Towards a climate-proof Flanders with the green-blue level 2.0


What can citizens, businesses and governments do to be climate-proof?

The online tool 'groenblauwpeil' (green-blue level), which allows households to measure the climate resilience of their plot, is being expanded. From now on, public authorities and professionals from the construction and garden sector can also use this tool for their projects. The green-blue level provides recommendations to make buildings, car parks, infrastructure and associated (public) space climate-proof. The tool is an initiative of the Environment Department, building federation Embuild and VLARIO (knowledge centre for wastewater management). Since its launch in 2021, more than 62,000 Flemish citizens have consulted The green-blue level of almost 30,000 homes and gardens was calculated.

What is the green-blue level?

With the online tool green-blue level you can check how an existing house and garden or a new design scores on "blue" aspects, such as rainwater collection, use and infiltration, and "green" aspects such as biodiversity, CO2 storage, air quality and cooling. To calculate the level, you enter information about your plot (including the surface of your roof, type of roof, content of cistern and infiltration facility, variation of greenery in your garden, ...). The tool gives you a score ranging from A to F and a number of suggestions to improve your green-blue level. Moreover, you can calculate the ideal size of your cistern.

Green blue level, version 2.0

Now, Departement Omgeving, VLARIO and Embuild Flanders have completed the green blue level 2.0. Private individuals and households can enter the level for their plot as before, but the tool is extended to other building types and a larger scale level. Public authorities, architects, contractors, landscapers can now calculate the green and blue level for the public domain or for a combination of public and public domain. User-friendliness has been improved and, depending on your needs or interests, you can delve deeper into the tool. Individuals can opt for the simple calculation, professionals for an extended version with extra parameters for blue and green. Moreover, the updated version makes it easier to compare different project designs and share them with other partners. Finally, the green-blue level has also been updated to reflect the latest regulatory changes.

"For several summers now, Flanders has been struggling with drought and a yearning water shortage. Our weapon against this is the Blue Deal, with more than 400 projects across Flanders. One of them is the green-blue level, of which there is now an even better version. Moreover, we changed the regulations with the installation of larger rainwater cisterns and infiltration facilities, and even the use of rainwater for toilets, washing machines and cleaning. Because every drop counts," says Flemish Minister for the Environment Zuhal Demir.

"If we want to better arm city and village centres against the effects of climate change, green-blue interventions in the public domain are also necessary. The new green-blue level now offers a tool to optimise the construction of greenery, planting trees, providing buffer and infiltration capacity for rainwater. This way, client and contractor achieve a climate-proof and sustainable result," says Marc Dillen, director general of Embuild Flanders.

"Currently, the average score is C. We aim for a score A. Then you are prepared for tomorrow's climate challenges. Sustainable water management is then combined with quality trees, shrubs and plants," says Wendy Francken, director of VLARIO.

"The green-blue level helps citizens and environmental professionals to make the right choices for a quality green-blue design of public and private spaces. This strengthens the realisation of the construction shift, Flanders' climate resilience and biodiversity. Consequently, the green-blue level forms an important link in the realisation of the Flemish Government's transition priority: Environment for the future ", says Christophe Pelgrims, head of division at the Environment Department.

Every contribution counts

The contribution that more than 6 million Flemish people can make in the fight against climate change cannot be underestimated. The area of houses and gardens amounts to about 12.8% or more than 170,000 ha of Flanders, and 72% of Flemish households own the house they live in. Every measure families take to make their homes and gardens more climate-proof makes a difference. The Flemish government therefore launched the Flemish Tile-Sweeping Championship in March 2023. This will run until 31 October 2023 and encourages every Fleming to 'tile hop' or soften as many tiles as possible. 



A fine example of green and water-conscious building in an urban context is Witte Groeten, a town house in Borgerhout . On a 228 m² plot consisting of 150 m² of roof area and other permeable terraces, a lot of blue and green interventions have been realised. These include a 7,500-litre rainwater cistern with reuse (toilet, washing machine and garden irrigation). Almost half of the roofs are equipped with extensive and semi-intensive green roofs. Part of the semi-intensive green roof is also equipped with additional water storage (partly crates and partly open pond). Overflow from the cistern and excess water from the green roofs is drained into infiltration zones (shell bed) under loose tiling, this to pursue maximum water retention. In addition to a 5-square-metre urban garden with native planting, the green roofs are also fitted with native planting. This project is a fine example of 'water-conscious building' on a limited area in an urban context.

This house achieves a nice C rating after renovation while it was F before the works.