Sustainability, 14(19), 12697, 2022
Urban open spaces (UOS) provide an everyday environment for residents to experience nature. However, the management of UOS—from zoning to construction and maintenance—tends to follow efficient and straight-forward processes lacking use of residents’ experiences. This study first collected the views of management professionals on how participation can best benefit management of UOS. Second, a survey used biodiversity as a case to clarify how the ongoing changes in urban biotopes challenge conventional management of UOS. The results showed that especially in the maintenance phase of current UOS management there is potential to further involve residents in a continuous dialogue and activities to account for local perceptions, including residents’ sensing and emotions raised by UOS. Such involvement may facilitate positive human-nature relations but may require new modes of interaction. We thus propose such adaptive management to foster residents’ contribution to sustainability transition.
Geosci. Model Dev., 15, 1735–1752, 2022
Soil organic carbon (SOC) models are important tools for assessing global SOC distributions and how carbon stocks are affected by climate change. Their performances, however, are affected by data and methods used to calibrate them. Here we study how a new version of the Yasso SOC model, here named Yasso20, performs if calibrated individually or with multiple datasets and how the chosen calibration method affects the parameter estimation. We also compare Yasso20 to the previous version of the Yasso model. We found that when calibrated with multiple datasets, the model showed a better global performance compared to a single-dataset calibration. Furthermore, our results show that more advanced calibration algorithms should be used for SOC models due to multiple local maxima in the likelihood space. The comparison showed that the resulting model performed better with the validation data than the previous version of Yasso.
Biogeosciences, 19, 2121–2143, 2022
Cities have become increasingly interested in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and increasing carbon sequestration and storage in urban vegetation and soil as part of their climate mitigation actions. However, most of our knowledge of the biogenic carbon cycle is based on data and models from forested ecosystems, despite urban nature and microclimates differing greatly from those in natural or forested ecosystems. There is a need for modelling tools that can correctly consider temporal variations in the urban carbon cycle and take specific urban conditions into account. The main aims of our study were to (1) examine the carbon sequestration potential of two commonly used street tree species (Tilia × vulgaris and Alnus glutinosa) growing in three different growing media by taking into account the complexity of urban conditions and (2) evaluate the urban land surface model SUEWS (Surface Urban Energy and Water Balance Scheme) and the soil carbon model Yasso15 in simulating the carbon sequestration of these street tree plantings at temporal scales (diurnal, monthly, and annual). SUEWS provides data on the urban microclimate and on street tree photosynthesis and respiration, whereas soil carbon storage is estimated with Yasso. These models were used to study the urban carbon cycle throughout the expected lifespan of street trees (2002–2031). Within this period, model performances were evaluated against transpiration estimated from sap flow, soil carbon content, and soil moisture measurements from two street tree sites located in Helsinki, Finland.
The models were able to capture the variability in the urban carbon cycle and transpiration due to changes in environmental conditions, soil type, and tree species. Carbon sequestration potential was estimated for an average street tree and for the average of the diverse soils present in the study area. Over the study period, soil respiration dominated carbon exchange over carbon sequestration due to the high initial carbon loss from the soil after street construction. However, the street tree plantings turned into a modest sink of carbon from the atmosphere on an annual scale, as tree and soil respiration approximately balanced the photosynthesis. The compensation point when street tree plantings turned from an annual source into a sink was reached more rapidly – after 12 years – by Alnus trees, while this point was reached by Tilia trees after 14 years. However, these moments naturally vary from site to site depending on the growing media, planting density, tree species, and climate. Overall, the results indicate the importance of soil in urban carbon sequestration estimations.
Water 2021, 13, 3334
Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) have been proven to effectively mitigate and solve resource depletion and climate-related challenges in urban areas. The COST (Cooperation in Science and Technology) Action CA17133 entitled “Implementing nature-based solutions (NBS) for building a resourceful circular city” has established seven urban circularity challenges (UCC) that can be addressed effectively with NBS. This paper presents the outcomes of five elucidation workshops with more than 20 European experts from different backgrounds. These international workshops were used to examine the effectiveness of NBS to address UCC and foster NBS implementation towards circular urban water management. A major outcome was the identification of the two most relevant challenges for water resources in urban areas: ‘Restoring and maintaining the water cycle’ (UCC1) and ‘Water and waste treatment, recovery, and reuse’ (UCC2). s Moreover, significant synergies with ‘Nutrient recovery and reuse’, ‘Material recovery and reuse’, ‘Food and biomass production’, ‘Energy efficiency and recovery’, and ‘Building system recovery’ were identified. Additionally, the paper presents real-life case studies to demonstrate how different NBS and supporting units can contribute to the UCC. Finally, a case-based semi-quantitative assessment of the presented NBS was performed. Most notably, this paper identifies the most typically employed NBS that enable processes for UCC1 and UCC2. While current consensus is well established by experts in individual NBS, we presently highlight the potential to address UCC by combining different NBS and synergize enabling processes. This study presents a new paradigm and aims to enhance awareness on the ability of NBS to solve multiple urban circularity issues.
