New Study Shows Ways to Maximize Temperature-Lowering Benefits of Chicago's Green Roofs

Sourced from Phys.Org

Extreme heat poses a unique challenge to cities in the United States. According to the National Weather Service, extreme heat accounts for 20 percent of deaths by natural hazard in the United States, taking an average of 130 lives per year.

With exploding urban populations and increasing migration, cities are struggling to keep up with increases in extreme heat-related climate impacts, threatening human health, straining energy resources and reducing economic productivity.

Heavily populated cities like Chicago have made an effort to mitigate the effects of extreme heat, implementing green roofs designed to provide insulation and significantly lower temperatures.

Now in a new study published in Environmental Research Letters, researchers have created an integrated framework to identify which neighborhoods would benefit most from green roofs—and provide city officials with a strategic approach to ensure the best return on their investment to beat the heat.

"We wanted to look at the potential of these types of mitigation strategies through the eyes of the mayor, city manager or city planner," said Ashish Sharma, research assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, who led the study for Notre Dame's Environmental Change Initiative. "If you're considering factors like temperature and electricity consumption to improve quality of life, reduce energy loads and lower temperatures, you need a scientific and interdisciplinary approach. We examined temperatures based on current climate models, electricity consumption (air conditioning) loads from public available data, and socioeconomic vulnerability of census tracts to identify susceptible hotspots. The goal of this study is to help city officials make more-informed decisions when it comes to urban planning."

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