Federation for
Housing and

Making Cities Grow Green

Green Growth is more than electric cars and solar panels! It is a model of development that looks to manage the world’s resources sustainably whilst ensuring simultaneous prosperity for future generations.

Members take on Making Cities Grow Green

We asked our members about the agenda ‘Making Cities Grow Green’. Check out their experiences below, explore best practice and join the dialogue.

Henrik Rosenberg Seiding, Executive Director Sustainable Society Development, Ramboll.

Green growth is a term which leans towards sustainable economic growth based on investments in areas such as renewable energy sources, climate adaptation, green transportation etc. Green growth is, however, not only something that can be measured in the GDP. Green investments can also catalyze sustainable growth in our societies, in our social and cultural capital, in the liveability of our cities and in our natural resources and ecosystems.”Case examples


Case examples

1. Energy Efficient Housing, Germany

Since 2008 Germany has led Europe in renewable energy generation and energy efficient policy. Under the aptly named Energiewende (energy transition) Germany has rapidly installed renewable energy capacity which in 2014 held a 28% share in the country’s electricity production. Supplementing the energy transition, the German government has sought to encourage the creation of a less carbon intensive society of which the housing sector is playing a major role. Energy efficiency has been the key in reducing Co2 emissions per capita and targets aim for a carbon neutral building stock by 2050. The German Climate Protection programme is working towards this goal providing a clear legal framework and regulation, strong financial incentives and green energy subsidies. In addition, behaviour change initiatives, awareness campaigns and support of model projects have been well funded.


Approximately 75% of buildings in Germany were built before 1979, before any energy efficient policies were in place. 9 million of these housing units have already undergone retrofit with 20 million left to go. This effort has helped create 900,000 jobs since 2006 with strong growth in insulation retrofit and small scale solar energy generation. Such a call to action within the building and housing sector has driven green investment, technology development and export revenue, constituting an important growth area for the wider German economy. The programme is also responsible for the transitioning change of mindset among many German citizens who have witnessed first-hand the benefits of climate friendly solutions within their day to day lives.


>> European Commission Energy Efficiency Directive

>> OECD Germany a laboratory for Green Growth

>> Sustainable Buildings Case Studies – German Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy

>> 10 things we can learn from Europe about energy efficiency

>> Statistics on Germany’s Renewable Energy production


2. Crosscutting Agra Programme, India

Urban improvement strategies have little value if they do not contribute to the betterment of local citizen’s lives and their surrounding environment. In India, poor governance, corruption and a lack of proximity to services limits the positive affect that many urban initiatives have on their intended citizens. Simply put, many of the country’s poor never truly benefit from development programmes which in turn limit positive growth of local communities, towns, cities, regions and the country as a whole.


To counter this and bring real change to local communities the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence (CURE) began the Crosscutting Agra Programme (CAP) in 2005. Agra is a city of 1.8 million inhabitants, located 200km south of New Dehli and is home to the Taj Mahal.


The goal of CAP was to provide a technical support programme to enable better sanitation, solid waste management, livelihood and housing. To do this the programme set up a number of innovative processes. The first focused on tackling Agra’s poor health (citizens) and hygiene (environment) through a toilet saving’s group. Here citizens were helped in contributing to a saving’s fund, providing finance to build personal toilets. The initiative started with one street which became known as ‘clean street’. Residents were assisted in all phases of financing and construction. After implementation resident’s health and wellbeing improved, the street’s hygiene and appearance gained local admiration and resident’s social standings increased as a result. From this point the programme took off, eventually reaching all 2700 housing units locally.


Simultaneously CAP worked to help provide livelihood improvements. A heritage walk route was mapped and local citizens were employed to guide tourists to less well known Mughal era buildings and monuments. A bag making team was initiated, producing shoe packs, carry bags, laundry bags, wine holders and newspaper sacks.


To help women in the city a specialized women’s savings fund was initiated. There women had safe access to begin saving and managing their income as well as access to debt management and credit. This helped raise the position of women in many households, liberating personal self-esteem and perceived positioning in society.


CAP has contributed to green growth in the area by empowering local citizens to improve their own lives. Reducing dependence of often inaccessible state services has allowed local citizens to build livelihood opportunities based on local characteristics. Cross sectorial collaboration between government and local community and women’s groups has increased, helping further development programmes succeed. In 2010 CAP was integrated in the citywide Slum Free City Action Plan which has aimed to scale up the programmes initial success.



>> Citywide Slum Upgrading Programme

3. Bishan Ang Mo Kio Park, Singapore

The principles of green growth are strongly represented in the case of Bishan Park, one of Singapore’s most popular public parks. Under the initiative of the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme (ABC Waters Programme); a nationwide movement transforming Singapore’s water bodies beyond practical drainage and water supply functions, into versatile, climate adaptive recreation and community leisure areas, Bishan Park has found a new lease of life.


Formally occupied by a 2.7km drainage ditch Bishan Park presented a physical barrier between surrounding housing estates. The accompanying grasslands were plain with few attractive features. In 2011 this changed with water sensitive design principles set forth by consultancy Atelier Dreiseitl. First the drainage channel was removed, allowing the river to return to its natural meandering course, lengthening the water way to 3.2km. Materials from the deconstruction of the channel were recycled to form gradually sloping banks upon which the areas natural habitat could reestablish itself. The open form of the river channel allows for fluctuating water volumes, accounting for increasing future storm projections. Under normal weather conditions the river banks provide recreational space and access to rockeries and shallow fishing areas for families and children. 62 hectares of surrounding parkland has been redesigned to accommodate the local ecosystem in addition to community leisure spaces, play facilities, restaurants and observation points.


Construction of the park embodied green growth in a number of innovative ways. Firstly the holistic approach and multifunctional design incorporated both technical and social requirements in one process, proving more economically viable than tackling the issues separately. Recycled materials were used as major elements of the redesign and through such a process, local contractors had the opportunity to learn new ‘green’ competences and methods which can be transferred to further local projects.


>> Bishan Park on the National Park

>> Watch a video about the park


4. City Biodiversity Index Singapore

The Singapore City Biodiversity index is present in over 80 cities worldwide. It frames the measurement and assessment of 23 green indicators (native species, green cover, habitat protection) which are communicated amongst city planners, officials, decision makers and citizens. Annual analysis produces an indicator score which is assessed against a benchmark year. The score allows planners to identify areas of biodiversity that need to be supported or improved, helping prioritise conservation and budget allocation.


The index has helped Singapore remain economically attractive to new investments. With adequate green space and biodiversity in urban areas, cities such as Singapore have remained attractive to companies and individuals wishing to live and work in ‘green’ surroundings without sacrificing city life and proximity to urban services. The Index has also acted as a part of wider strategy to incorporate nature into urban infrastructure and has spurred opportunities for companies to fill necessary service gaps.


Lastly the Index has acted as a base for community engagement, with programmes calling for volunteer companies and citizens to carry out biodiversity counts, fuelling ownership and responsibility of the city’s natural areas.


>> Convention for Biological Diversity


More Grow Green cases

IFHP best Grow Green reads


>> Green Growth Knowledge Platform (2014) Green Growth Best Practice Initiative Report

>> Energy and Resources Institute (2015) International Journal of Green Growth and Development

>> World Bank (2012) Inclusive Green Growth Report



>> The Economist (2012) Shoots, Greens and Leaves