Madrid: Improving ecological urban development by maturation of large building surfaces
Spain Local Gov., NGO   May 06.2016





Actors:Local Gov., NGO

Funding:Local Gov.

National Gov., EU, 

OtherTopics:Built environment

Nature and open space

Objectives:Improve national and international cooperation

Increase bio-diversityInstruments:

Reason to Be Selected

The City of Madrid is aiming to improve it secological urban development in co- operation with the university-based project of the Agribusiness-Environmental Protection in Berlin and Madrid. The initiative is directed towards the maturation of large building surfaces. It can be regarded as an example of good practice for the following reasons:understanding of urban and marginally urban environments as ecological systems; reduction of noise and dust im missions and other stress factors;Improvement of the urban bioclimatic situation;.planning of urban vegetation areas;Networking of international agribusiness experience.


The Toronto Declaration "World Citiesand their Environment" held on 28 August 1991 in Toronto recognized thecities as an enormous unused potential for solving ecological challenges. Forthis reason they ought to be pioneers for new methods in environmentallycompatible developments and in urban environment management.In Chapter 7, Agenda 21 of the UNCED Conferencein Rio 1992 the principles for a sustainable and ecologically friendlydevelopment of settlement as well as efficient urban ecological management weredeveloped.


Considering that an important and always growing percentage of the population is living in urban areas and that this population shows an increased environmental consciousness, cities world-wideare facing with the task of improving the urban bioclimatic situation. For this reason, the emission of dust, noise and other stress factors must be significantly reduced. At the same time, city life must be preserved and developed.These aspects are subject to strong economicand social restrictions. As a result, urban environmental policy runs in to numerous conflicts and aims, some of which are fundamental. The switch to an ecologically sound economy must begin in towns and cities.
In order to achieve this, practical stepsmust be taken to include the idea of an environmentally sound and sustainabledevelopment in municipal planning and administration. Urban and marginallyurban environments must be understood and managed as ecological systems.Development strategies should enable cities and peril-urban agrarian regions tofunction as comprehensive ecosystems, ensuring a reasonable balance between economicdevelopment and ecology. An important goal of urban and regional planningpolicies is to preserve and link the vegetation areas within a city and itssurrounding areas.

Indigenous species of plants and animalsought to be reintegrated into the urban environment. An additional possibilityis to protect natural resources (river valleys, forests and agriculturally usedareas) in the city and its environment by the way of landscape protection. Thiscontributes to balanced zones which are required for urban microclimate, thepreservation of recreation areas in close vicinity for use by population andthe protection of bodies of water and soil. These solutions need to considersocio-economic and urban-demographic realities. The use of new knowledge and methodsallows for new solutions with urban and eco-historical dimensions.

The project contains the objectives andresearch assignments mentioned below. These research assignments will becarried out on the example of Berlin, Madrid and other cities.

The center of attention must be innovativepossibilities of an economic and ecologically optimized use of highly adaptedand functional vegetation in the urban space:

Exploring the relationships between international agreements and subsequent national actions on the example of Chapter 7, Agenda 21 of the UNCED Conference in Rio 1992, and the UN Habitat Conference II in Istanbul, where the principles for a sustainable and ecologically friendly development of settlements as well as an efficient urban ecological management were developed taking especially into consideration the planning of urban vegetation areas, including the maturation of buildings.

Analyzing and comparing national and international strategies towards sustainable development in the field of urban ecology, taking especially into consideration the planning of urban vegetation areas in Spain, Germany and other countries.

Reviewing and evaluating how environmental factors are or could most effectively be integrated into the formulation, implementation and evaluation of sectoral policies (construction industry, agriculture near the city, tourism) as well as regional development policies on the example of the planning of urban vegetation areas, including maturation of buildings in selected cities.

Clarifying societal attitudes to and the perception of environmental issues based on the example of planning of urban vegetation areas, including the maturation of buildings in selected cities.

Environmental-economic case studies to improve the integration of socio-economic and S&T aspects in the management of complex environmental problems such as land-use changes, urbanization and a built environment.

Evaluation of proposals for further development of various combinations of market oriented and interventionist instruments and strategies to integrate the objectives of economic growth (building in the city, tourism, development of horticulture and agriculture near the city) with environmental quality as exemplified by an innovative maturation of large building surfaces with highly adapted plant material (extremophiles xerophytes).

Economic and ecological management elements (innovative and dynamic management instruments for municipal political decision-makers) as an alternative to using older regulations dealing with air quality.

Instruments which facilitate improvement in different economic and non-economic fields by means of consent engineering.

Urban-agrarian consent engineering, for example in connection with the conversion of intensively used agricultural areas in the further peril-urban region into an extensive (ecologically and economically friendly) cultivation should be examined.

