Expanding Cities Turn Up The Heat

Greening cities is not only good for emotional and mental health of humans and for animal habitats, it can also bring the temperature down and bring real estate prices up.

A University of NSW study has found an expansion of concrete and asphalt on the fringes of cities could increase urban temperatures by as much as 3.7 degrees by the year 2050.

The study’s lead author Dr Daniel Argueso said this could cause heat stress and higher energy consumption meaning higher power bills and more stress on the environment and fossil fuel usage.

UNSW’s Faculty of Built Environment’s Dr Paul Osmond is pushing for changes to urban planning.

“Current research shows that, along with other strategies, green spaces, street trees and bodies of water can have a marked effect on reducing urban heat island effect,” he said.

“Quite often, leafy suburbs that contain a number of parks and bodies of water also tend to see increased real estate values.”

The urban heat island effect is caused by urban buildings storing more heat than open ground and releasing this heat at night and urban surfaces hinder evaporation and its cooling effect.

The City of Sydney is working with UNSW to collect information to see how shade trees and pavement colour affect urban temperatures with monitoring systems installed in Chippendale and Redfern.

Adelaide has studied the urban heat island effect in the past, led by Dr Huade Guan from Flinders University.

The overall message is that more urban greening brings the temperature down and real estate prices up- a win-win situation.

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