Heat Island Newsroom
Welcome to EPA's Heat Island Newsroom, which includes recent issues of the Heat Island Newsletter and other notable news items. To receive the newsletter and notices of heat island-related conferences by email, sign up for EPA's Heat Island Newsletter.
🔒 Some journals have restricted access. If you are unable to gain access through your local or organizational library, please contact the Heat Island Reduction Program.
April 19, 2023 Newsletter
National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) National Meeting
From April 25 to 27, 2023, the second virtual NIHHIS National Meeting will bring together stakeholders to discuss engaging communities and developing a shared vision for national heat resilience. The three themes of this year’s meeting are (1) intersections in heat and health, (2) highlighting science, innovation, and research, and (3) state, local, and territorial policies and practices in heat planning. On April 26, EPA senior leadership will deliver keynote remarks, two winners of EPA's Let's Talk about Heat Challenge will be featured, and the Heat Island Reduction Program will moderate a session on heat islands.
Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Grants at EPA
Under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, EPA received billions of dollars for grants that are designed to help cut climate pollution, create cleaner air, advance environmental justice, create jobs, and save families money on their energy bills. Stay tuned to EPA’s Heat Island Reduction Program newsletter, State and Local Climate and Energy Program newsletter, and Environmental Justice listserv for updates!
Environmental and Climate Justice Program Grants
The Environmental and Climate Justice Program will advance environmental justice and support projects like community-led air pollution monitoring, prevention, and remediation; mitigating climate and health risks from heat islands, extreme heat, and wildfires; climate resiliency and adaptation; and reducing indoor air pollution. For more details, watch a recording of an informational webinar held on March 10, 2023.
Climate Pollution Reduction Grants (CPRG) Program
The CPRG program will provide grants to states, local governments, tribes, and territories to develop and implement plans for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other harmful air pollution. Phase 1 Planning Grants are for the development, updating, or evaluation of state, local, tribal, or territorial plans to reduce climate pollution. Metro area lead organizations must submit the Notice of Intent to Participate by April 28, 2023. Find program guidance, webinar materials, and technical resources on the CPRG website. Phase 2 Implementation Grants will be announced later in the year.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Urban and Community Forestry Grants
The Urban and Community Forestry Grants will increase equitable access to trees and green spaces in urban and community forests, broaden community engagement in urban forest planning, and improve community resilience to climate change. The funding can be used for reducing extreme heat impacts. Applications will be accepted until June 1, 2023. Find eligibility requirements, the full Notice of Funding Opportunity, and webinar materials on the Urban Forests webpage.
Heat Islands News and Resources
General Heat Islands
Miami-Dade County, Florida, Releases New Extreme Heat Action Plan
In December, Miami-Dade County released its first extreme heat action plan, which seeks to reduce the effects of extreme heat and heat islands through education; improve personal cooling options; and increase blue, gray, and green infrastructure. The plan calls for the creation of a county-wide tree plan, expanding access to water features and shade structures, and piloting cool pavement projects. The county has begun retrofitting housing units with efficient air conditioning and seeks to expand tree canopy cover from 20% today to a goal of 30% by 2030.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report Hones in on Heat
The recently issued Synthesis Report of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) includes a detailed 36-page Summary for Policymakers, which reinforces past assessments’ findings on extreme heat and heat islands. The findings highlight strengthened evidence that heat waves are attributable to human influence, that heat waves will become more frequent, and that increases in heat-related deaths and illnesses will likely occur. Profiled solutions include ecosystems-based approaches such as green infrastructure to reduce urban heat, as well as the creation of heat health action plans including early heat warning and response systems.
New Round of Mapping Campaigns will Investigate Heat Inequities in 14 States
This summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and citizen scientists will map the hottest parts of 18 communities in 14 states across the country and in one international city. Since 2017, NOAA has worked with more than 70 communities to create heat island maps to help local decision-makers take actions to reduce the health impacts of extreme heat, which often target the most vulnerable. To keep up with the summer 2023 campaigns, subscribe to the Heat Beat Newsletter, check out the NIHHIS website, and follow #UrbanHeatMaps2023 on social media.
San Antonio, Texas, Uses New Green Initiative Fund for Cool Pavement Pilot
San Antonio has designated $1 million to install cool pavement sections in all 10 City Council districts. The pavement will be installed in neighborhoods selected through an ongoing equity study the city is conducting with University of Texas – San Antonio scientists. For the pilot, the city will test five different coatings and assess which most efficiently reduces surrounding air temperatures. The pilot is paid for by the city’s new Resiliency, Energy Efficiency, and Sustainability fund, which comes from a portion of funds the city receives from its energy utility and will be used for green initiatives.
