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Heat Island Effect

Related Links

Note that additional links to urban heat island activities at the community and state levels can be found in the Where You Live section.


Basic Information

EPA Sites

Climate Change
EPA provides comprehensive information on the science of climate change, data on greenhouse gas emissions, projected health and environmental effects, U.S. climate policy, economic issues, and actions to reduce emissions.

State and Local Climate and Energy Program
This EPA program helps state and local governments with their clean energy efforts by providing technical assistance, analytical tools, and outreach support.

Other Federal Sites

EPA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Air Quality Meteorology Developmental CourseExit EPA Disclaimer
Designed for environmental decision-makers, scientists, technical advisors, and educators, this online course provides the meteorology and air quality background needed to understand meteorological computer models. The site also contains information on understanding and using a computational science approach to studying complex environmental phenomena.

NOAA National Climatic Data Center
The National Climatic Data Center is the largest weather data archive in the world. This site allows users to link to searchable databases offering climate and weather data, including national, state, and local surface temperature information.

United States Geological Survey (USGS) Geography Information
This site provides access to the USGS National Map Viewer, which allows the user to observe global, national, and local level land-use and land-cover information, as well as other geospatial data.

Non-Federal Sites

International Association for Urban Climate (IAUC)Exit EPA Disclaimer
This organization is composed of members with interests and responsibilities in urban climatology, urban meteorology, urban air quality, and the interactions between urban atmospheres and the built-up surface beneath. The IAUC site offers newsletters, listservs, tutorials, and other resources on urban climate.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)Exit EPA Disclaimer
NCAR was established to engage in research on atmospheric science problems—including climate change, changes in atmospheric composition, and weather formation and forecasting—and their impact on human populations.

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Measuring Heat Islands

Federal Sites

Landsat Program
The Landsat program is a series of Earth-observing satellite missions jointly managed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Geological Survey. These satellites are used to acquire remotely sensed images of the earth's land surface and surrounding coastal regions, and provide information from which researchers can derive surface temperatures and evaluate urban heat islands.

National Weather Service
The National Weather Service is a source for air temperature measurements, climate and weather models, and past and future climate predictions, as well as information on extreme weather and weather safety.

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Heat Island Impacts

EPA Sites

Air Quality Index
This site presents communities with local air quality information, as well as suggestions on what individuals can do to reduce air pollution. It also provides air quality forecasts and publications on major pollutants.

Other Federal Sites

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
The CDC offers information on excessive heat, preventing heat-related illness, guidance on heat stress in the elderly, and other health-related advice.

  • Climate Change and Extreme Heat Events (PDF) (20 pp, 3.3MB), published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, describes extreme heat events, how they affect public health, and how to prepare for and respond to extreme heat events. It also explains how the frequency, duration, and severity of extreme heat events are increasing as a result of climate change, and includes links to local program and real-world examples from across the country.

National Weather Service, Heat Index
The National Weather Service's Heat Index can be used to alert citizens to heat-related health risks based on a combination of temperature and humidity levels. The site also has links to excessive heat outlooks, fatality statistics, historic data on major heat waves, drought information, and advice on how to minimize the health risks of heat waves.

Non-Federal Sites

American Lung AssociationExit EPA Disclaimer
This site provides information on the effects that both outdoor and indoor air quality can have on lung function. Also included is information on pollution sources, tips for avoiding exposure, and recommendations on how individuals can prevent pollution.

The American Red CrossExit EPA Disclaimer
This disaster relief organization provides information on what to do in the event of a heat wave, physiological indicators of heat-related illness and emergencies, and strategies for treatment. The information is also available in Spanish.

Synoptic Climatology LaboratoryExit EPA Disclaimer
This University of Miami laboratory performs research on a variety of applied climatological issues that affect human health. Practitioners of Synoptic Climatology advocate a holistic approach to weather and climate and attempt to characterize the effects of entire weather regimes. Information on Heat-Health Watch Warning Systems is also provided here.

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Heat Island Mitigation

Federal Sites

Department of Energy (DOE) Building Technologies Program
The Office of Building Technology, State and Community Programs hosts this web site, which includes information about energy and buildings for homeowners, commercial building owners and operators, building designers, researchers, and public officials.

