Description: Temperatures in urban areas are rising as a result of climate change. In Los Angeles, the Bureau of Street Services conducted a pilot study in 2017 to investigate the …
Parks & Cool Streets
Urban areas especially are subject to heat island effects caused by structures such as buildings, roads, and other infrastructure that absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes such as forests and water bodies. Waste heat from vehicles, factories, and air conditioners may add warmth to their surroundings, further exacerbating the heat island effect. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), many large cities have air temperatures from 2-22°F (1-12°C) higher than their rural surroundings.
Increasing urban tree canopy, green roofs, and vegetation restore some of the natural means of cooling and help reduce urban heat island effects by shading building surfaces, deflecting radiation from the sun, and releasing moisture into the atmosphere. These programs can also reduce the disparity between more well-off neighborhoods with trees and green spaces and poorer neighborhoods with an unrelieved urban landscape of buildings and streets.
Highly reflective pavement coatings and roofing materials can increase urban albedo and thereby reduce the heat absorbed by urban infrastructure and buildings.
Reducing the heat island effect lowers peak electricity demand for cooling buildings, which can help prevent power outages; reduces power plant emissions; and increases urban resilience in response to heat waves.