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source Rick Triana/The

Nature Conservancy

Creating Urban Heat Solutions in the Valley of the Sun

Join us to find solutions to extreme heat to make change across the Valley! Phoenix is one of the hottest cities in the world. Over 900 people died due to heat in Maricopa County between 2006 and 2016. In addition, almost 2,000 people across the county suffer illness due to heat every year. People at greatest risk for heat-related illness and death include infants and young children, the elderly, people who are overweight or who have existing medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, people who are socially isolated, and the poor. Even young and healthy individuals can be affected by heat if they are active during hot weather. For these reasons, we are working with local partners and residents in three neighborhoods in Phoenix and Mesa to find solutions to create a healthier environment for hot areas across the Valley and to incorporate those strategies into regional planning efforts.

HEAT Urban Heat Island (UHI) – the combined effect of buildings, roads and other materials that trap heat and make cities hotter than surrounding areas Extreme Heat Events – weather that is significantly hotter/more humid than average; increased chance of heat-related illness/death


Summers are getting hotter and lasting longer HEAT How can heat impact me? HEAT – • affects our ability to walk, bike, catch a bus or wait for the light rail • increases the likelihood of health complications • prevents us from enjoying unshaded outdoor spaces • can increase our costs associated with air conditioning, travel, and health

The Phoenix Metropolitan Area averages 110 days a year with temperatures over 100°F (37.8°C), and summers are getting hotter and lasting longer each year. The effects of these rising temperatures are amplified by urban heat islands, and as temperatures continue to rise residents of the Valley are at increased risk of exposure to extreme heat. However, small changes in the design and structure of a neighborhood can greatly reduce the causes of urban heat island and increase thermal comfort. Thermal Comfort - a measure of someone’s satisfaction with heat conditions in their neighborhood

Who is Most Affected by Extreme Heat? There were 76% more heat-related deaths in 2016 than 2015 in Maricopa County. The threat is growing. Those most at risk: • older adults • young children • people with existing health problems • disabled people • people taking medication for mental health problems • people who work or play outside • the homeless

• people without access to heat relief like air conditioning or shade • heat risk and exposure to extreme heat is much higher in neighborhoods with high socio-economic vulnerability, with temperatures as much as 15°F (6.1°C) higher than other communities.

Heat death density map for Maricopa County (2015-2016)

HEAT Heat-Associated Death – a death in which exposure to extreme heat contributed significantly (common among those with pre-existing health conditions) Heat-Caused Death – a death directly caused by exposure to extreme heat Heat-Related Death – a death where exposure to extreme heat either caused the death or contributed to it significantly

These impacts of heat limit access to crucial resources like healthcare, healthy food and safe outdoor spaces.

source Maricopa County Department of Public Health



Causes of the Urban Heat Island

Effects of the Urban Heat Island • Heat trapping construction materials like asphalt and concrete raise nighttime temperatures by releasing stored heat at night. • Densely packed buildings restrict air flow and trap heat in cities which raises nighttime temperatures. • Waste heat emitted from cars, air conditioners, and other machines increase air temperatures in the city.

• Higher energy demand and electricity bills

• Rolling blackouts caused by heavy power demand

• Decreased thermal comfort

• Extreme heat events kill more people in the US annually than all other extreme weather events combined

• Higher risk of heat-related illness/death • Worsening of pre-existing conditions like asthma, kidney problems and diabetes

Weatherization – simple home improvements such as installing insulation, sealing doors, ducts, and windows, and ensuring proper ventilation that can make a big difference in your budget, keep your home cool, and reduce need for air conditioning

Typical Heat Island Temperature Differences Between Urban and Rural Areas

• Vacant lots of pavement and gravel increase local temperatures. source Rick

Triana/The Nature Conservancy

source U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Heat Island



How to Beat the Urban Heat • Green spaces can lower the air temperature by 5°F (2.8°C).

• Shade from trees and man-made structures reduce surface temperatures 20°F (11.1°C) on average.

COOL Cool Spots – green spaces and parks that reduce local temperatures

source Song, S. et al, (2017) Beige the Street!

Heat-mitigating Streetscape with Shade Structure, Bike Parking, Trees, Benches, Planters, Bike Lane

source Mark


Skalny/The Nature Conservancy


Cool the City • Cool roofs stay up to 60°F (33°C) cooler than conventional materials during peak summer weather. The average annual energy cost savings for a cool roof is about $500.

Where to Go When it Gets Too Hot • Cool surfaces are roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and roofs that use alternative materials that absorb less heat.

COOL Hydration station – a location that distributes free water and other donations Refuge station/cooling center – a location that provides a safe, cool place indoors during the day for any community member

source Patricia Ronczy (2017) Cool Spots: Pedestrian Rest Stops for South Mountain Village

Heat-retaining surfaces like roads, parking lots, and rooftops are some of the biggest contributors to urban heat. You can see the stark contrast between cool vegetation and hot rooftops and streets in this infrared image, taken from a helicopter. source for both images Peter

Crank, ASU Urban Climate Research Center


Shade structure and trees provide shading; Water fountains for residents and pets; Benches provide an area to rest

Cooling Stations / Water Donations Map by Maricopa Association of Governments available:


Tips to Avoid Heat-Related Illness from Maricopa Association of Governments Heat Relief Network

Discuss with the Nature’s Cooling Systems Project team and your neighbors:

• Drink more water and other fluids. Staying hydrated is extremely important.

