Urban Canopy
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Urban Canopy

Urban Heat: The Climate Crisis You’ve Sweated Over, But Probably Never Heard Of

Cities are getting hotter than ever. Urban heat is one of the most critical pillars in tackling climate change, it’s killing people in the thousands — and no one’s talking about it.

Thermal image of Sacramento by NASA. Red represents hot surfaces and blue represents cool surfaces.
Thermal image a city surrounded by water: Buildings get hot, surrounding areas are cooler, and bodies of water stay the coolest.

Heat spikes the electricity grid

Electricity demand over 24 hours by season in NYC: Summertime nearly doubles the demand on the grid. Reference: 2017 Power Trends Report by the New York Independent Systems Operator

Heat spikes requires additional power plants

The Kearny Generating Station in a gas peaker power plant in New Jersey. It comes on when AC use spikes the electricity grid.

We can’t solve carbon pollution until we can solve power demand spikes

How power sources contribute to the grid as demand spikes throughout the day. By ecohtech.com

Heat creates smog

Smog over New York City

Heat causes more violent crime

Heat can be fatal

The number of fatalities due to significant heat or cold waves worldwide from 1900 to 2016. The heat wave in Russia in June 2010 led to 55,736 deaths.

Extreme heat targets poor neighborhoods

Learn more in this interview with Jeremy Hoffman on the How to Save the World podcast

Heat puts people in hospital

Air conditioning is expensive

Air conditioning reduces the range of electric cars

We can’t tackle climate change without tackling air conditioning

What do we do about it?

Cities can be cooled with simple low-tech measures: more trees, white roofs, and green roofs.

We have ideas

Urban Canopy

Learn more at urbancanopy.io

The Green Cocoon

The Green Cocoon: An urban green shading device.

Heat Island Model Display

The Escapade

The Escapade

Garden City



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Katie Patrick

Environmental Engineer | “Fitbit for the Planet” Designer | Author of How to Save the World | Learn how to gamify sustainability at http://katiepatrick.com