According to the EPA, “heat islands are urbanized areas that experience higher temperatures than outlying areas.” Infrastructures like buildings and roads absorb and re-emit the sun’s heat more than natural landscapes. As a result, urban areas with limited greenery can be up to seven degrees warmer during the day, and up to five degrees warmer at night.
Heat islands can have several effects on the quality of life in urban areas, such as:
Here are some things we can do around our homes and commercial buildings to reduce the impacts of heat islands in our communities.
Trees and other plants help cool the environment, making vegetation a simple and effective way to reduce urban heat islands. Trees are most helpful when they’re planted in strategic locations to shade hardscapes like patios, parking areas and streets. Researchers have also found that planting deciduous trees to the west is most effective in cooling homes and buildings, especially if they shade windows and part of the roof. On top of cooling the overall environment, the added shade will also help reduce your energy bill.
Some researchers have found that lawns help decrease temperatures even more than trees do. Grassy areas help absorb heat and water runoff, so it’s important to maintain as much grass in your landscape or community as possible.
Green roofs, or rooftop gardens, are a beautiful way to add valuable community space, while reducing the impacts of heat islands. Even low-growing plants help shade roofing materials that absorb heat from direct sunlight, which reduces temperatures on the roof’s surface and the energy resources needed to cool the building. Using green roofs in cities and other environments with limited vegetation can moderate the heat island effect, especially during the day, and reduce city-wide ambient temperatures by up to five degrees.
As the summer temperatures warm up, add instant comfort to your outdoor spaces with shade canopies and cabanas. Especially on poolside patios and other hardscaping where heat from the sun reverberates off the ground’s surface, shade structures can reduce temperatures to help you enjoy your time outdoors. While trees take years to provide shade, Tuuci parasols and cabanas are installed in a single day and are ready to enjoy immediately. The Solanox Cabana features an automated louvered roof system that can filter harsh sunlight or block it completely. These open-air living rooms also create opportunities to add planters for greenery that thrives in full or partial sunlight.
While there isn’t a single, quick-fix solution to the challenges of global warming, we can all contribute by joining tree planting initiatives in our cities. This makes our communities safer and more comfortable, while reducing our energy bills in the process. Get involved! Let’s reverse the impacts of climate change together!