This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 01, 2002

Houston Group to Plan Ways to Fight Heat Island Effect

The power of solar energy is all too apparent in today's cities, where dark roofs, asphalt, concrete, and other materials inadvertently work together to make the cities function as giant solar collectors. The resulting "heat island" effect can boost urban temperatures by 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit, driving up the use of air conditioners, increasing ozone levels, and exacerbating health problems.

In Houston - a city that has more than its share of both heat and ozone - a non-profit group is now developing a plan to reduce the city's heat island effect. The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) has received a grant to develop a "Cooler Houston Implementation Plan," which is likely to include tree planting projects as well as incentives for roofers and pavers to use heat-reflecting materials. See the HARC press release.

The urban heat island effect is a matter of international interest, as demonstrated by the North American Urban Heat Island Summit, which starts this evening in Toronto. The summit of leading researchers, municipal leaders, doctors, and policy experts from across Canada and the United States will tackle heat island trends and challenges, best practices, and the latest science on heat island adaptation and mitigation measures. See the summit announcement on the City of Toronto Web site.

For more information about the urban heat island effect, see the Heat Island Group, part of DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.