National Heat Action Day – how does Würzburg become heat resistant?

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Written By Kampretz Bianca

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Würzburg is one of the hottest cities in Germany in summer. With its location in the basin and a height of 166 meters above sea level, the city on the Main has increasingly experienced temperatures of 35 to 40 degrees Celsius in the shade since the turn of the millennium. Especially in the densely populated and often closed city center, heat increases due to the heat island effect, explains head of the “Office for Climate and Sustainability” Christian Göpfert. This means that buildings store heat and release it at night. This means there is no additional cooling.

Heat warnings at stops and facilities

One of the consequences: more and more heat-related health problems. This was demonstrated by a survey carried out by the Würzburg district medical association last August. But this must change. To protect the population of Würzburg, the The City Council approved an action plan for spring 2023 heating. This plan was developed by the city’s “Climate and Sustainability Office”. In future, there will be heat warnings in public spaces on critical days. This should provide organizations such as health and care facilities or daycare centers with behavioral boosts on particularly hot days.

Tips for Relief

The city hall also summarized some tips in leaflets in simple language and in several foreign languages. This includes ventilating the apartment at night and darkening it in the morning, cooling the body with damp cloths, drinking regularly, and covering the head. It sounds trite, but many people need this information, says Mayor Martin Heilig, who, as head of the environmental department, is officially the climate mayor.

The heat action plan collects, coordinates and develops all measures. “2022 was the second hottest summer in Würzburg, only 2018 was hotter,” said Heilig (Alliance 90/The Greens). “We have to expect more records in the future and prepare for them.” Additionally, the city is working on how the urban area can be cooled in the medium to long term in the summer.

Urban planning with climate in mind

Bringing in fresh air and removing hot, oppressive air is also crucial. According to Heilig, this requires urban planning that keeps air corridors free from disruptive obstacles. “We used to say, according to the development plan, we can build a tall building right now. Now we’re doing a lot of research to see how a planned building would affect the climate.”

The city also wants to invest in more green spaces and in preparing trees and shrubs for dry periods in the summer. In the future, buildings will need to be insulated from both cold and heat. New sources of drinking water should also provide relief. The city put the first ones into operation on the Unterer Markt and Juliuspromenade last summer. However, free drinking water must be tested several times a week.

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