Charleston County, South Carolina, Adds Titanium Dioxide to Road Treatment to Reduce Temperatures
Charleston County is adding titanium dioxide to its spray-on road treatment to tackle air pollution and the heat island effect following the success of two pilot programs. Titanium dioxide increases reflectivity of the pavement to reduce heat absorption and surface temperatures. The county’s latest road plan calls for treating 31 roads in North Charleston and on the Charleston peninsula.
Trees and Vegetation
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Releases New Urban Forest Plan
Philadelphia recently released the Philly Tree Plan, the city’s first-ever urban forest strategic plan. The plan was created with the input of over 9,000 residents and sets a 10-year strategy to protect the existing and future urban forest, grow the urban forest equitably across the city, and reduce the maintenance burden of trees on residents. By strengthening tree planting requirements for development, increasing on-site planting requirements, prioritizing large-scale street tree plantings, and establishing a 30% canopy cover goal for every neighborhood, the plan aims to reduce exposure to heat and heat-related deaths.
- Residential and Race/Ethnicity Disparities in Heat Vulnerability in the United States (Manware et la., 2022)🔒
- Transforming U.S. Urban Green Infrastructure Planning to Address Equity (Grabowski et al., 2022)
- Urban Extreme Heat, Climate Change, and Saving Lives: Lessons from Washington State (Kearl and Vogel, 2023)
- Exploring Spatiotemporal Changes of the Urban Heat Island Effect in High-latitude Cities at a Neighbourhood Level: A Case of Edmonton, Canada (Welegedara et al., 2023) 🔒
- Cooling Cities Through Urban Green Infrastructure: A Health Impact Assessment of European Cities (Iungman et al., 2023)🔒
October 06, 2022 Newsletter
Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Will Create Opportunities to Reduce Heat Islands
In August, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 – the most aggressive action to tackle the climate crisis in U.S. history. This law will cut climate pollution, create cleaner air, advance environmental justice, create jobs, and save families money on their energy bills. IRA will provide billions of dollars in grants such as environmental and climate justice grants from EPA and neighborhood access and equity grants from the Federal Highway Administration. Grants could support a range of projects that reduce climate change impacts and related health risks from heat islands and extreme heat. This Heat Island Reduction Program newsletter and EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program newsletter will share updates and opportunities as they become available and will let you know how the EPA’s IRA programs can help your jurisdiction.
EPA Launches New Climate Change and Human Health Webpage
A new EPA webpage features how exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity to hazards influence climate change vulnerability and health outcomes. The page provides examples of actions that can help protect people’s health from climate change impacts, including planting trees to help cool cities.
Heat.gov – New One-Stop Shop for Extreme Heat Information
In July, several federal agencies partnered to release Heat.gov, a new website that provides a wealth of helpful information on extreme heat. The website compiles maps, data, tools, and information from across federal agencies, such as heat forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Health and Human Service’s new Climate and Health Outlook, and resources on heat islands.
Overlooked and Overburdened Webinar Series
The National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) recently announced a webinar series focused on groups that are disproportionately at risk of heat illness or death. The webinars will cover 12 populations, the underlying reasons for their heightened heat risk, and solutions to minimize disproportionate impacts. The webinars will be announced on Heat.gov.
Heat Islands News and Resources
General Heat Islands
New Heat Action Platform for Reducing Impacts of Extreme Heat
The Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation, the Extreme Heat Resilience Alliance, the United Nations Environment Programme, and other collaborators released a new Heat Action Platform designed to support practitioners, policymakers, and development finance institutions in adapting to extreme heat. The platform outlines processes to assess heat risk, create a heat adaptation plan, and implement and evaluate solutions. Another feature is a policy tool that identifies potential interventions based on indicators, such as climate, density of development, policy lever, sector, and more.
New York State Releases First Recommendations from Extreme Heat Work Group
In July, New York State released interim recommendations to address acute cooling needs while the interagency workgroup develops longer-term coordinated efforts. Near-term actions include convening a heat emergency coordination team, expanding availability of cooling centers, extending access to state parks and swimming areas, and improving the extreme heat alert system. The recommendations, which were drafted with input from heat-vulnerable population groups, focus on communities disproportionately impacted by climate change and extreme heat. The final extreme heat action plan will identify state actions to address the structural drivers of inequitable extreme heat exposure.
EPA’s Heat Island Reduction Program Featured on Weather Geeks Podcast
Weather Geeks is a podcast hosted by Dr. Marshall Shepard, renowned meteorologist and professor at the University of Georgia. The July 27th episode focused on reducing the heat island effect and featured Victoria Ludwig of the EPA Heat Island Reduction Program. She discussed what heat islands are, why EPA is concerned, and how we can reduce them.
