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Heat Islands

What Communities are Doing to Reduce Heat Islands

Many communities have taken steps to reduce urban heat islands. Voluntary initiatives include demonstration projects, incentive programs, urban forestry efforts, weatherization programs, outreach and education, and awards to recognize and encourage heat island reduction activities. Policy initiatives include procurement, resolutions, tree and landscape ordinances, comprehensive plans and design guidelines, zoning codes, green building standards, building codes, and air quality standards.

EPA maintains a Community Actions Database for heat island activities, searchable by state, initiative, or strategy. In addition, archived information on the five cities that participated in EPA’s Urban Heat Island Pilot Project (UHIPP) is accessible from the UHIPP page.

Portland Eco-Roof
The Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) has a green roof on its headquarters. The city allows denser development for projects that use green roofs, or eco-roofs as the city calls them.. (Photo courtesy of Portland BES)

Chapter Five of EPA's Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies provides additional information, including the following topics:

  • Voluntary efforts, including demonstration projects, incentives, urban forestry programs, weatherization, outreach and education programs, and awards.
  • Policy efforts, including procurement, resolutions, tree and landscape ordinances, comprehensive plans and design guidelines, zoning codes, green building programs and standards, building codes, and air quality requirements.