Journal 3 – Completing and delivering the RESILIO smart blue-green roofs
1. Executive Summary
This 3rd Journal edition of RESILIO reports on the progress and completion of the project’s activities and their associated implementation challenges. Its purpose is to map the development timeline over the third year of the project, i.e. the year of completion of all roofs and finalisation of the project. The previous journal editions (1st and 2nd) – which can be found in the project’s UIA page – focused on describing the project conception, planning and beginning of implementation stage. This present 3rd edition describes how the project accelerated delivery in toward finalising work in April 2022. The journal cross-checks progress made against seven identified implementation challenges/risks that have also been followed during the first two years of the project allowing the reader to understand “what it takes” to deliver the Blue Green vision of Amsterdam. It therefore goes beyond presenting technical dimensions of the project to inform other follower/adopter cities on the actual process.
2. Introduction: project status
RESILIO was officially completed in April 2022, having received a half-year extension to cover for lost ground due to pandemic delays. During the last year of project implementation, RESLIO delivered all the critical outcomes anticipated:
- the completed seven social housing roofs, two innovation labs and five private roofs which are now operational,
- research findings towards creating an evidence base of the approach
- the preparation of the necessary conditions for pilot upscaling in new roofs.
Although the development of one smart blue-green roof initially planned under the RESILIO proposal was cancelled for economic reasons, this was mitigated by securing the development of additional roof space to exceed the 10,000 m2 initial target. Roofs were developed according to plan on both social housing and private buildings – i.e., demonstrating the technical potential but also the interest of stakeholders if the right incentives are in place. Through the procurement processes followed, the city and social housing corporations developed better knowledge on the material costings and actual delivery of the roof.
The originally-hypothesized temperature buffering offered by the roofs was demonstrated by the experimental work of AUAS, suggesting the RESILIO roofs can contribute to insulation – and by extension energy consumption savings. Alternative designs for sedum, herbaceous and roof-garden roof typologies were assessed in term of biodiversity enhancement. Moreover, the project demonstrated where real opportunities lie for future RESILIO roof development: this was demonstrated using GIS-based and hydrological model analysis to find the most suitable areas and buildings for upscaling. The analytical work is described in more detail in the project’s final report, while relevant scientific publications are currently being prepared.
The project execution team within the municipality has aimed at mainstreaming the project and incorporating it in the policies and programs of the municipality. For this, the right synergies with other projects/opportunities will be sought in future adaptation projects. It is worth highlighting that RESILIO was previously run by the execution/project team and now “operational power” and knowledge has been passed on to the city’s Spatial and Sustainable Development team to become standard practice, i.e., the city has developed a governance model to secure the sustainability of the project. This is a practice that has been followed in other innovation projects before and has proved to be an effective way to mainstreaming.
Getting here was not easy for Amsterdam. To capture the difficulties the city had to overcome, the Journal presents below how success came about, i.e., it maps the implementation challenges and actions by the city to secure the timely and successful completion of the project.
3. RESILIO’s implementation challenges and how they were addressed
As in the previous two Journal editions, reoccurring challenges in innovation projects have been mapped. Seven challenge categories are identified, ranging from organisation through to technical issues that can occur. Table 1 provides a summary report of these challenges as well as a qualitative assessment of their relevance at this stage of the project and the criticality of the challenge.
Communication channels were established during Year 1 and rules guaranteed leadership was effective.
A change of project manager took place, and the onboarding of the deputy PM was smooth to achieve successful incorporation. His previous relevant experience meant he had direct positive impact on the project. In addition, the outgoing PM continued to support on demand.
Corona-related adjustments were not required in the 3rd year of the project.
Scientific partners were in line with scheduled work and managed to obtain the results of the planned research
Pricing was too high for a particular social housing roof and the corporation responsible decided not to develop it. Ultimately, 7 out of 8 roofs were delivered.
