Postgasse in Bern to become the greenest street in Switzerland
In a bid to remain one of Switzerland’s top tourist destinations in the summer while managing the effects of climate change, the University of Bern has gotten approval to turn one of their cities’ main thoroughfares into the “greenest street in Switzerland.” Postgasse will see hundreds of flowers, trees and other flora planted on the street to help keep the area cool when the weather gets hot.
Half of the Swiss population lives in sweltering cities
In a statement given to 20 Minuten, the university noted that half of Switzerland’s population lives in cities or urban developments. They noted that while these areas provide jobs and opportunities, good connections via public transport and a better nightlife and social scene, they also come with disadvantages, chief amongst them is their poor temperature control during the summer.
This problem was put into sharp relief in 2022, with heatwave after heatwave showcasing how Swiss houses and apartments are ill-suited to high temperatures and cities were prone to heating up significantly more than rural areas. For example, temperatures in Geneva and Zurich were up to eight degrees Celsius hotter than surrounding areas at the height of the hot weather.
Greening project to take over Postgasse in Bern
To help cities cool down, the University of Bern has proposed a project called "Greening" - a system where trees, flowers and bushes are planted in strategic locations to provide shade, improve quality of life and reduce the temperature on surface streets. To see how the system might work, the university has gotten approval from the local council (Gemeinde) to turn Postgasse - one of the main streets in the de-facto capital - into the “greenest street in Switzerland."
On May 6, the university organised a planting day to get the project started. "Throughout the day, many cheerful residents came by, planted their own pots and greened their own windowsills," noted Matthias Erb from the Institute of Plant Sciences. In all, 300 tree, vegetable, herb and flower pots were planted on Postgasse, with Erb hoping that more plants will follow as more locals get involved.
Erb concluded that the project has already shown that through “cooperation between residents, research and business, an upgrade of the urban living space is possible very quickly and easily." However, he said it was still unclear whether the greenery has made the street any cooler, calling on residents to plant as many things as possible to make sure the project is a success.