Development of the basic principles for a tool to assess technological priorities for urban environmental improvement and their competitive advantages; development on the example of the maturation of buildings.


The Madrid project of the maturation of largebuilding surfaces is characterized by different planning approaches inimplementing urban vegetation areas:

Maturation of building surfaces

Bringing natural spaces into urban areas by converting horizontal and vertical building surfaces in biotopes (Scientific Pilot and Demonstration Projects Madrid 10/1994; 11/1996, Cottbus 4/1995; Berlin 10/1995; 6/1996).

Optimizing the ecological and economic effects of these Plant Aided "Bioclimatic Stress factor Sinks" (PABSS)) with the help of computer aided models (Prognostic Model Urban Ecology PMUrbEco) (Software 2/1994).

Ecological production of extremophiles xerophytes used to maturate horizontal building surfaces on marginal farmland in peri-urban areas.(Scientific Pilot project Madrid 6/1994).

Aims of the extensive maturation ofbuilding surfaces (biotope planting)

Reducing the dust load (emission) in the air we breathe by:

immobilization of dust containing harmful substances;

Reduction of the secondary emission of toxic or carcinogenic dusts containing heavy metals, diesel, soot and other compounds.

Reducing traffic noise by increasing the roughness of building surfaces.

Optimizing the atmospheric humidity by:

accumulating rain water in the layer on the roofs;

Releasing it gradually to the atmosphere by plant transpiration.

Creating near-natural urban biotopes.

Influencing urban thermodynamics in a positive way by:

importing fresh air from the suburban zone;

Exporting emission freights.

Relieving the strain on urban waste water treatment facilities by:

reduction of the rain water load to sewer systems;

Reduction of the qualitative strain on the biological sewage treatment process.

Improvement of the energy balance of buildings by the insulation effect of maturated building surfaces by:

saving heating energy in winter;

Natural cooling effect in summer.

Reducing the frequency of roof damage by:

diminishing the circadian temperature amplitude;

No influence of ultraviolet radiation on the outer surface of the roof.

Relieving the strain on urban waste disposal sites through the use of recycling materials.

Decreasing the draining away of rain water.

Lowering the fees charged by some municipalities for the draining away of rain water.

Minimum capital investment

rational "spray greening" over large building surfaces;

No investments necessary for improving the static properties of the roof.

Minimum costs for vegetation substrata through the use of recycling materials.

Saving costs when establishing new and preserving existing ground water conservation areas near the city.

Multivalent utilization of surfaces for xerophyte production.

Development of a new market segment for small and medium-sized companies.

The main emphasis in extensive covering ofbuilding surfaces with greenery (maturation) is on roofs and facades, walls andnoise abatement barriers as well as railway road-beds and selected road trafficareas.

Aims of the extensive xerophyteproduction:

Contribution to the protection of the rural environment

no mineral fertilizer;

no herbicides;

No irrigation.

Contribution to the nature conservation through stabilization of endangered species

establishing of virtual dry grass societies;

contributing to ecological landscaping;

Contributing to the establishment or preservation of recreation landscapes near the city.

Contribution to the reduction of food production (Western Europe)


non-food production;

Acreage reduction (setting-aside of agrarian areas).

Actors and Structures

The management based on the work of the JointInternational Project Agribusiness-Environmental Protection (JIP A.E.P.) withthe leadership of Institute for Agrarian and Urban-ecological Projects atBerlin's Humboldt-University and the Polytechnical University of Madrid


The finance of the work is based on theprogram in the European Union, the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service), theASP eve. (Civil Association for the Formation of Agricultural and EcologicalProjects), the PRONATUR (Societal Española para la promotion de la maturation Urbanay rural) using university, municipal and state funds as well as industry.

Source of Information

Papers on the work of theAgribusiness-Environmental Protection Joint International Project are availablefrom the project managers (see contact section).




Dr. Rudolf

First name





0049 / 30 / 209 39 060



0049 / 30 / 209 39 062




Madrid :

The City of Madrid has a population of2,909,000 and is the Spanish capital as well as the capital of the autonomousregion and province of Madrid. It is a major manufacturing center and productsinclude motor vehicles, aircrafts, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, processed food,printed materials, and leather goods. It is also a touristic center. Importantinstitutions of higher education are the University of Madrid, the PontificalUniversity, the Autonomous University, the Polytechnic University, the OpenUniversity, and the Royal Academy of Music.



Project was added at 14.02.97
Project was changed at 08.08.97

Extractfrom the database 'SURBAN - Good practice in urban development', sponsored by:European Commission, DG XI and Land of Berlin 
European Academy of the Urban Environment · Bismarckallee 46-48 · D-14193Berlin · fax: ++49-30-8959 9919 · e-mail:


Lat: 40.438
Lng: -3.67954
Region: Europe
Scale: Building
Field: Governance
City: Madrid