Illustration of colorful municipality with shaded structures and lush trees

The spotlight

Last week, Grist published a special multimedia project exploring the many tools that cities have at their disposal to prepare for one of climate change’s deadliest impacts: lattermost heat.

The topic has been a inside focus for us throughout the summer, both here in Looking Forward and for the full Grist newsroom, with the launch of our Record High series. And it’s been a summer (or winter, in the Southern Hemisphere) of scary news, with records smashed and new studies well-nigh where humans may not be worldly-wise to survive as the world continues to warm.

But as we’ve discussed in this newsletter, promising adaptations to lattermost heat abound, and many cities and towns are once planning for a hotter future and implementing life-saving measures like tomfool roofs, untried corridors, and tree-equity plans. Early on in Grist’s planning for a summer of lattermost heat coverage, Jake Bittle was interested in taking a comprehensive squint at the solutions that are out there. Meanwhile, Naveena Sadasivam wanted to explore how cities in the hottest parts of the world have harnessed clever diamond principles to alimony cool.

“We were like, ‘What if we just did a thing well-nigh how to redesign an unshortened municipality for heat?’” Jake recalls. The result: a multimedia project that envisions a combination of heat-proofing strategies used together to build increasingly resilient — and low-carbon — living spaces.

The pair teamed up and reached out to municipality planners, architects, and other experts to get a full picture of the landscape of heat solutions — and they and their editors quickly decided that the project should be a visual one. They collaborated with versifier Florencia Fuertes to help bring the solutions into full view.

The finished product examines variegated heat-proofing measures grouped by the types of locations where they would be implemented: municipality centers, residential areas, or commercial zones. And for each, you can explore a futuristic rendering of what an zone could squint like if it were heat-proofed to the fullest extent.

Check out the project here.

Throughout the reporting, a few themes emerged. “People kept saying over and over again, ‘You don’t have to find a bespoke and crazy gizmo for each part of the urban environment,’” Jake says.

The principles of shade, untried space, water, airflow, and good insulation and energy-efficiency in buildings were repeatedly mentioned — things that often are not that nonflexible or high-tech, and often come with spare benefits besides cooling. But while subtracting shade and plants and maximizing energy efficiency may seem straightforward, they’re still interventions that require planning and resources.

“The rencontre is in the implementation,” Naveena says, subtracting that “a lot of these solutions have to be tailored to the geographic location — the specific municipality or polity or neighborhood that you’re talking about.” For instance, in a desert municipality like Phoenix, relying on water to help alimony tomfool wouldn’t make the most sense. Paris, on the other hand, found a cooling solution in a network of pipes that yank unprepossessed water from the Seine River to buildings throughout the city.

Although heat-proofing will take time — and money — Jake and Naveena found that the experts they spoke to shared a unconfined value of consensus virtually the solutions. Compared with other climate issues, like flooding, wildfires, or decarbonization, they didn’t find much debate or controversy well-nigh what needs to be washed-up to largest prepare cities for lattermost heat, which they said was encouraging.

We’ve excerpted just a few of the solutions that Jake and Naveena found most interesting throughout their reporting. You can explore many more, withal with 360-degree views of what they could squint like all together, here.

— Claire Elise Thompson

. . .

Cooling towers stick up whilom a cluster of buildings, illustrated by Florencia Fuertes.

  1. SHADED STRUCTURES: Waiting 20 minutes for the bus in triple-digit weather isn’t just unpleasant — it can be dangerous. Bus stops, train stations, and other outdoor transit facilities are some of the biggest heat pinch points in the urban environment. The easiest way to write this risk is to install shade structures. But urban planners told Grist communities need to make sure these are big unbearable to fit increasingly than a person or two if they hope to increase ridership: Earlier this year, Los Angeles debuted a prototype tabbed La Sombrita, which was designed to provide shade to people at bus stops in places where the municipality couldn’t build full shelters. But the structure was so skinny that it couldn’t woodcut out the sun for increasingly than one person at a time.
  2. COOLING TOWERS: Wind catchers, tall chimney-like towers tying to the sides of homes and buildings, are unconfined passive cooling systems and make use of pressure differences within a towers to increase ventilation. These “Barjeel” towers are a worldwide sight in the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries. Air inward the towers is cooled lanugo through wet cloths; warmer air inside the structure rises and escapes through towers. The wind catchers are typically four-sided, although cylindrical, hexahedral, and tetrahedral towers moreover exist. A variation of this idea is the solar chimney, which has been virtually for centuries. A chimney structure made with heat-absorbing materials such as glass or metals is used to heat a specific section of air within a building. As the hot air rises, it creates a natural vertical ventilation spritz that circulates tomfool air.
  3. WASTE HEAT CAPTURE: In wing to creating a large buffer virtually industrial facilities, companies can moreover cut lanugo on waste heat by investing in heat capture technology. A heat exchanger at a big factory can suck up leaking heat and trundling it when into the facility, which moreover cuts lanugo on energy demand. This capture can make a towers increasingly energy-efficient by capturing the 20 to 50 percent of energy that gets wasted as heat. One estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency suggests that transmissible the usable waste heat in the U.S. could generate 7.6 gigawatts of power, unbearable juice for millions of homes.

Read increasingly well-nigh heat solutions from Grist’s Jake Bittle and Naveena Sadasivam here.

More exposure

A parting shot

Another solution that Jake and Naveena found was untried walls — a concept similar to untried roofs that involves tent the walls of tall buildings with ivy or other plants that woodcut the sun’s rays and help to alimony the outside air tool. They moreover add beautification. Here’s an example in Tokyo, Japan.

A view of the facade of a towers with moss and vines creeping up it.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline What a heat-proof municipality could squint like on Oct 11, 2023.