Cool Policies for Cool Cities

A survey of North American cities by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) and the Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA) finds that confronting the challenges of extreme weather, adapting to a changing climate, and improving the health and resiliency of urban populations are driving cities to develop and implement strategies to reduce excess urban heat.

ACEEE and GCCA surveyed 26 cities in the U.S. and Canada representing all of the major climate zones, geographies, and city sizes. Despite the diversity of the respondents, several common themes emerged. Local governments are “leading by example” by requiring use of “cool” technologies, such as reflective roofs on municipal buildings, lining city streets with shade trees, and raising public awareness. Additionally, more than half of the cities have some kind of requirement in place for reflective and vegetated roofing for private sector buildings. Almost every city had policies to increase tree canopy and manage storm water.

The report includes case studies on how several cities have responded to urban heat, demonstrating the variety of strategies employed. In response to a study that found that Houston’s roofs and pavements can reach 160⁰F, the city now requires most flat roofs in the city to be reflective. After an extreme heat wave in 2008, Cincinnati lost much of its urban canopy, and instituted an aggressive forestry plan. Washington D.C. has instituted a wide suite of programs such as Green Alleys, which helps residents manage excess stormwater by replacing pavement with grass and trees, and requiring reflective roofs on all new buildings.

Cities surveyed in the report include: Albuquerque, NM; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Chula Vista, CA; Cincinnati, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Louisville, KY; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Omaha, NE; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; Sacramento, CA; St. Louis, MO; Toronto, ON; Vancouver, BC; and Washington, DC.

 

Source: ACEEE and GCCA

Publication Date: June 2014

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