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Urban Heat Island Project

​The urban heat island (UHI) effect describes the higher day and night temperatures experienced in urban and suburban areas compared to the temperatures of their rural surroundings. This temperature gap results from solar heat trapped and absorbed by the built environment – roads, pavements, buildings, and roofs – as well as waste heat released from machines such as combustion engines (such as in cars, trucks, and generators) and air-conditioners.  

With its miles of roads, highways, and pavements, the transportation sector is a major contributor to the UHI effect and, in turn, is also vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat, which contributes to higher maintenance costs due to pavement deterioration and buckled rails and bridge joints. UHI is an issue that can largely be solved by considering heat equity and cool building technologies.  

To address the UHI challenge, Sac Metro Air District developed an advanced model of the UHI effect in the Capital Region, at local and regional scales, and for today’s conditions as well as a 2050 land use and climate scenario. The model identifies the geographic areas with the most severe UHI effect and evaluates the effectiveness of heat mitigation measure options deployed at various scales. These findings were distilled into transportation resilience recommendations and strategies for local governments. The project team also conducted community outreach and engagement throughout the Capital Region to understand community concerns around extreme heat, transportation needs, and priorities for neighborhood and transportation improvements.

Sac Metro Air District's Urban Heat Project findings and recommendations can aid local governments in their overall planning for extreme heat and heat resilience for public health, land use design, urban forestry, and more. For the transportation sector, the project findings can help to improve the resilience of roadways and pavements, as well as support the health of active transportation users. These goals are in line with the State of California's broader goals for climate resilience planning and the California Transportation Plan 2040’s goals for a vibrant multimodal transportation system. 

Find all of the reports below or checkout our website for interactive exploration of the project.
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