With a background in landscape engineering, Tanja Hasselmark Mason started as the project leader at the Scandinavian Green Roof Institute in 2018. Back then, it was an initiative that arose from the desire to rethink the city’s layout and spread knowledge about green roofs.
Since then, the partially state-sponsored knowledge center has turned towards spreading knowledge about green and blue solutions for cities. Most recently, Scandinavian Green Roof Institute has increasingly focused on blue solutions.
"In Scandinavian Green Roof Institute, we have a unique opportunity to be the middleman between builders, private companies, and researchers. As consultants, we offer advice on blue-green solutions. It is an advantage to have an expert who can objectively look at the solutions from an outside perspective and who can speak the same language through all the different building phases. It is, thus, possible to create complete and qualitative solutions", says Tanja.
Part of the daily life of the Scandinavian Green Roof Institute is to identify the needs of different parties that are looking to start the innovative process towards incorporating blue-green solutions. This is done, among other things, by arranging workshops, doing courses and going on guided tours. Tanja explains:
"By focusing on the customers’ needs, the right conditions are created to develop the best possible solutions. The advantage of having an expert in blue-green solutions involved throughout the entire project is that it minimizes risk of errors and loss of knowledge throughout the process. In this way, we help to identify the obstacles that prevent you from taking the next step and we create the right incentives to find creative solutions that work for everyone."
In 2017, Blue Green City Lab emerged as a research- and innovation project with the aim of creating an experience model that shows how different parties can collaborate to find qualitative blue-green solutions that work well in practice. As part of the experience model, Blue Green City Lab developed concrete testing methods for a variety of cases, some of which Milford participated in.
"When we started the project with Blue Green City Lab, it was to give different parties a shared incentive to work with blue-green solutions and see how they work in practice. Milford approached us with a specific product (CoreBlue) with a desire to see how it could work and how it could be optimized. Afterwards, we helped assess it. When creating functional solutions, it is important that someone on the outside can objectively highlight the functionality of the product", explains Tanja.
A blue-green solution can have various looks, but they all focus on the challenges in a city’s environment with regard to climate change, rainwater management and ecosystem services.
Tanja explains that in order to create the right conditions for the blue-green solutions to work in the best way possible, it is important to start from the basic function needed. In addition to this, it is also possible to add extra features and thereby extra value.
"There is no simple solution that solves all challenges. The ideal blue-green solution will be able to solve the main challenge, but it is also interesting to explore whether it can create extra value. Can we include more features that, for example, contribute to biodiversity or create something aesthetically pleasing?"
Blue Green City Lab was a pilot project that is now completed. However, due to significant interest, the project has received a new grant, and plans on how it can be resumed are currently being discussed. Tanja explains:
As we begin to see more and more consequences of climate change in our cities, there is an increased interest in blue-green solutions. And as we approach “Agenda 2030”, there is an increased need to find solutions that can be implemented immediately. It is important to underscore that we already have the knowledge it takes and, therefore, it is a matter of using and boosting the solutions we have already found."
Tanja Hasselmark Mason is now working to bring together a reference group, where the focus is on gathering experience and displaying solutions to show that action is being taken.
"We want to eventually create qualitative solutions that are so safe they can be implemented almost immediately and operated afterwards. The goal is to implement it directly on-site and not at a laboratory. We need to get started."
"As we begin to see more and more consequences of climate change in our cities, there is an increased interest in blue-green solutions."