Berlin Environmental Atlas

09.01 Environmental Justice (Edition 2015)

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Evaluation Results Entire City and Boroughs

The evaluation of the data is compiled in a comprehensive mapping, and its core statements are published in the Geoportal in the form of content-specific maps. This entails, on the one hand, the processing of the five-part core indicator set, on the other hand the aggregating multiple-load maps, which are based on it and intersect the various topics quantitatively and qualitatively. The four integrated multiple-load maps form the core of the integrated Berlin environmental justice monitoring.

Core indicators

Core Indicator 1: Noise Load
(Becker; U., Becker, T. 2015)

Noise refers to sound events which are perceived as disturbing and/or burdensome for well-being and health due to their individual character. Noise can be named as a central factor affecting health, especially in the urban environment. Depending on the scope, time and length of exposure, noise immission can result in direct or indirect health effects.

In order to consider the environmental factor "surrounding" noise in detail, a categorisation is required according to its sources, which can essentially be subdivided into the main categories industrial and commercial noise, traffic noise (street traffic noise, rail traffic noise, air traffic noise), sports and leisure noise and noise caused by the neighbourhood (Niemann et al. 2005, EEA 2010). Traffic (street, rail and air traffic) can be counted among the main causes for noise in the urban environment. Thanks to the Strategic Noise Maps Berlin, up-to-date calculations at the level of the entire city are available for the main causes, as of 2012 (SenStadtUm 2013b).

Tab. 1: The most important noise impacts
Physiological impact Psychological impact
loss of hearing
vegetative disorder
heart and/or circulatory problems
cardiovascular symptoms
high blood pressure
reduced quality of sleep
stress, nervousness
communication disorder
reduced output
psychosomatic symptoms
Social impact of noise Economic impact of noise
communication difficulties
judgment of others
reduced willingness to help
social disintegration
rent and estate prices
noise protection costs
health costs
disruption of production
planning costs
Tab. 1: The most important noise impacts (BAFU 2009)

In order to analyse the different load degrees of the Berlin planning areas, a monetary assessment of the noise impact was chosen, and the results were linked to the socio-demographic structure at the level of the planning areas.

The monetisation of noise is based on the principle of external costs, which financially reflects the utility loss caused by noise. The fact that it is not the producers of noise who bear its negative effects, and that these will be deflected to third parties (or society as a whole), is thus taken into account. Moreover, monetising the noise load measured in decibels (logarithmic scale) makes comparisons from a spatial or social perspective much easier and more transparent.

The cost rates used correspond to the current state of the art in science and specify the harm caused per person by the impact of the disturbance and the health risks as a sum. Noise impact from different sources (street, rail and air traffic) was taken into account, depending on their sound characteristics. The noise immissions were determined separately for all different types of noise, so that the costs of the different types of noise can be indicated separately. Thus the amount of external costs determined using the cost rates underscores the dimensions of the traffic noise problem.

In order to classify them into load categories, the PLAs were sorted according to the external noise costs per inhabitant and divided into 10 deciles. In analogy with the socio-spatial classification of the status index from the Social Urban Development Monitoring (SenStadtUm 2013), the two lowest deciles (20 % of the PLAs) are classified as having low noise load. The two deciles with the highest load are attributed to the high category. The six remaining deciles are aggregated analogously. As a result, an evaluation of the entire noise load caused by traffic into three load categories ("high", "medium" and "low") is available for all the inhabited PLAs.

The average noise load per inhabitant provides information on how heavy the load is, independent of the population density of the residential areas. Each Berlin inhabitant is burdened by external costs of an average of nearly 45 € p.a. due to traffic noise. There is a high variation of noise load among the PLAs. In the load category "low", the external costs amount to up to 21 €, while the load category "high" encompasses a range from 40 € up to 103 € per inhabitant.

The spatial distribution of noise load shows a gradual increase from the peripheral city areas towards the city centre. With the exception of the S-Bahn ring, PLAs with a low load are situated in the entire city area, while high and very high loads predominantly occur in the extended city centre, with top values in the impact area of the Berlin-Tegel airport.

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