Virtual City Shows Impacts of Extreme Heat on Infrastructure
The Washington Post created a virtual city to demonstrate the damaging effects of unprecedented heat on transportation infrastructure, the power grid, and harm to the local ecosystem. In the project, fictitious residents undertake a variety of cooling strategies, including the use of cool pavements and materials.
Heat Mapping in New York, New York for Environmental Justice
Researchers from the Columbia Climate School overlaid data from the NIHHIS heat mapping initiative with multiple indicators to connect social inequities and health outcomes to heat. The maps demonstrate how historically redlined areas, such as Northern Manhattan and the South Bronx, are hotter than more affluent areas and have fewer green spaces. Researchers note that residents in these lower-income communities also experience more asthma emergency department visits, which can be exacerbated by extreme heat. These residents are less likely to have access to adaptive measures to extreme temperatures (e.g., air conditioning, health care, indoor work).
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Releases Cool Roofs Guide
A new Climate Resilience Implementation Guide from HUD shows communities how to develop and implement a cool roof project or program to build resilience to rising temperatures and extreme heat. The guide also provides suggestions on how communities can effectively use HUD funds to develop their projects. Additional guides in the series will cover resilience education and outreach activities, single-family retrofits, resilient public facilities, nature-based solutions, and community driven relocation.
Raleigh, North Carolina Allocates $70,000 to Cool Pavement Project
A recent study showed that areas of Raleigh with higher use of pavement or concrete could be up to 10°F warmer than other areas. To help combat this issue, Raleigh is allocating $70,000 to treat 157,442 square yards of pavement with titanium dioxide, which reflects the sun’s rays and lessens the extent to which materials absorb heat.
Carnegie Mellon University Releases New Smart Surfaces Guidebook
Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Building Performance and Diagnostics and the Smart Surfaces Coalition developed a Smart Surfaces Guidebook for city policymakers to use as a decision-making guide. The Guidebook contains a smart surfaces taxonomy, which explores roof, street, sidewalk, and parking lot surfaces and quantifies their benefits (e.g., reflectivity, permeability). In addition, the Guidebook includes investment scenarios and case studies.
Trees and Vegetation
Las Vegas, Nevada Tree Initiative to Plant 60,000 Trees to Combat Extreme Heat
Las Vegas is significantly warmer than nearby rural areas, with temperatures up to 24°F higher. To combat intense heat, the City of Las Vegas Tree Initiative is planning to plant 60,000 trees by 2050 as part of a heat reduction and urban resilience strategy. The city is carefully selecting tree varieties that are resilient to increasing heat and water shortages.
Ann Arbor, Michigan Updates its Urban Forest Plan, Develops 10,000 Tree Initiative
Ann Arbor, Michigan has more than 100,000 trees in its parks and streets, which bring an estimated $4.6 million in benefits each year. This year, the city is updating its Urban & Community Forest Management Plan by working with local organizations and tree experts. To help meet the goals of the plan, the city is undertaking an initiative to plant 10,000 trees on public and private property by 2030.
Maryland and Michigan Initiate Campaigns to Increase Urban Trees
The states of Maryland and Michigan are creating plans to increase urban and native forests by 2030. The Maryland Board of Public Works approved a $10 million grant for its Urban Trees Program, which aims to plant five million native trees, with a focus on underserved areas. The state of Michigan launched the “Mi Trees” campaign, which encourages citizens to plant trees in their own space and report them on an interactive map. Mi Trees aims to plant 50 million trees by 2030. Increasing tree canopies and ensuring urban forest resilience helps to lessen impacts of climate change, including increasing heat.
- How are cities planning for heat? Analysis of United States municipal plans (Turner et al., 2022)
- Valuing the public benefits of green roofs (Netusil et al., 2022)
- Benefits of increasing greenness on all-cause mortality in the largest metropolitan areas of the United States within the past two decades (Brochu et al., 2022)
- Community-engaged heat resilience planning: Lessons from a youth smart city science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program (Lim et al., 2022)
- A mechanistic assessment of urban heat island intensities and drivers across climates (Zhang et al., 2022)
June 10, 2022 Newsletter
EPA Launches EJScreen 2.0!
In February, EPA released an updated and redesigned EJScreen, the Agency's publicly available, award-winning environmental justice (EJ) screening and mapping tool. This version expands insights into EJ community concerns, using new data on environmental burdens, socioeconomic factors, climate change, health, and critical service gaps.
White House Releases the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool
The White House Council on Environmental Quality released a beta version of a new Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool to help federal agencies identify disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. The tool provides socioeconomic, environmental, and climate information to inform decisions that may affect these communities. It identifies disadvantaged communities through publicly available, nationally consistent datasets.