1. Last summer, how did the temperature in your neighborhood compare to other neighborhoods in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area?

Heat-Associated Deaths by Place of Injury (2016)

• Limit exercise or outdoor activity between the hours of 11am and 3pm. • When outdoors, wear a sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30 and reapply often. Wear a hat, lightweight clothing and sunglasses.


• Rest frequently in shady or cool areas to give the body’s temperature a chance to recover and cool down. • Never leave infants, children or pets inside a parked vehicle. • Check on elderly neighbors to make sure their air conditioning is working and in use. Take advantage of free air-conditioning by visiting locations like shopping malls, the library or other heat refuge locations provided on the map, available online:


Outdoor (N=78) Indoor (N=52)

Outdoor Heat-Associated Deaths by Place of Injury (2016) 6% 19% 44% 31%

2. Are you satisfied with the number of trees and plants in your neighborhood? 3. Do you think that there is sufficient shade cover in your neighborhood? 4. Which of the following do you use to seek relief from extreme heat?

a. In-home A/C b. In-home swamp coolers c. Fans d. Misters e. Public pool f. Go to a local park g. Go to an air conditioned public space h. Other:

5. Last summer did you or any members of your household experience symptoms related to heat or high temperatures such as dry mouth, leg cramps, dizziness, fatigue, fainting, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, or heat exhaustion? Which ones? 6. In the past year has extreme heat prevented you from using any mode of transportation such as a personal vehicle, walking, biking, or public transportation (i.e. buses, light rail, bike share)? Any other? 7. Do you know of any “problem” areas in regard to extreme heat in your neighborhood that need immediate attention? 8. Are there cool spots in your neighborhood? (i.e., places that are cooler in temperature) What makes them cool?

Urban Area (N=34) Desert Area/Trail (N=24) Private Residence (N=15) Car (N=5)


source Maricopa

County Department of Public Health


Nature’s Cooling Systems Project: Creating Urban Heat Solutions The Nature’s Cooling Systems Project addresses heat at the neighborhood level and in urban planning in Maricopa County, Arizona. The project includes the development of Heat Action Plans in three neighborhoods that will be models for a community-based approach to building

heat resilience. These neighborhoods are some of the hottest and least vegetated areas in the county where health is regularly affected by heat. The project also involves working with urban planners and other decision-makers to incorporate heat mitigation analyses and strategies into planning efforts.

Community Resources Community Resources:

In the event of a utilities emergency:

• Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) / Utility Repair and Replacement Deposit (URRD)

• City of Mesa Electricity (480) 644-2266

• Police, Fire, Ambulance 911

LIHEAP offers assistance on current and past energy bills, and URRD provides assistance for deposits to make repairs and/or replacements to existing utility related systems

- For Mesa: A New Leaf’s MesaCAN (480) 833-9200 -

For Phoenix Residents: City of Phoenix Human Services Department (602) 262-6666

City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services (602) 534-4444 ext 4 Foundation for Senior Living (602) 285-1800 • Free, confidential referral and information helpline that connects people to the essential health and human services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week 211 source Rick


• Salt River Project (SRP) (602) 236-8811 ENG (602) 236-1100 SPA

• Arizona Public Service (APS) (602) 371-7171 • Southwest Gas / City of Mesa Gas (602) 271-4277 / (480) 644-4277 • City of Phoenix / Mesa water (602) 261-8000 / (480) 644-2262

For information on heat relief resources:

• Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) (602) 452-5060 • Arizona Division of Emergency Management (602) 464-6500 • Cooling Stations / Water Donations Map

Weatherization Assistance Program for Homeowners:

• City of Phoenix (602) 495-0700 • MesaCAN (480) 833-9200

Triana/The Nature Conservancy


Who We Are

Tree Canopy by Census Block

source NLCD 2011 Percent Tree Canopy. Map by: Lisa McCauley / The Nature Conservancy



source Dave

Lauridsen/The Nature Conservancy


This booklet was created for the Nature’s Cooling Systems Project, a partnership of The Nature Conservancy, Arizona State University’s Urban Climate Research Center and Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network, Central Arizona Conservation Alliance, Phoenix Revitalization Corporation, RAILMesa, and Puente Movement.

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Nature's Cooling Systems - Creating Urban Heat Solutions in the Valley of the Sun  

Join us to find solutions to extreme heat to make change across the Valley! Phoenix is one of the hottest cities in the world. Over 900 peo...

Nature's Cooling Systems - Creating Urban Heat Solutions in the Valley of the Sun  

Join us to find solutions to extreme heat to make change across the Valley! Phoenix is one of the hottest cities in the world. Over 900 peo...

Profile for crummey