stop shifting the problem from one upstream end to the other downstream end. A circular mentality must undergird every urban design step we take. We must make every drop count.
By making use of every drop as frequently, efficiently, and naturally as possible, we both mitigate climate change and adapt to it
How can we fulfill this vision? To me, the magic word is connection. We must connect systems often viewed as independent - like wastewater, rainwater, and tap water systems - to create circular and controlled water cycles around buildings, neighborhoods, and even cities. Then, we should apply this concept of connection to different disciplines, partners, technologies, designs, and solutions to collectively achieve the most adaptive and inclusive infrastructure.
Wavin offers solutions that can help implement this vision. Our AquaCell technology - made from 100% recyclable plastic - routes water in a more weather-independent and controlled manner, insulating urban areas from volatile weather patterns. AquaCell is an example of a geocellular unit, which can control and manage rainwater surface runoff. It infiltrates (allows water to permeate the soil) and attenuates (stores) water while providing underground tanks that allow trees to grow in urban areas. Our intelligent StormHarvester technology selectively returns water to groundwater, even in poorly permeable soils. When rain is forecast, StormHarvester’s predictive technology adjusts the tank’s water level to ensure capacity for rainwater retention. Instead of letting rainwater go to waste, StormHarvester helps close the water loop by predicting water availability and adjusting accordingly.
By making use of every drop as frequently, efficiently, and naturally as possible, we both mitigate climate change and adapt to it. Best of all, this vision will help rebuild, establish, and/or retrofit and maintain such a water-sensitive blue-green infrastructure at far lower cost than repairing damage from climatic catastrophes.
Both people and the environment benefit from such a future-proof way of rethinking cities and building sustainably, as well as from climate adaptation and resilience that will prepare cities for population growth and climate change. By developing new standards and solutions while driving the global discourse on the future of cities, Wavin is supporting climate-resilient cities that can keep being livable and lovable. We look forward to working with governments, architects, urban planners, and other stakeholders to design cities for the future.