Urban heat islands tools and resources

This page provides tools and resources to help public health professionals advance actions to reduce Urban Heat Islands.

Public health

Climate Change Toolkit for Health Professionals
Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (April 2019)

This toolkit provides guidance to health care professionals who are interested in advancing policies, programs and practices to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change in their workplaces and communities. The first four modules provide background information about climate science, international agreements, health impacts globally and locally, and greenhouse gas emissions across Canada. The remainder of the toolkit shares information on the health benefits associated with climate solutions and actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change in health care facilities and communities. This guide can help health professionals understand climate change generally as well as provide guidance about specific actions to help advance climate action, including reducing urban heat islands.

Healthy Built Environment Linkages Toolkit
BC Centre for Disease Control, Population & Public Health Team (May 2018, Version 2.0)

This guide provides information and case studies to support the inclusion of health considerations within community planning and design in British Columbia. The toolkit describes why the built environment is important for health and how health outcomes can be improved through the design of neighbourhoods, housing, transportation systems, natural environments, and food systems. The information and guidance in the toolkit are intended to help health professionals provide well-informed recommendations - which could include urban heat island reduction actions - within local government planning processes and decision-making.

Cities Adapt to Extreme Heat: Celebrating Local Leadership
Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (December 2016)

This report shares best practices of how Canadian communities can prepare for and mitigate the adverse health impacts of extreme heat. It contains 20 case studies that provide specific examples of how communities have developed and implemented actions to reduce vulnerability to extreme heat, including preventative actions to prepare for heat waves. Four case studies in the report provide information about how communities in Canada have implemented actions to reduce urban heat islands.

A Heatwave Guide for Cities
Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre (July 2019)

This guide includes information to help city staff and partners understand city-specific heat wave risks, develop an early-warning system, work with partners to consolidate heat-action plans, and adapt urban-planning practices. It includes international case studies, recommended actions, and online resources. Health professionals can use this guide to learn about how to implement climate-sensitive designs and reduce urban heat islands.

Urban planning and design focus

"Reducing the Urban Heat Island Effect" Parking Lot Development Design Guide
Bureau de normalisation du Québec (February 2013)

Large paved urban areas, such as parking lots, can create significant urban heat islands. This design guide provides strategic guidance on how to develop parking lots that reduce urban heat islands and protect public health. It outlines the properties of urban heat islands and actions for how to reduce them. The guide, which includes examples of how to develop green and cool parking lots, is intended for designers, landscape architects, municipalities, agencies, government departments and parking lot owners. Health professionals can use the guide to understand the link between parking lot design and urban heating and decide on actions they can recommend to protect public health.

Guidelines for Selecting Cool Roofs
U.S. Department of Energy (July 2010)

Cool roofs are designed to maintain a lower roof temperature than traditional roofs and can help reduce urban heat Island effects. This guidebook provides information and case studies on how cool roofs function, the options and materials available, and how to determine if a cool roof is appropriate for a given building. The contents were designed to inform both decision-makers and technical experts. Health professionals can use the guide to better understand and advocate for cool roofs in their communities.

Améliorer des ilots de fraîcheur et améliorer les espaces de vie : guide pour les gestionnaires d'habitation (French only)
Centre d'écologie urbaine de Montréal (2013)

This guide provides a description of several greening projects in Montreal, Quebec completed with the goal of improving health. It includes a brief overview of urban heat islands as they relate to health, specific examples of greening techniques (e.g. planting trees and climbing plants), case studies in Montreal, and extensive information on appropriate vegetation to plant. This guide, by providing specific examples of urban greening in the Canadian context, can help health professionals with making the case for reducing urban heat islands in their communities.

Urban Heat Island Mitigation Strategies: Literature Review
Institut national de santé publique du Québec (July 2009)

This Government of Quebec report is a comprehensive literature review about urban heat islands, with a focus on climate change and health. Drawing on literature from the health, architecture, planning, transportation, and engineering fields, it includes information on the causes and impacts of urban heat islands and practical case studies in Quebec and around the world. This report can help health professionals better understand the impacts of urban heat islands on health and implement best practice preventative strategies.

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