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Launched at COP26, Beating the Heat is a handbook that provides strategies for sustainable cooling of cities. Created by the Cool Coalition, UNEP, RMI, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCoM), Mission Innovation and Clean Cooling Collaborative, it offers planners an encyclopedia of proven options to help cool cities.

In recent weeks, much attention has focused on how well the world is tracking against the Paris Agreement’s aims of restricting global temperature rises to 1.5°C, with the conclusion being that we are heading beyond 2.5°C unless we take stronger action. The situation for cities is even more urgent. Research shows that the world’s cities are heating up at twice the global average rate due to the urban heat island effect. By 2100, cities across the world could warm as much as 4°C on average.

The authors note that hotter cities could be catastrophic for public health. The number of people exposed to summertime highs above 35˚C is expected increase 800 per cent to reach 1.6 billion by mid-century.

The problem will be felt most by lower-income districts within cities, which are often “hot spots” due to a lack of green spaces and to the co-location of industrial operations. Residents of these areas are also less likely to be able to afford cooling. Those who can, will generally purchase cheaper and less energy efficient models that will exacerbate the heat island effect.

Beating the Heat: A Sustainable Cooling Handbook provides the tools to develop whole-system approaches to addressing urban cooling across three core steps:

  • Efficient planning and design at the scale of the city or urban district, with an emphasis on heat-minimising urban form and design, nature-based solutions, and cool surfaces designed to reduce the urban heat island effect, in turn also reducing cooling loads in buildings.
  • Enhancing the thermal performance of buildings and minimising cooling loads using passive building design practices with an emphasis on leading by example on government buildings and raising the floor with building energy codes and standards.
  • Efficient and best-fit cooling technologies and operations to deliver the required amount of cooling with the least amount of energy, emissions and anthropogenic heat.

The guide includes 80 case studies and examples that can be combined for different urban contexts. It includes two Australian case studies, both from Western Sydney: the Turn Down the Heat Strategy and Action Plan, and the Climate Adapted People Shelters Design Competition.

To read the handbook, click here.

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