Green façade for heat wave buffering on a public administration building in Vienna

Green façade of the administration department for waste management (MA 48) at Einsiedlergasse 1, Vienna c MA 22
Published: 01 December 2016
Last edited: 01 October 2020
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Climate change can cause heat islands in cities, affecting public health and infrastructure. Vienna thus developed a pioneer program for greening buildings, including the façade of the department for waste management, to investigate the effects on heat flow in winter and the influence on the heat transfer losses and heat demand of the building. The facades were also to create ecological niches for insects and birds and positively affect the surrounding indoor and outdoor climates.


North Europe
Scale of implementation
Green roofs / Green walls
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Access and benefit sharing
Health and human wellbeing
Local actors
Species management
Urban planning
Extreme heat
Increasing temperatures
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge


Einsiedlergasse 2, Vienna, Austria


Façade-related vertical greenings respond to urban challenges associated with climate change, such as the heat island effect, and loss of biodiversity. However, they can entail high costs for construction and maintenance and require high technical know-how. Using rainwater for irrigation is a technical challenge for the irrigation and nutrient supply. Finally, monitoring impacts on biodiversity and particularly insects challenging given the difficult accessibility of the vertical wall.


Citizens enjoy improved climate regulation, air quality and aesthetic values, while employees have cooler indoor temperatures in summer. The knowledge and experiences generated benefit diverse stakeholders and enable wider façade greening.

How do the building blocks interact?

Successful implementation of the project required the participation and collaboration of a wide scope of individuals throughout all project phases. A public and private partnership approach enabled public administrations to share the tasks and risks of planning, realization and operation together with private partners (building block 2). The collective effort of experts from different fields further facilitate the creation of an instructional guideline (building block 1) with technical information for architects, planners, developers, public institutions, and interested citizens. This guideline further serves as a decision-making aid when choosing the ideal type of greenery for different facades.


In total, 850 square meters of façade were mounted, totaling 2.850 meters with about 17.000 plants (mainly perennials, grasses and herbs) and increasing the amenity values of the area for the surrounding community. As a pilot project, the greening of the building façade served primarily to advance the state of knowledge on the potential effects of such an EbA measure. Within the framework of this research project (2016, TU Wien, Korjenic on behalf of MA 22), the green façade and its monitoring serve as the first step towards clear definitions of the effects of façade greening on heat demand. The green part of the wall has also improved thermal insulation by 21% (see figure 2) and led to a change in the annual transmission losses of 54.7 kWh to 45.1 kWh per square meter of green exterior wall. While impacts on biodiversity and habitat functioning still require further survey and research work, effects are estimated to be positive. There has also been a strong increase in levels of awareness of this topic amongst planners, residents and developers.


Jürgen Preiss
The Vienna environmental department - MA 22 has been dealing with the topic "heat in the city" for more than 15 years, including the preparation of a climate assessment and map based on thermal images and the implementation of measures, such as green space networking, roof greening, façade greening and rain water management. This measure includes both the ground-based, non-irrigated building greening and the facade-related, irrigated variant as two-dimensional systems or with planters on the façade (“living-walls”). In designing such an EbA solution, it is important to consider the holistic aspect by valuing all co-benefits, such as heat insulation, air purification, improving of the biodiversity, improving the urban design, the human well-being and quality of stay, noise reduction (especially reduction of echoes, eg in courtyards), protection and upgrading of the building substance and the positive influence on photovoltaic systems. Also, the façade greening program particularly depends on political willingness. Finally, the implementation process is very complex and it has been shown that successful cooperation requires several actors and the cooperation of experts from various disciplines. In order to promote facade greening, in 2016 a project was launched by the City of Vienna with experts from all relevant interdisciplinary disciplines working on defining legal requirements and framework conditions, ecological, economic and social sustainability, best practices, quality assurance procedures, and implementation instruments. The clarification of fire protection relevant questions are already finished and the new guideline for facade greening will approximately be published in early 2017.

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McKenna Davis Ecologic Institute

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Vienna Environmental Department – MA 22