DOE Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) Heat Island Group
This site contains general information on the urban heat island effect and mitigation strategies, results of LBNL's heat island and cool roof research, a database comparing various roofing materials, and links to other sites.

Non-Federal Sites

Arizona State University National Center of ExcellenceExit EPA Disclaimer
The National Center of Excellence on Sustainable Materials and Renewable Technologies (SMART) Innovations for Urban Climate and Energy facilitates collaborations with industry and various governments to research and develop technologies to mitigate urban heat islands, especially in desert climates, and with an emphasis on pavement technologies.

Green GlobesExit EPA Disclaimer
The Green Globes rating system is an environmental building design and management tool. The site provides an online assessment protocol; rating system; and guidance for green building design, operation, and management. Green Globes provides resources on several types of urban heat island mitigation technologies, including green and cool roofs.

PositivEnergyExit EPA Disclaimer
This site focuses on community energy conservation and contains links to a number of heat island mitigation projects. It emphasizes actions taking place in California.

U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)Exit EPA Disclaimer
The USGBC's mission is to accelerate the adoption of green building practices, technologies, policies, and standards. USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system includes credits for general heat island mitigation activities (such as shade-tree planting) as well as for installation of green and cool roofs. The USGBC site provides publications and research on green building design, including cost and energy benefit analyses of employing green building technologies. USGBC also provides green building toolkits for government agencies and schools.

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Trees and Vegetation

EPA Sites

Green Landscaping: Green Acres
EPA’s Natural Landscaping Workgroup in Chicago created this site to provide information on green landscaping in the Great Lakes region. It describes how to get started with native planting, discusses the benefits of green landscaping, and provides case studies.

Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure
Green infrastructure is a cost-effective and environmentally friendly approach to wet-weather management. The site describes green infrastructure design options, including planting trees and other vegetation, to reduce stormwater runoff and water pollution.

SunWise Program
The SunWise program is an environmental and health education program that aims to teach people how to protect themselves from overexposure to the sun. SunWise promotes a variety of actions people can take to reduce exposure to harmful UV radiation; seeking shade is just one of them. 

Other Federal Sites

i-TreeExit EPA Disclaimer
Developed by the USDA Forest Service, the i-Tree software suite is available free of charge on CD-ROM by request. The software uses data gathered by the community to provide an understanding of urban forest structure, information on management concerns, cost-benefit information, and storm damage assessment. The software allows for analyses of a single street tree, a neighborhood, or an entire urban forest.

Urban Forest Effects Model (UFORE)
UFORE is a USDA Forest Service tool that uses tree inventory data to model and quantify urban forest structure (e.g., species composition, tree density, tree health, leaf area, leaf and tree biomass, species diversity), environmental effects, and value to communities.

Urban Natural Resources Institute (UNRI)Exit EPA Disclaimer
UNRI, an initiative of the USDA Forest Service Northern Station, serves as a science-based source for information and answers to questions on urban forestry science and management. The site provides monthly webcasts, newsletters, and other resources.

USDA Forest Service, Home Page
Established in 1905, the USDA Forest Service manages public lands in national forests and grasslands and also has an urban and community forest program. The USDA Forest Service has many resources on trees and vegetation, including tools, publications, regional programs, and research, some of which are listed above and below in this section.

USDA Forest Service Publications
This site provides publications on urban forestry, covering topics such as air quality and greenhouse gases, energy conservation, and water quality.

USDA Forest Service Urban Forestry Carbon Storage and Sequestration Spreadsheets
The USDA Forest Service has developed spreadsheets to estimate the carbon storage and sequestration rates for sugar maple and white pine. These spreadsheets provide a rough approximation of tree carbon storage and sequestration rates based on user inputs of tree growth rates. 

USDA Forest Service National Urban and Community Forest Program
This program helps state forestry agencies, local and tribal governments, and the private sector manage trees and forests in urban communities. The program's goals are to build awareness of the need for urban forestry; reach out to underserved communities; create partnerships between business, government and nonprofit organizations; and manage urban forests in a sustainable manner. Regional affiliates such as Urban Forestry SouthExit EPA Disclaimeralso carry out these goals.

USDA PLANTS Database
This site provides a database of information about U.S. plants, with an advanced search capability by name; location; and environmental variables, such as soil type, fire tolerance, and flower color.