Heat Islands News and Resources
General Heat Islands
American Planning Association Report Addresses Urban Heat Resilience
The newly published Planning for Urban Heat Resilience report provides planners with a framework for incorporating heat resilience into their work and for reducing urban heat in their cities. It provides guidance on setting urban heat goals, developing heat management strategies, coordinating across planning efforts, and ensuring inclusive participation in the planning process.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report Emphasizes Extreme Heat, Heat Islands
The most recent IPCC Assessment Report underscores the impact of climate change on heat islands and extreme heat events, and emphasizes the importance of taking actions to cool urban environments. The report finds urban expansion and destruction of green space can increase local heat islands, with up to 3.6°F of warming. It reports with high confidence that future heat health risks are expected to be greater in urban areas due to the heat island effect. The report also addresses societal impacts of heat islands, including lower labor productivity, unequal economic stress on residents, and thermal inequity. It suggests interventions such as green roofs and cool roofs can reduce the heat island effect.
California Aims to Build Extreme Heat Resilience through New Action Plan
California released an Extreme Heat Action Plan outlining actions to adapt and strengthen resilience to higher temperatures, more frequent and severe heat waves, and heat islands. The plan calls for establishing a heat island effect index, supporting local and tribal heat action plans that cool heat islands, and driving heat resilience through updated building codes. The state also offers Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants, which include funding eligibility for heat islands and extreme heat reduction activities as part of mobility planning.
Three Cities Build Tree Equity Through Urban Forestry Initiatives
Camden and Newark, New Jersey, and Baltimore, Maryland have maintained higher levels of tree equity than other cities through municipal urban forestry programs that focus on community engagement and partnerships with local nonprofit organizations. In Camden, the New Jersey Tree Foundation enlisted the help of 15,000 volunteers. Newark’s Office of Sustainability uses the i-Tree tool to prioritize neighborhoods for planting. Similarly, TreeBaltimore created a street tree inventory, which informed a planting map. Leaders in all three cities cite the importance of community outreach for increasing the number of trees on private property to cool local heat islands.
Community Engagement Advances Tree Equity in Washington, DC
An article published in Trees, Forests, and People documents methods to expand community participation in tree stewardship in Washington, DC’s Ward 8, which experiences the highest levels of tree inequity in the city. Researchers conducted interviews with residents and identified six drivers or barriers to expanding the tree canopy: emotional, aesthetic, health, environment, gentrification, and maintenance. Through this effort, the researchers gathered 660 commitments to plant free trees on private property.
New Boston Heat Resilience Plan to Focus on Environmental Justice Communities
Boston, Massachusetts Mayor Michelle Wu announced the release of Heat Resilience Solutions for Boston, a citywide heat plan with 26 strategies to address urban heat and protect residents, such as a citywide cooling network (e.g., cooling centers, outdoor heat relief spaces), increased shade on municipal sites, and home energy retrofits. The plan centers on environmental justice and equity and focuses on five communities that experience disproportionate temperature increases. Additionally, the city is taking immediate action to provide relief during heat waves, including 30 pop-up cooling kits for community organizations, a new Cool Roof Grant program, and a community-wide ‘cool bus stop’ design challenge.
New Research for Los Angeles Shows Cool Materials Decrease Heat Impacts
A study published in the International Journal of Biometeorology models the impacts of increased tree canopy and high albedo/reflective roofs and pavements on heat in Los Angeles, California. The researchers developed four different albedo and tree cover scenarios, ranging from moderate to aggressive action, to evaluate how they may lessen the impact of heat waves and reduce mortality. The study revealed that aggressive action to increase albedo and tree canopy could decrease daytime air temperatures by 3.6–5.4°F (2–3°C) and reduce heat mortality by up to 25%, compared to the less aggressive actions.
Green Roofs and Green Walls
New Study Reveals Green Walls Can Reduce Local Heat Islands by 14° F
A review published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews examined 51 articles containing 647 case studies on the effects of green wall installation on building energy use and surrounding heat islands. The case studies showed that green walls can reduce energy demand for heating and air conditioning by up to 16.5% and 51%, respectively, and can reduce heat island intensity by up to 9°F. In highly urbanized areas, with narrow streets and high-rise buildings, green wall installation can reduce air temperatures by up to 14°F.
- Toward park design optimization to mitigate the urban heat island: Assessment of the cooling effect in five U.S. cities (Gao et al., 2022) 🔒
- Targeted implementation of cool roofs for equitable urban adaptation to extreme heat (Broadbent et al., 2022) 🔒
- Temperature-adaptive radiative cooling for all-season household thermal regulation (Tang et al., 2021) 🔒
- The disparity in tree cover and ecosystem service values among redlining classes in the United States (Nowak et al., 2022) 🔒
- Ready-to-Fund Resilience Toolkit (American Society of Adaptation Professionals)