Special Summer Topic: Cooling your community and reducing the urban heat island effect

Received in an e-mail from U.S. EPA’s State and Local Climate & Energy Program.

Summer in a city can be HOT…much hotter than surrounding areas. That’s because roads and buildings absorb the Sun’s rays, and radiate its heat back at you, a phenomenon known as the heat island effect. The heat island effect can be harmful to your health; high temperatures can make it harder for everyone to breathe, especially children, the elderly, and those who are already sick. Heat islands can also affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing water quality.

It can be a major summertime issue for cities, and many have started making changes to cool their communities by planting more trees, installing cool and green roofs, and making their parking lots and roads cooler.

Read on to learn about heat island resources and how to cool your community, including:

  • Upcoming webcast on Wednesday, August 8, 2012 – Ways to Beat the Heat: Effective Approaches to Heat Island Reduction
  • EPA’s Heat Island Reduction website and other resources
  • Resources from other organizations to help with green building, trees and vegetation, green roofs, cool roofs, and cool pavements.

EPA Resources

EPA’s Heat Island Reduction Program is a comprehensive source of urban heat island resources including webcasts, reports, and newsletters.

Upcoming Webcast – Ways to Beat the Heat: Effective Approaches to Heat Island Reduction
Date: Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Time: 2:00 PM – 4:00 PM EDT

Sponsored by EPA’s Local Government Climate and Energy program and the Heat Island Reduction Program, this webcast covers the benefits and strategies for taking local action to reduce urban heat islands. Cities will share lessons learned on how to design and implement effective programs and policies.

The webcast will start with an overview about the urban heat island effect and EPA’s program by Neelam Patel, Program Manager. Brian Stone, researcher from Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of City and Regional Planning will discuss how recent trends show that city temperatures cities are warming. Brendan Reed from the city of Chula Vista, CA will provide an overview of how shade trees, cool roofs and cool pavements were included in the city’s adaptation plan and the progress on each implementation plan. Matt Grubisich of the Texas Tree Foundation will discuss strategic planting in Dallas and explain the value of partnering with non-profit organizations. Norman Muraya from Austin Energy will share how Austin developed and implemented its roofing program to cool their community. The webcast will conclude with a question and answer session.

Reserve your webcast seat now.

Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies
Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies describes the causes and impacts of summertime urban heat islands and promotes strategies for lowering temperatures in U.S. communities. It provides an overview of heat islands, how they form, and their impacts, and describes key urban heat island reduction strategies in depth. It also describes voluntary and policy efforts undertaken by state and local governments to mitigate urban heat islands. The report is available on the EPA heat island website.

Urban Heat Island Mitigation
Learn more about heat island mitigation strategies including trees and vegetation, green roofs, cool roofs, and cool pavements. Details on strategies and benefits are available on the EPA heat island website.

Learn about Examples of the Urban Heat Island Mitigation
Access information on more than 75 local and statewide initiatives to reduce heat islands and achieve related benefits. Examples available at http://yosemite.epa.gov/gw/heatisland.nsf/webpages/HIRI_Initiatives.html

Urban Heat Island Newsroom
The Newsroom provides current news and links to news releases related to urban heat island impacts, mitigation strategies, and community initiatives. The Newsroom is available on the EPA heat island website.

Heat Island Newsletter
EPA’s Heat Island Newsletter keeps you informed with periodic announcements of funding opportunities, webcasts, publications, and events of interest to the urban heat island community. To sign up for the newsletter, visit the sign-up form.

Heat Island Related Organizations

Organizations outside the EPA also serve as comprehensive urban heat island resources.

Heat Island Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The Heat Island Group features background on the science of heat islands and mitigation strategies, conducts projects including advanced surfaces and cool communities, and lists resources such as guides, presentations, and savings calculators. Learn more on the LBNL’s Heat Island Group’s website.

Global Cool Cities Alliance
The Global Cool Cities Alliance is a non-profit dedicated to advancing policies and actions that increase the solar reflectance of our buildings and pavements as a low cost way to promote cool buildings and cool cities and to mitigate the effects of climate change through global cooling. Learn more on the Global Cool Cities Alliance’s website.

Urban Heat Island Mitigation Tools and Resources

There are multiple ways to cool your community including green roofs and infrastructure and cool roofs and pavements. There are multiple resources and tools to aid with implementation of these strategies.

Green Roofs and Green Infrastructure Resources

Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils, and natural processes to manage stormwater, and can decrease temperatures in the urban environment by deflecting solar radiation, providing shade, and removing heat from the air through evapotranspiration.