USDA Pacific Southwest Research Station Center for Urban Forest Research
This site includes urban forest guidelines for California, a comprehensive study of the Sacramento urban forest, air quality and energy reduction benefits of urban forests, and evaluations of parking lot shade tree ordinances.

Non-Federal Sites

American ForestsExit EPA Disclaimer
This site offers information about the benefits of trees and tree planting, a regional tree guide for developing appropriate planting strategies, and American Forest's CITYGreenExit EPA Disclaimersoftware for calculating the economic benefits of trees in urban settings.

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA)Exit EPA Disclaimer
This professional association for landscape architects hosts a website that includes a search tool to locate ASLA firms. ASLA is developing a sustainability rating system for landscaped sites, comparable to the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard for buildings, as well as regional guides to best practices.

Arbor Day FoundationExit EPA Disclaimer
The Arbor Day Foundation provides information about local tree planting programs and events, along with resources for environmental educators and parents. The Tree Guide Advanced SearchExit EPA Disclaimer houses a database of trees that can be searched by variables such as sun exposure, hardiness zone, tree shape, and height.

Cornell University, Recommended Urban TreesExit EPA Disclaimer
Cornell University’s Urban Horticulture Institute provides a description of recommended urban trees for U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 1-6, listed by tree size and planting conditions. 

International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) Guidelines for Developing and Evaluating Tree OrdinancesExit EPA Disclaimer
This site provides a variety of tools and resources for citizens and local governments interested in developing, revising, or evaluating local tree ordinances.

ISA Tree SelectionExit EPA Disclaimer
This site provides an overview of variables to consider, including tree function, form, size, and site conditions, when selecting trees for planting.

National Alliance for Community Trees (ACT)Exit EPA Disclaimer
ACT is a nonprofit organization that promotes urban and community forestry through citizen action. The site provides access to more than 50 local urban forestry efforts. ACT publishes a free electronic newsletter called NeighborWoods Network Update.

Selectree DatabaseExit EPA Disclaimer
This database provides a tree species index compiled by the Urban Forest Ecosystems Institute at California Polytechnic State University. Users can search for trees that meet specific criteria, such as exposure, salinity tolerance, soil moisture, and longevity. The database has an emphasis on southern California cities.

Sustainable Urban Landscape Information SeriesExit EPA Disclaimer
This University of Minnesota series covers urban landscape design, plant selection, installation, and maintenance.

TreePeople's Natural Urban Systems Group (NUSG)Exit EPA Disclaimer 
Created by a coalition of government agencies and environmentalists, this group offers an integrated approach to resolving issues of drought, flooding, air and water pollution, landfill closures, high energy costs, youth unemployment, and urban blight. The site discusses how tree planting can address many of Los Angeles's environmental and social problems.

TreeLinkExit EPA Disclaimer
TreeLink provides a Resource Center that contains information on urban forestry, with an emphasis on tree care, maintenance, and management. The site uses forums, educational materials, and links to other urban forestry organizations to educate visitors about urban forestry.

Tree Benefit EstimatorExit EPA Disclaimer
This application, developed by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), presents a web-based method for estimating the amount of energy savings (KWh saved), capacity savings (KW saved) and carbon and CO2 sequestration (lbs) that result from planting mature trees in urban and suburban settings.

Urban Forestry IndexExit EPA Disclaimer
The Urban Forestry Index is a database of current and historic urban forestry and arboriculture publications and other media compiled by the USDA Forest Service, the University of Minnesota, and TreeLink, with the goal of increasing access to urban forestry material and preventing duplication of products.

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Green Roofs

EPA Sites

Green Roofs for Stormwater Runoff Control
This site provides a case study in which EPA is cooperating with Penn State University in testing green roof technologies. In this project, risk management researchers are evaluating performance data that could be used to enhance municipal stormwater management planning.

Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure
EPA's Office of Water highlights design options, including green roofs, to reduce stormwater runoff and water pollution.

Other Federal Sites

General Services Administration (GSA) Green Roofs Site
GSA maintains more than 1.4 million square feet of green roofs. This site provides links to GSA reports on green roof cost-benefit analysis, best practices, research needs, and more.

