Sustainable Cooling in Cities

Research Problem

Resilient cooling of buildings relies on outdoor heat mitigation. One influences the other. But outdoor heat mitigation in cities is the key. This is a learning from Annex 80 – Resilient Cooling in Buildings. This was already a topic in a successful interactive session at AIVC 23 Copenhagen.

  • The physical effect of measures of outdoor heat mitigation – including blue and green infrastructure as well as cool surfaces and radiative cooling – must be technically evaluated and quantified.
  • The interaction between local outside climate and buildings´ resilience against heatwaves must be investigated and quantified.
  • The need for and the optimal integration of active cooling systems and heat dissipation strategies on city level must be explored and developed. Including cross-sector solution sets for district level systems, e.g. including heat sinks from industrial processes
  • Beyond physics and thermodynamics, not only technological measures, but also paths to their implementation must be reflected.


Objectives and Scope

1. Identify and optimize heat mitigation/shielding strategies for outdoor spaces within existing, already built structures.

  • physical effects of different kinds of water in the city. (blue infrastructures)
  • physical effects of different kinds of plants in the city and on buildings. (green infrastructures)
  • cool surface materials including sky radiative cooling
  • public solar shading
  • and others


2. Investigate the interelation of buildings and outdoor spaces

(a) elaborate the interactions between urban microclimate and building performance in hot regions / hot seasons and

(b) develop integrated, 'low tech', robust and affordable technologies in the field of interaction of (a) outside heat mitigation and (b) resilient strategies of cooling in buildings. Especially for the case of refurbishment of existing buildings.


3. Identify and optimize supportive active cooling and heat dissipation strategies on city level.

  • heat harvesting from public urban spaces
  • cool breeze towers, public cool spots, etc.
  • district cooling with creative usage of the excess heat, e.g., within industrial processes


Intended Target Audience (receptors) for Project Outcomes

  • regional politicians and administrative officials
  • town planners, architects
  • building designers


Coherence with the EBC Strategic Plan 2019 - 2024

key aspects are:

  • reinforcing the technical and economic basis for refurbishment of existing buildings, including financing, engagement of stakeholders and promotion of co-benefits
  • improvement of planning, construction and management processes to reduce the performance gap between design stage assessments and real world operation
  • the creation of 'low tech', robust and affordable technologies
  • the further development of energy efficient cooling in hot and humid, or dry climates, avoiding mechanical cooling if possible
  • the creation of holistic solution sets for district level systems taking into account energy grids, overall performance, business models, engagement of stakeholders, and transport energy system implications.

The target is a step change both in development of new solutions as well as better and broader application of existing solutions by cross-national and cross-sectoral knowledge exchange.


Initial Estimate for Project Timeline

  • For the preparation phase 1 year (starting in Q3/2024)
  • For the working phase 3 years
  • For the reporting phase 1 year



If you are interested in participating or if you need further information please get in touch:

Peter Holzer,
Philipp Stern,

Institute of Building Research & Innovation, Vienna, Austria