Green Factor: Adapting urban public spaces to climate change
City/Region : Durango Local Council , Spain

The Green Factor approach aims to mitigate the harmful effects on the environment and improve people’s health by developing the Faktore Berdea tool, in an attempt to adapt public spaces to climate change. Designing public spaces using carefully selected vegetation and appropriate materials mitigates the flood risk, reduces the heat island effect in urban areas, and improves the quality and liveability of public spaces, thus increasing the positive health effects for the residents, and adapting the city to the risks of climate change.

Agendas addressed
Climate change
Pathways followed
  • Ensure equal access to municipal services
  • Implement sustainable procurement principles
  • Pursue a shift towards a circular economy
  • Wisely select and apply smart technologies
  • Accelerate sustainability and innovation through public procurement
  • Prepare policies for socio-cultural changes due to innovation

Durango's Plan to Combat Climate Change (2010) sets specific climate change mitigation and adaptation targets, thus contributing to the Climate Change Strategy of the Basque Country 2050. Durango likewise signed  the Compact of Mayors initiative (2015), assuming the goal of adapting urban space by means of its climate change transformation.

A tool has been designed to aid that transformation: It analyses the climate risk areas (water, biodiversity, health, interior and exterior urban planning) and provides information on our city’s vulnerabilities. The greatest risk is centred on interior urban planning, where the greatest vulnerabilities stem from temperature fluctuations, heat waves and flooding, thus increasing the heat island effect. It was essential to create a tool which helps urban planners to redesign public spaces by seeking their greater permeability and adapting the city based on corridors connecting those spaces, thus creating a green network that creates a healthier environment for people.

In Action

FAKTOR BERDE is an urban design tool that seeks, by categorising the different types of public spaces, to guarantee sufficient shaded urban environments and permeable surfaces to reduce the heat island effect in summer in the urban public space.  This will also cut energy consumption and improve urban comfort. The tool was created to be used in the urban design of Durango’s public spaces and to keep a sufficient level of new planned green infrastructures that guarantee urban comfort. An opportunity has been created to redefine urban planning, by setting the desired targets to improve the resilience of urban areas to face climate change risks.

The main benefits of using the green factor tool are as follows:

  • Better green infrastructures
  • Better water resource management
  • Social and ecological benefits

Consequently, Durango has an urban transformation in place based on a green network designed using the goals and results set by FAKTOR BERDE. The green network consists of a series of green urban spaces connected by means of corridors that comply with the results obtained using the implemented tool. The design of the different elements making up the network must comply with the following guidelines:

  • Designing quality spaces (aesthetic, vegetation, seasonality, colour)
  • Guaranteeing pedestrian accessibility to the public space
  • Providing urban fixtures and installations that improve seasonal quality
  • Fostering the use and enjoyment of the space (reducing noise, benches, games, etc.)
  • Showcasing identifying features (special trees, iconic buildings, fountains, etc)
  • Changing the ways we get around, with a focus on pedestrians and/or cycling
  • Greater public safety
  • Citizen participation in designing the public space
  • Providing the spaces with greater permeability and avoiding risks of flooding
  • Thermal comfort
  • Achieving greater CO2 emissions absorption and climate change adaptation by means of spaces with more and better quality vegetation

Durango’s Green Network creates a system of interlinked spaces, related to their immediate natural environment in order to improve the ecological and environmental functions and the life of the municipality.

The green network’s role is fundamental for the liveability of the municipality, health and quality of life of its residents.

A total of 26 green public spaces where people can spend quality time have been identified, along with 22 blue hubs to spend time near to water (by means of the connection between people and the river), and linked by means of corridors designed using the FAKTOR BERDE tool.


The FAKTOR BERDE tool proposes the characteristics required for a space to be transformed and a set of interventions aimed at:

  • Increasing the free spaces
  • Bringing the residents closer to the free spaces
  • Improving sustainable accessibility
  • Increasing urban biodiversity
  • Improving water drainage
  • Improving the fixation of other air pollutants
  • Reducing noise pollution
  • Designing new developments aimed at connecting and increasing the green network

On the other hand, the aim is to convert spaces into comfortable places to be, involving greater social participation in the designing of the spaces, to turn them into intergenerational relationship hubs, along with fostering the modal change to people getting round on foot or by bike.

In short, it is an urban transformation with a great socio-economic impact by means of climate change adaptation.

Challenges and lessons learned

Different challenges or difficulties can be encountered in different phases:

Design phase:

  • Regarding the knowledge of the city. Conducting a careful assessment of the city’s climate risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Designing a tool adaptable to any city. It can be adapted to different cases according to the desired adaptation level.

Implementation phase:

  • Implementation planning is needed. We are talking about urban transformation, about redesigning the city. And that means long-term planning. Not thinking in the short term.
  • Involving the citizens from the design phase of the desirable city and in the implementation of the spaces.


ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability
European Secretariat

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg

Tel.: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
Fax: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 19



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