Resilience Strategies for Extreme Heat

Climate change is contributing to more frequent, severe, and longer heat waves during summer months across the United Sates. The number of heatwaves observed in 2011 and 2012 were triple the long-term average, and require planning for economic, health and environmental tolls.

Local and state governments are already deploying strategies for heat mitigation to reduce urban heat islands, prepare for long-term trends of higher temperatures and plan emergency responses for heatwaves. To help local, county, and state officials understand the role of some common strategies in a holistic approach to managing climate risks, this fact sheet considers a comprehensive set of resilience benefits and co-benefits for those strategies. Estimates of costs are included, if available, though actual project costs will depend on local climate projections and other factors. Identification of co-benefits creates more opportunities for financing, additional design objectives and increases the political viability of these resilience actions. The monetization of each benefit summarized in this fact sheet will be most helpful in prioritizing strategies for closer study in your community. This fact sheet also includes tools that town or city officials and planners can use in assessing local project co-benefits.

Key Takeaways

  • Observed and projected increase in temperatures has sparked concern about the growing public health and economic impacts of extreme heat.
  • Communities across the country are implementing site-specific solutions like cool roofing, cool pavement and tree planting in anticipation of hotter temperatures.
  • Resilience strategies often have higher upfront costs than traditional options, but provide long-term economic, public health, aesthetic, and environmental benefits.