Non-Federal Sites

Greenroofs.comExit EPA Disclaimer
This commercial site provides information on green roof design, from intensive to extensive applications. It also contains case studies, a list of product suppliers, and an International Green Roofs Projects Database.Exit EPA Disclaimer

Green Roofs for Healthy CitiesExit EPA Disclaimer
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities is a non-profit coalition of private sector firms founded in 1999. Its site contains recent research, information on green roof demonstration projects, and additional resources. The organization organizes the annual Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities conference, an international forum on green roof design, policy, research, and networking.

International Green Roof Association (IGRA)Exit EPA Disclaimer
IGRA is a global network for the promotion and dissemination of information on green roof topics and green roof technology. It facilitates the sharing knowledge and experiences in the field of green roof technology and supports local green roof campaigns.

Pennsylvania State University Center for Green Roof ResearchExit EPA Disclaimer
The Center for Green Roof Research gathers data on the efficacy and potential of green roofs to mitigate stormwater runoff, capture energy savings, and buffer acid rain. The site highlights current research projects at Pennsylvania State University and provides a comprehensive list of links to related organizations and businesses.

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Cool Roofs

Federal Sites

Department of Energy (DOE) Cool Roof Calculator
This calculator estimates cooling and heating savings for flat roofs with non-black surfaces. This version of the calculator is for small and medium-sized facilities that purchase electricity without a demand charge based on peak monthly load.

DOE Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Heat Island Group: Cool Roofing Database
This database displays research results on the solar reflectance and thermal emittances of various roofing products, allowing comparison between cool roofing materials and traditional options.

DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Building Technologies Research and Integration Center
The ORNL Building Technologies Research and Integration Center is devoted to developing technologies that improve the energy efficiency and environmental compatibility of residential and commercial buildings. This site contains research information on both the building envelope and its constituent materials. Fact sheets and other publications also are available.

ENERGY STAR
ENERGY STAR is a voluntary labeling program jointly sponsored by EPA and the Department of Energy. The site identifies and promotes a wide range of energy-efficient strategies and products, including cool roof products.

ENERGY STAR Roofing Comparison CalculatorExit EPA Disclaimer
This online tool allows users to estimate the energy and money that can be saved by using ENERGY STAR roofing products on air-conditioned buildings of at least 3,000 square feet (280 square meters).  The calculator estimates savings of typical building types with non-metallic-surfaced roofs under typical weather conditions.

Non-Federal Sites

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)Exit EPA Disclaimer
ASHRAE is an international membership organization of engineers that has developed energy-efficient design standards that provide minimum requirements for both commercial and residential buildings; the standards include credits pertaining to cool roofing. 

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) InternationalExit EPA Disclaimer
ASTM International is a nonprofit organization that provides a forum for the development and publication of voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems, and services. To evaluate how "cool" a specific roofing product is, ASTM International has validated test methods to measure solar reflectance and thermal emittance.

California Cool Roofs InformationExit EPA Disclaimer
This site, affiliated with the California Energy Commission (CEC), contains information on the benefits and types of cool roofs, cool roof projects, and related resources.

Cool Colors Project
Cool Colors, funded by the CEC, is a research collaboration between the CEC, DOE Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, DOE Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and industry partners. The project seeks to create more cool roofing products for the sloped roof, or residential, market.  

Cool Metal Roofing CoalitionExit EPA Disclaimer
The Coalition educates architects, building owners, specifiers, code and standards officials, and other stakeholders about the sustainable, energy-related benefits of cool metal roofing. 

Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC)Exit EPA Disclaimer
Created in 1998 as a nonprofit, educational organization, CRRC's members include manufacturers, utilities, researchers, and consultants. CRRC maintains a product rating program and associated product directory. 

Florida Solar Energy CenterExit EPA Disclaimer
Administered by the University of Central Florida, the Center serves as Florida's renewable energy and energy efficiency research, training, testing, and certification center. The Center's site posts studies on cool and green roofs.

Global Cool Cities AllianceExit EPA Disclaimer
This non-profit organization’s mission is to advance urban heat island mitigation policies and programs to promote more efficient and comfortable buildings, healthier and more resilient cities, and to cancel some of the warming effects of climate change through global cooling. Among other initiatives, the Alliance has published a Cool Roofs and Cool Pavements Toolkit.Exit EPA Disclaimer

National Roofing Contractors AssociationExit EPA Disclaimer
This trade association includes roofing, roof deck, and waterproofing contractors and industry-related associate members. It provides technical and safety information, news, and calendars of industry events.

Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA)Exit EPA Disclaimer
RCMA is a national trade association representing the manufacturers of cold-applied coatings and cements for roofing and waterproofing. It promotes the availability and adoption of energy-efficient materials.

Roof Consultants Institute (RCI)Exit EPA Disclaimer
This international, nonprofit association includes professional roof consultants, architects, and engineers. It hosts trade conventions and develops standards for professional qualifications.

Single Ply Roofing Industry (SPRI)Exit EPA Disclaimer
SPRI is a trade organization representing sheet membrane and component suppliers to the commercial roofing industry. It provides information about and forums to discuss industry practices, workforce training, and other concerns.

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Cool Pavements

Other Federal Sites

Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Heat Island Group: Cool Pavements
The Heat Island Group provides information about cool paving and other heat island mitigation measures. The Cool Pavements section of the site describes benefits of this technology; published reports on cool pavements are included under Recent Publications.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Pavement Technologies
The Office of Pavement Technologies provides resources and publications, technical guidance, workshops and training, and other related information on asphalt, concrete, and other paving technologies.

FHWA Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty
The Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty site provides comprehensive information on transportation planning and the environment.

FHWA Stormwater Best Management Practices
This site includes information on porous pavements as a best management practice for addressing stormwater.

Non-Federal Sites

Arizona State University National Center of ExcellenceExit EPA Disclaimer
The National Center of Excellence on Sustainable Materials and Renewable Technologies (SMART) Innovations for Urban Climate and Energy facilitates collaborations with industry and various governments to research and develop technologies to mitigate urban heat islands, especially in desert climates, and with an emphasis on pavement technologies.

American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA) Exit EPA Disclaimer
ACPA is a national association that represents concrete pavement contractors, cement companies, equipment and material manufacturers, and suppliers. This site contains research on portland cement concrete pavements and provides information about related technical and policy issues.

Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (AMPO)Exit EPA Disclaimer
AMPO is a nonprofit, membership organization established in 1994 to serve the needs and interests of metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) nationwide. The site provides information for local MPOs and discussions of the environmental and other issues faced by MPOs.

The Center for Environmental ExcellenceExit EPA Disclaimer
This site, hosted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) was developed in cooperation with the Federal Highway Administration to promote environmental stewardship and to encourage innovative ways to streamline the transportation delivery process.

Global Cool Cities AllianceExit EPA Disclaimer
This non-profit organization’s mission is to advance urban heat island mitigation policies and programs to promote more efficient and comfortable buildings, healthier and more resilient cities, and to cancel some of the warming effects of climate change through global cooling. Among other initiatives, the Alliance has published a Cool Roofs and Cool Pavements Toolkit.Exit EPA Disclaimer

International Stormwater Best Management Practices DatabaseExit EPA Disclaimer
This database was developed by the Urban Water Resources Research Council of the American Society of Civil Engineers under a cooperative agreement with EPA. The database provides access to best management practice performance data in a standardized format for over 190 best management practices.

Low Impact Development Center's Low Impact Development Urban Design ToolsExit EPA Disclaimer
The Low Impact Development Center, Inc. is a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, development, and training for water resource and natural resource protection issues. This site provides information on stormwater management techniques, including the use of permeable paving materials.

National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA)Exit EPA Disclaimer
NAPA is a trade association that represents Hot Mix Asphalt producers and paving contractors. This site contains information regarding asphalt production, use, recycling, and other considerations.

Nonpoint Education for Municipal Officials Project (NEMO)Exit EPA Disclaimer
NEMO is an educational program for local officials that addresses the relationship between land use and natural resource protection. The web site provides information about how heat island mitigation strategies such as permeable paving and planting trees can improve local water quality.

Portland Cement Association (PCA)Exit EPA Disclaimer
Founded in 1916, PCA represents cement companies in the United States and Canada. It conducts market development, engineering, research, education, and public affairs programs. This website provides general information about concrete pavements. 

Transportation Research Board (TRB)Exit EPA Disclaimer
TRB is one of the divisions of the National Research Council— a private, nonprofit institution that is the principal operating agency of the National Academies in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. TRB conducts research on transportation and paving technologies, including exploring the benefits of cool pavements.

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