How to make a city climate-proof, addressing the urban heat island effect

Laura Kleerekoper, Tadeo Baldiri Salcedo & Marjolein van Esch

Go to article

Kleerekoper, L. , Salcedo, T. B. & van Esch, M. (1). How to make a city climate-proof, addressing the urban heat island effect. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 64, 30–38.

The urban heat island effect , Urban climate , Urban design and planning

The climate of a city influences the ways in which its outdoor spaces are used. Especially public spaces intended for use by pedestrians and cyclists, such as parks, squares, residential and shopping streets, and foot- and cycle-paths will be used and enjoyed more frequently when they have a comfortable and healthy climate. Due to a predicted global temperature rise, the climate is likely to be more uncomfortable in the Netherlands, especially in summer, when an increase in heat stress is expected. As the phenomenon of urban heat islands (UHI) aggravates heat stresses, the effects will be more severe in urban environments. Since the spatial characteristics of a city influence its climate, urban design can be deployed to mitigate the combined effects of climate change and UHI’s. This paper explores these effects and tries to provide tools for urban design and strategies for implementation. Consequently, the applicability of the design tools is tested in a design for two existing Dutch neighbourhoods.

Main finding
The authors propose two neighborhood-level design plans including strategies for mitigating urban heat island effects through vegetation, water, built form, and materials. Based on the scientific literature the plans include the following criteria: dwellings within 200 meter of green spaces of a least .15 hectares, street orientation perpendicular to green spaces, high traffic areas have air filtering vegetation, new dwellings should have more surface area, vegetation and water used where possible, and flats roofs should be reflective or made into green roofs while slanted roofs have PV-T panels or reflective surfaces. Additionally, where greening strategies are not possible along streets, the use of surface water, green facades, and permeable pavements should be applied to compensate. The authors stress that policymakers need quantifiable metrics and suggest that extant heat accumulation be established with measurement, a tolerable level of accumulation be defined, and mitigating measures be quantified.

Description of method used in the article
This article has no specified methods but involves an extensive review of scientific literature to identify and develop practical ways of applying urban design strategies to mitigate the urban heat island effect. These efforts culminate in site plan design proposals for two neighborhoods developed in the 1930s.

Of practical use

Organising categories

Other or N/A
Physical types
Geographic locations