On average, cities are 3 to 8 degrees Celsius warmer than rural areas because built environments emit heat; urban surfaces absorb more sunlight and heat than natural landscapes; and urban areas lack vegetation to cool through evaporation. This phenomenon, termed “urban heat island effect,” triggers an increase in building energy use and air pollution, and reduces the quality of urban life. Increasing the reflectance of buildings and paved surfaces reduces urban temperatures. Many cities have started to address the urban heat island effect in their local jurisdictions. These early successes represent a great opportunity for knowledge sharing and collaboration among C40 Cities – learning from the experiences of early-adopting cities and accelerating the dissemination of successful strategies to mitigate urban heat islands.
The Cool Cities Network will focus on opportunities for cities to reap the economic, energy, health, environmental, and social benefits of reducing urban heat islands by developing tools and resources to identify the causes and impacts of urban heat islands; supporting the design and launch of cool surface programmes and city action plans; and by fostering peer-to-peer and expert knowledge exchanges to share best practices, proven strategies, and data.
The Cool Cities Network is supported through a partnership with the Global Cool Cities Alliance (GCCA), a non-profit organisation with the sole aim of accelerating a global transition to “highly reflective, cooler, and healthier cities.”
The City of Melbourne’s Urban Landscapes branch has been inspired by the innovative policies and approaches that many cities in the Cool Cities Network have developed. Accessing the Cool Cities Network to exchange perspectives, share stories and compare approaches on cooling and greening strategies has been very beneficial to furthering our thinking. Based on webinar conversations with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in 2013 about their National Conservation Ordinance we are now considering if a similar policy might be effective in Melbourne. We have undertaken an international policy review to understand how other cities have encouraged greening in the private realm. This review has focused strongly on Tokyo, Seattle, Berlin and Chicago and it is now feeding into new policy exploration and development for the City of Melbourne.
Yvonne Lynch, Urban Landscapes, City of Melbourne