Urban Heat Island Effect

Urban Heat Island Effect

Urban heat islands are areas that experience higher temperatures than nearby less developed areas because they have more paved surfaces and buildings, and less vegetation. Urban heat islands occur when buildings and pavements absorb heat during the day and radiate the heat at night, leading to poor air quality and health problems. The urban heat island effect, made worse by climate change, disproportionately impacts communities of color and low-income communities.

Impacts of urban heat islands include:

  • Increased energy consumption and waste heat as people use air conditioning to keep cool
  • Compromised comfort and human health, including increased risk of heat-related illnesses, especially for children and elders
  • Elevated emissions of air pollutants, like smog, and greenhouse gasses
  • Impaired water quality; high pavement temperatures warm stormwater and ultimately impact the health of aquatic life