Despite this. 12,683 sqm were developed. Exceeding the 10,000sqm initial target. Shifting development between social housing corporation and private roofs allowed for the deployment of the solution in the most suitable locations.
The procurement strategy was substantially adjusted in the consecutive RESILIO tendering processes, leading to mixed tendering documents, with functionally and technically specified elements.
Procurement for private owner was through subsidy and was own responsibility – unrestricted of policies and regulations. Cost was kept affordable. In this case the city had limited involvement, which is a good sign for future upscaling.
As mentioned in the 2nd Journal edition, the horizontal umbrella municipal “Programme on Climate Change Adaptation” aligns this project with overall city strategy.
Project management bureau + dept. of sustainability act to seize opportunities for upscaling options.
The municipality is also appointing personnel from the finance department to support this transition.
Continuity is secured by the active participation of Waternet (the municipal water company and RESILIO partner).
Good attitude noticed across partners as well as coordinated work in terms of output production.
There were naturally knock-on effects arising from delays, so if a rooftop was delayed automatically the research on it would delay too.
An excellent collaboration with the universities is reported by the City, which will likely build the legacy through new projects. Therefore, there is the ambition for continuity in research too, not just interest from the City.
Measurable targets draft prepared after UIA request and approved after iteration with UIA.
An extensive final report was prepared and submitted in April 2022.
The scientific monitoring of heat measurements and biodiversity, combination with PV systems was successfully completed.
According to the project manager, a larger roof footprint would have contributed to city-wide impact. This is now expected through upscaling.
Presentation within the UIA community took place in Seville (April, 2022).The project was presented in New York after request in January 2022 as well as in other events/literature (Barcelona, MySociety, AIWW, scientific papers and congresses). Multiple neighbourhood events took place for the roof openings – all residents were invited.
A challenge that will need to be addressed is funding for new roofs after the UIA grant. The living lab aims to secure that the project will leave legacy and will support upscaling. Suitable financing mechanisms will be required be developed to support upscaling.
Project team (universities, city, waternet) prepared a transfer document for the next years, after project completion. Information for all partners is provided for guaranteeing the network remains in place. Costs and benefits for upscaling were elaborated. These are found in the project’s final report .
Maintenance cost reductions were assessed to make the BG option more financially attractive.
According to the project manager, while the neutral through to positive Net-Present-Value of the BG option is clear, the pathway for upscaling and transferability is still to be developed. This goes beyond the project’s scope and is now in the agenda of the city.
4. Remarks and future work
Having followed the project’s development for 3 consecutive years, the journal has seen several organisational, technical, and financial challenges putting implementation at risk of delay or under-delivery. Yet, the city and partners have shown remarkable proactiveness to meet the originally conceived objectives of the project, as well as have shown adaptiveness to deliver on new areas upon the request of end-users (biodiversity benefits and PV integration in the solution).
Critical to the success has been the strong science – practice relationship. The scientific teams have now produced the evidence base for future deployment of RESILIO roofs. Meanwhile the city has shown strong and uninterrupted leadership (despite personnel changes). In terms of roof procurement, the partnership showed adaptability when cost appeared to undermine the delivery of one roof, by developing the equivalent roof area in other locations. It is also worth noting that the city managed to convince both private and social value adding parties (i.e. the housing corporations) in developing the roofs. The importance of this cannot be understated, as upscaling will require the involvement of diverse typologies of owners; the city seems to be able to convince them.
While the project has been completed, the mainstreaming of BG roofs through policy integration and financing has yet to take place. The next year (2023) will be dedicated to this as the RESILIO approach now falls under the responsibility of the Department of Spatial and Sustainable Development (Directie Ruimte en Duurzaamheid). The fourth, and final, journal edition to be released in the second half of 2023 will explore progress on this front.
This is the third journal of a four-year series between 2020-2023 presenting progress and the implementation challenges of RESILIO.
Contact: for more information get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, check out the official project’s webpage here.