Get More Green: An American Rivers Initiative
The rivers and streams advocacy group, American Rivers, has developed a tool to simulate energy, water, and economic savings from a green roof. Discover the savings from greening a roof in your community on the Get More Green website.

U.S. Department of Energy’s New & Underutilized Technology: Green Roofs
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program, under the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office (EERE), has recently updated the “New & Underutilized Technology: Green Roofs” webpage to include information that outlines key deployment considerations for green roofs within the federal sector.Learn more on the EERE website.

EPA Heat Island Webcast Presentations: Green Roofs
Archived webcasts related to green roofs provide information on implementing projects at the local level; benefits to energy, the urban atmosphere, and stormwater management; city case studies; and green roof standards. View the webcast presentations on the EPA heat island website.

EPA Green Infrastructure Website
EPA’s Green Infrastructure Program has unveiled a new website to showcase the agency’s research on green infrastructure and to serve as a gateway to resources developed by government agencies, academia, nonprofits, and the private sector. The website features up-to-date information on green infrastructure publications, tools, and opportunities. For more information, visit the EPA Green Infrastructure website.

Cool Roofs and Pavements Resources

Cool roofs and pavements utilize materials that reflect more solar energy.

Cool Roofs and Pavements Toolkit
The Global Cool Cities Alliance launched a toolkit featuring cool surface and urban heat island information. The toolkit is comprised of A Practical Guide to Cool Roofs and Cool Pavements; a Knowledge Base which serves as a repository for research, program materials, sample documents, presentations, case studies, and codes and standards related to the topic; and a list of other sources of relevant information. Learn more about the Cool Roofs and Cool Pavements Toolkit.

Green Building Resources

GSA’s Sustainable Facilities Tool
This tool from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) helps identify and prioritize cost-effective green building strategies that facilities managers or owners can implement to incorporate sustainable concepts into any remodel or small project. The tool allows users to compare materials and systems, access design guidance, ask questions, and share their knowledge to help others “green” their projects as well. The tool addresses the benefits of heat island strategies such as cool pavements and green roofs. Learn more about the Sustainable Facilities Tool.

Other Reports and Tools Related to Heat

EPA Mitigation Impact Screening Tool (MIST)
The Mitigation Impact Screening Tool (MIST) is a software tool that estimates the impacts of urban heat island mitigation strategies on urban air temperatures, ozone, and energy consumption. Learn more about MIST.

CCAP’s The Value of Green Infrastructure for Urban Climate Adaptation
The Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) released a report which provides information on the costs and benefits of green infrastructure practices, such as green and cool roofs, urban forestry, and cool pavements. The report provides examples of different approaches that have been used as well as the benefits to urban communities, including increased resilience to climate impacts, improvements in land value, quality of life, public health, hazard mitigation, and regulatory compliance. This report is available on CCAP’s website.

CCAP’s Lessons Learned on Local Climate Adaptation from the Urban Leaders Adaptation Initiative
The Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) released a report which summarizes the main findings of CCAP’s Urban Leaders Adaptation Initiative. This partnership with local government leaders served to empower local communities to develop and implement climate resilient strategies, including heat island mitigation measures. The report concludes that effective approaches include comprehensive planning, using “no-regrets” strategies, and “mainstreaming” adaptation efforts into existing policies. Lessons Learned on Local Climate Adaptation from the Urban Leaders Adaptation Initiative is available on CCAP’s website.

NRDC’s Extreme Weather Mapping Tool
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has developed an interactive extreme weather mapping tool to allow Americans to draw connections between climate change and extreme weather in their communities. The map and supplementary data tables provide information on extreme weather events in each state, including record-breaking temperatures. The Extreme Weather Map is available on NRDC’s website.

Georgetown Climate Center Adaptation Clearinghouse
The Georgetown Climate Center, a nonprofit organization based at Georgetown Law in Washington, DC, has launched the Adaptation Clearinghouse, an online database and networking tool to assist state and local policymakers, resource managers, and others who are working to help communities adapt to climate change. The clearinghouse contains resources on urban heat island impacts and mitigation options. Visit the Adaptation Clearinghouse.

NRDC’s “Killer Summer Heat”
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has released a report on heat-related death toll projections through the end of the 21st century in the most populated U.S. cities. According to the report, more than 150,000 additional Americans could die by the end of this century due to excessive heat caused by climate change. City dwellers are at particular risk because of elevated temperatures in cities brought about by the heat island effect. The report, “Killer Summer Heat,” is available on the NRDC website.

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