Environmental Research Letters
Sustainable forest management and harvested wood products together can create a growing carbon sink by storing carbon in long-lived products. The role of wood products in climate change mitigation has been studied from several perspectives, but not yet from a consumer’s view. In this study, we examine the impact of wooden housing on consumer carbon footprints in Finland. We use the 2016 Finnish Household Budget Survey and Exiobase 2015, a global multi-regional input-output model. The sample size is 3700 households, of which 45% live in a wooden house. We find that residents of wooden houses have a 12(±3)% (950 kg CO2-eq/year) lower carbon footprint on average than residents of non-wooden houses, when income, household type, education of the main income provider, age of the house, owner-occupancy and urban zone are controlled in regression analysis. This is not fully explained by the impact of the construction material, which suggests that the residents of wooden houses may have some features in their lifestyles that lower their carbon footprints further. In addition, we find that an investment in a new wooden house in an urban area has a strong reducing impact on a consumer’s carbon footprint, while investments in other types of housing have a weaker or no reducing impact. Our findings support wooden housing as a meaningful sustainable consumption choice.
Rethinking Sustainability Towards a Regenerative Economy (pp. 115-129). Springer, Cham
The carbon budget for limiting global warming to the targeted 1.5 ° is running out. Cities have a central role in climate change mitigation, as the vast majority of all greenhouse gas emissions occur to satisfy the energy and material needs of cities and their residents. However, cities typically only account for their direct local emissions from transportation, industry, and energy production. This may lead to the so-called low-carbon illusion of cities following from producing little and reporting low emissions, while extensively relying on imported material and energy flows. Consumption-based accounting, or carbon footprinting, enables overcoming this problem by assigning the emissions to the end user regardless of the place of production. However, currently the carbon footprinting methods only capture the harm side, and not the potential positive effects, the restorative or regenerative impacts, caused by green infrastructure, reforestation, and carbon capture and storage, for example. These positive impacts are sometimes called “carbon handprint”. In this chapter, we create a handprint-extended carbon footprinting method to illustrate how restorative and regenerative impacts can be incorporated consistently in the carbon accounting of cities and carbon footprints of consumers. We also link the discussion on regenerative cities with the remaining carbon budgets.
The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment
Currently, no clear guidance exists for ISO and EN standards of calculating, verifying, and reporting the climate impacts of plants, mulches, and soils used in landscape design and construction. In order to optimise the potential of ecosystem services in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment, we unequivocally propose their inclusion when assessing sustainability.
We analysed the life cycle phases of plants, soils, and mulches from the viewpoint of compiling standard-based Environmental Product Declarations. In comparison to other construction products, the differences of both mass and carbon flows were identified in these products.
Living and organic products of green infrastructure require an LCA approach of their own. Most importantly, if conventional life cycle guidance for Environmental Product Declarations were to be followed, over time, the asymmetric mass and carbon flows would lead to skewed conclusions. Moreover, the ability of plants to reproduce raises additional questions for allocating environmental impacts.
We present a set of recommendations that are required for compiling Environmental Product Declarations for the studied products of green infrastructure. In order to enable the quantification of the climate change mitigation potential of these products, it is essential that work for further development of LCA guidance be mandated.
In review to Geophysical Research Letters
Water storage plays an important role in mitigating heat and flooding in urban areas. Assessment of the capacity of cities to store water remains challenging due to the extreme heterogeneity of the urban surface. Traditionally, effective storage has been estimated from runoff. Here, we present a novel approach to estimate water storage capacity from recession rates of evaporation during precipitation-free periods. We test this approach for cities at neighborhood scale with eddy-covariance latent heat flux observations from thirteen contrasting sites with different local climate zones, vegetation cover and characteristics, and climates. We find effective water storage capacities to vary between 1.5 and 20 mm corresponding to e-folding timescales of 2.5 to 12 days. According to our results, urban water storage capacity is at least one order of magnitude smaller than the observed values for natural ecosystems, resulting in an evaporation regime characterised by extreme water limitation.
Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, Vol 57, January 2021
Cities have been identified as key actors in climate change mitigation. Nature based carbon sinks have been suggested as a means of mitigating the greenhouse gas emissions of cities. Although there are several studies on the carbon storage and sequestration (CSS) of urban green, the role of residential sites is not fully understood. In addition, the carbon storage of soils is often excluded. Also the implications for planning require more attention. This study estimates the CSS potential of trees and biochar in urban residential yards and identifies effective means to enhance it. Moreover, the study discusses the results at the city scale. The research is based on a case study in Helsinki, Finland, and applies i-Tree planting tool to assess the current and potential life cycle CSS of the case area. The results reveal that trees and the mixing of biochar into growing medium can increase the CSS considerably. The CSS potential of the case area is 520 kg CO2 per resident during 50 years. The added biochar accounts for 65 % of the capacity and the biomass of trees accounts for 35 %. At the city scale, it would lead to 330 000 t CO2 being stored during 50 years. The findings suggest that green planning could contribute more strongly to climate change mitigation by encouraging the use of biochar and the planting of trees, in addition to ensuring favourable growing conditions.