To fight heat waves downtown: 3 ideas to test

28 September 2017

Suffocating air and zooming temperatures - last summer big cities suffered from the heat. Public authorities wondered what to do about it? To prepare for the arrival of the next heat wave, solutions exist. Here are 3 methods to try !

Install green lungs downtown

First of all, take the fight to “urban canyons” - small pockets of heat blocked in the streets which store up to 90 % of the solar radiation. Green buildings and spaces act as natural air-conditioners and can reduce temperatures by 2°C (1). Experts have got together to develop new methods…

  • In Milan, two entirely green tower blocks won the prestigious International High Rise Award in 2014.
  • In Paris, gardens have been planted on the roofs of buildings.
  • In Lyon, 12 green columns were installed on a car park frontage… and these are only some examples!À Milan, deux tours entièrement arborées ont remporté le prestigieux International Highrise Award en 2014.

The use of water in all its forms!

Dying of heat is not inevitable! Echoing the proverb “water is life ”, Carpentras and Paris are just two of the cities to have installed misters (2). An affordable, simple, solution for fighting downtown heat waves. Pools and fountains are also useful heat-cooling solutions.
Here is an example: In the early 2000s, Seoul uncovered one of the rivers over which a highway passed. And the results are there: a true green lung for the Korean capital, the presence of the river lowers the temperature by 3 to 5°C in the surrounding area compared to that on a main road that runs parallel ! (3)

Check out 4 green city projects well worth knowing!

Americans see life in white

Paint main roads in inner cities white to reflect heat! So simple! In Los Angeles, the “cool pavements” experiment seems promising. It’s true that the blacktop used for road-making stores 80 to 95 % of solar radiation…
Now we have to test how long a coat of paint will stay on a roadway. In 2010, New York launched its famous “white roof project” (3).

The next step could be solar town planning.

Public authorities envisage increasingly long-lasting downtown heat waves in the coming years. Quality of life, the health of the residents and biodiversity depend above all on decisions by public authorities – so over to you !

  1. Franceinfo, Canicule, comment rafraîchir les villes
  2. France Bleu, Canicule, la mairie de Carpentras installe des brumisateurs dans la rue 
  3. Landscape performance series, Cheonggyecheon Stream Restoration Project
  4. Sud Ouest, À Los Angeles, de la peinture blanche sur les routes contre la chaleur

Photo credits: Fotolia / Sayan

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