Extreme Heat

  • A heat vulnerability assessment uses available data to quantify and map the heat risk throughout the community. 
  • This data can then be used to address the risk. 

  • A heat response plan can include strategies and procedures to respond to extreme heat-related emergencies.
  • A key component is cooling centers and access to them for vulnerable populations.
  • Plans could also include other measures (or “non-emergency measures”) such as increasing the availability and affordability of air conditioning, encouraging or requiring heat-sensitive building techniques such as green or white roofs, increasing tree coverage, and addressing urban heat islands.

  • As summertime temperatures rise, the rate of ground-level ozone formation, or smog, increases. By lowering temperatures, urban heat island mitigation strategies can help reduce ground-level ozone concentrations. Many cities and counties are struggling to attain National Ambient Air Quality Standards, particularly for ground-level ozone. Most of these areas have adopted a wide range of emission control strategies on traditional air pollution sources and are seeking innovative ways to further reduce air pollution levels. Communities are considering urban forestry and cool roofs, in particular, as technologies that can help them reach attainment.

  • Outreach and education can help build awareness of heat island risks and establish a foundation for action.

  • Building Codes
    • Building codes are regulations adopted by local and state governments that establish standards for construction, modification, and repair of buildings and other structures. An energy code is a portion of the building code that relates to energy usage and conservation requirements and standards. Some cities and states have begun including cool roofing in their building codes because of its potential to save energy, particularly during peak loads.
  • Procuring cool technologies for municipal buildings
    • Since state and local governments usually put construction work and material supplies out for bid, they can revise bid specifications to include cool and green infrastructure such as green roofs, cool coatings on pavement, pervious pavement, trees, parking lot shading requirements.
  • Comprehensive plans, sometimes called general plans in California and other states, are adopted by a legislative body of a local government, and set forth policies, goals, and objectives to direct development and conservation that occurs within its planning jurisdiction. They generally have a broad scope and long-term vision. Design guidelines provide a connection between general planning policies and implementing regulations, such as zoning codes and subdivision regulations. Design guidelines convey a sense of the preferred quality for a place by being descriptive and suggestive.
  • Zoning Codes
    • These regulations generally dictate function for an area, building height and bulk, population density and parking requirements. Zoning codes can also promote heat island mitigation strategies in various ways. For example, cities such as Sacramento have adopted parking lot shading requirements as part of their zoning codes.
  • Green building codes and standards
    • Green building initiatives place a high priority on human and environmental health and resource conservation over the life cycle of a building. Many local, state and federal governments have adopted green building programs, or standards, that capture heat island reduction strategies.
  • Weatherization Programs
    • Weatherization usually involves making the homes of qualifying residents, generally low-income families, more energy efficient at no cost to the residents. States use weatherization funds provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program to help recipients cover heating bills and invest in energy efficiency actions that lower costs. States can also use the funds to install cooling efficiency measures, such as screening and shading devices.

CDC Building Resilience Against Climate Effects

The following resources are provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Learn more about the BRACE framework.

  1. Anticipate Climate Impacts and Assessing Vulnerabilities
    Identify the scope of climate impacts, associated potential health outcomes, and populations and locations vulnerable to these health impacts.
  2. Project the Disease Burden
    Estimate or quantify the additional burden of health outcomes associated with climate change.
  3. Assess Public Health Interventions
    Identify the most suitable health interventions for the identified health impacts of greatest concern.
  4. Develop and Implement a Climate and Health Adaptation Plan
    Develop a written adaptation plan that is regularly updated. Disseminate and oversee implementation of the plan.
  5. Evaluate Impact and Improve Quality of Activities
    Evaluate the process. Determine the value of information attained and activities undertaken.

Source Documents

These strategies are adapted from the following existing website: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other federal resources. Please view these strategies in the context provided by the primary source document:

Other Federal Resources:

Other potential adaptation strategies are available from industry organizations, including: