Cultural heritage in a changing climate: floating green islands awarded at Climathon Venice

The Climate-KIC Climathon brought together major cities across six continents to solve city-wide climate challenges. In Venice, 21 participants focused on solving the following challenge: “Cultural heritage in a changing climate: exploring innovative and nature-based solution to cope with heatwaves”. The event was organised by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) – International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG), in collaboration with CFZ, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia.Venice Climathon started at Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (S. Giorgio Maggiore Island) on October 27th, 2016 at 11:00 am. In the evening, participants moved to Ca’ Foscari Zattere, CFZ, where the event closed on October 28th at 11:00 am.The winning solution “Float green à porter” is oriented to counteract the heat island effect in Venice using nature based solutions in public spaces. The group has been also awarded with a special mention prize form the public taking part at the pitch presentations phase consisting of 200 euros books voucher.The global event, the second of its kind, was organised by Climate-KIC, the EU’s climate change innovation partnership of universities, businesses and the public sector.

The challenge of Venice Climathon 2016: “Cultural heritage in a changing climate: exploring innovative and nature-based solutions to cope with heatwaves”

Venice is one of the World Heritage sites most at threat from the impacts of current and expected climate change. Rising sea level, exacerbated by local subsidence, and extreme temperatures are among the main hazards to be faced by the city and its inhabitants. Little attention has been drawn so far on how to enhance the city’s coping and adaptive capacity with respect to heatwaves. Venice Climathon addressed the following question: ‘What kind of energy-efficient solutions can be imagined to increase Venice resilience to heatwaves?’, ‘Which form of adaptation increase the generation of new services?’, ‘How combine both mitigation and adaptation options?’

Participants at Venice Climathon adopted a two-fold perspective. On the one side, they focused on energy-efficient solutions for cooling systems in (historical) buildings. Types of approaches falling in this category include, but are not limited to, domotic systems, interior architectural projects, and information campaigns. On the other side, they explored the potential of nature-based solutions, to reduce the urban heat island effect.

The approach was highly trans-disciplinary, combining urban planning, architecture, and business perspectives, among others.

The winning solution: combining adaptation, mitigation and sociability

After 24 non-stop hours of collaboration, excitement and solution-finding during the Climate-KIC Climathon, the best idea was selected by an expert jury consisting of representatives from the innovation, administration and research areas from  Municipality of Venice, We Are Here Venice, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, ETIFOR, Officina*, VeGa, MiBac, Corila and Veneto Region.

The winning solution “Float green à porter” is oriented to counteract the heat island effect in Venice using nature based solutions in public spaces. The guiding pillars consist of a combination between adaptation, mitigation and sociability in a floating and modular island which can be easily replicated. The idea has been proposed by a group composed by Vittore Negretto, Alberto Innocenti (research assistants in architecture and planning for climate change at the IUAV University of Venice) and Denis Grasso (IEFE Junior Research Fellow in mitigation policies and energy efficiency, Bocconi University). As mentioned by the winners: “In the beginning we had to merge our different backgrounds in order to find a common vision of the idea to work with. The real challenge was to imagine a real solution combining both adaptation and mitigation options, improving at the same time the quality of life in the peculiar context of Venice”.

Climate-KIC is the EU’s largest public private partnership addressing climate change through innovation to build a zero carbon economy and first organised the Climathon in 2015, in the run up to the Paris climate change summit. Climate-KIC organises the Climathon to help kick-start new climate change solutions, and to inspire and empower the next generation of climate leaders.