Cities Tackle Urban Heat Island Effect

06/18/2014 |

Mitigation policies grow in response to changing climate

City in the summer

Extreme weather and a need to improve resiliency are driving North American cities to implement urban heat island mitigation strategies, a recent survey reveals.

The 26 U.S. and Canadian cities responding represented a diverse assortment of sizes, geographic locations, and climate zones. Nevertheless, the respondents found common ground on several issues, such as requiring cool technologies for local government buildings (e.g. reflective roofs on municipal buildings or shade trees on city streets), mandating reflective and vegetated roofing for private buildings, and implementing policies to increase tree canopy and manage stormwater.

"Our report finds that by addressing their urban heat islands, cities are more effectively delivering core public health and safety services, making them attractive places to live, work, and play," says Kurt Shickman, executive director of the Global Cool Cities Alliance, which conducted the study with the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

Case studies in the report, “Cool Policies for Cool Cities,” included Houston’s requirement that most flat roofs in the city be reflective in response to a prior study that found its roofs and pavement reaching up to 160 degrees F.

The full report is available at or from the Cool Roofs and Pavements Toolkit.

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