Urban Heat Island Summit Proceedings
Clean Air Partnership (CAP) hosted the 2010 Urban Heat Island Summit on May 3rd, 2010 in Toronto. The aim of the Summit was to provide a forum for knowledge exchange between local decision-makers, heat researchers, and industry representatives in order to stimulate and share best practices and innovative policy approaches to mitigating and adapting to extreme heat. The event focused on how to reduce urban heat and how to implement these mitigation practices in Southern Ontario communities to protect health, improve energy efficiency, decrease greenhouse gas emissions and increase climate change resiliency. The 2010 Urban Heat Island Summit was generously funded by Health Canada, Environment Canada, Toronto Public Health and Clean Air Partnership.
Presentations focused on the impacts of urban heat islands on infrastructure and public health and how cities are responding; measuring, mapping and assessing vulnerability to the heat island; cooling measures and their effectiveness in reducing the urban heat island as well as policy and planning strategies to reduce the heat island.
The strategies discussed to mitigate against urban heat included:
Dr. Hashem Akbari delivered an informative and powerful presentation on the use of cool roofing to lower air temperatures and improve quality of life in urban areas. Dr. Akbari’s presentation drew attention to new cool roofing technologies available to homeowners which mirror conventional roofs, stepping away from conventional white cool roofing. This was complemented by a presentation from Kristina Hausmanis who spoke about Toronto’s Eco-Roof incentive program and provided examples of existing cool roofs in the Toronto area.
Stephen Peck of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities delivered a passionate presentation about green roofs in Toronto and how they can improve air quality and liveability. Additionally, Lisa King presented on the City of Toronto Green Roof bylaw and Toronto Green Roof Development Standard. The Green Roof bylaw is the first of its kind in Canada to mandate the installation of green roofs on buildings over 2,000m² in size.
Bill Humber from Seneca College and Lisa Gartland from PositivEnergy presented on the variety of paving options available to mitigate against urban heat as well as providing multiple co-benefits including decreasing stormwater runoff and reduced costs.
Urban Forestry and Landscaping
David Orsini from Sunarts Design provided a highly visual presentation on the use of trees and landscaping options to lower urban heat and conserve energy. Strategic planting can reduce temperatures as well as increasing home values, beautifying properties and providing numerous environmental benefits also.
Policy and Planning Strategies
Jen Forkes of Clean Air Partnership and Lisa King from the City of Toronto delivered comprehensive overviews of policy and planning strategies in place to reduce urban heat, both in Toronto and Canada as a whole. Some of the strategies include changes to building standards, use of voluntary action incentives, community/secondary/official/master plans, tree protection bylaws and other actions.
Several presentations, including Dr. Ugis Bickis from Health Canada, also focussed on the health impacts of extreme heat and urban heat islands and identifying populations vulnerable to extreme heat events;
Kevin Behan of Clean Air Partnership and Mélissa Giguère of Institut national de santé publique du Québec demonstrated web based tools for identifying hotspots and vulnerable populations, and enhancing communication around the urban heat island effect. Stephanie Gower of Toronto Public Health showcased Toronto’s hot weather response plan as well as Toronto’s spatially explicit heat vulnerability assessment.
A productive discussion session followed presentations and was organized around three questions for participants.
What are the current activities participants employ to reduce urban heat island affect?
What more needs to be done and who should do it?
What Resources and Partnerships are necessary for moving forward?
Given the variety of backgrounds of Summit participants came, a wide range of activities were discussed. Many of these activities related to public health and were initiated by public health practitioners, while others were being put in place by Planning and other municipal departments as well as community-based NGOs and academics.
In discussing what more needs to be done, key recommendations focused on increasing collaboration and dialogue on the problem of urban heat islands, awareness building, filling research gaps and evaluation of current programs to reduce urban heat and safeguard vulnerable populations, as well as a variety of sector-specific recommendations.
Regarding the resources and partnerships required to move forward, a need for greater financial support from higher orders of government was noted. Such funding would help develop a business case for heat island reduction measures and also support the creation of education and showcase projects to highlight solutions. Partnerships with developers, planners and the construction industry were also deemed necessary for successful long-term mitigation against the urban heat island.
Follow the links below for more detailed Summit information.