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NSW produces urban green cover guidelines to increase resilience

New technical guidelines on urban green cover are expected to help developments in NSW increase resilience to climate change, according to the state government.

The NSW Urban Green Cover Technical Guidelines have been produced by the the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage in partnership with the NSW Government Architects Office, and outline strategies for increasing vegetation and including permeable and reflective surfaces in urban environments in order to reduce urban heat.

Urban green cover includes green and cool roofs, green walls, green streets and green open space, with co-benefits including reduced energy use for cooling, stormwater management, cleaner air, biodiversity protection and increased amenity.

Planning minister Rob Stokes said the guidelines would assist built environment professionals in the government and private sectors to increase resilience to extreme events and natural hazards, and also help communities prepare for a changing climate.

“In NSW almost 90 per cent of our population lives in towns or cities, so it is essential we adapt our urban environment to withstand projected increases in extreme events such as heatwaves, intense storms and localised flooding,” Mr Stokes said.

The guidelines find that urban structures in Sydney increased the land surface temperatures by 1.5 per cent during summer mornings. However, a 10 per cent increase in tree cover could reduce land surface temperatures by more than 1°C.

“This means that a 14 per cent increase in tree cover would completely offset the thermal loading effect of urban structures in the Sydney basin,” the guidelines state.

The guidelines include practical advice and essential considerations on implementing green roofs and cool roofs; green walls; green pavements, streets and carparks; and green open spaces; while also providing information on relevant complementary standards and documentation.

For local government, the information is designed to be integrated into strategic plans, development controls, public domain guidelines or urban design studies.

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