Take the heat off me

Because India’s extreme heat and its impact on people is poised to worsen with climate change, increased population and rapid urbanisation, India has taken aim with a Cooling Action Plan, the world’s first national policy roadmap to address cooling demands. However, urban heat islands are mentioned only once in the document and concrete steps to address the issue are missing….

Government agencies can use remote sensing and other technologies to map and monitor urban heat islands to help identify vulnerable regions. Assessments on the amount of vegetation and presence of water, as well as materials used in buildings, can determine how hot neighbourhoods can get. Having this information can help disaster management agencies better plan and implement actions during heatwaves.

Large-scale housing programmes, including prime minister’s Housing for All scheme, which calls for the construction of 20 million houses by 2022, must not ignore urban heat islands and the growing intensity of heatwaves. The initiative must incorporate mandatory requirements on building resilience, including low-cost passive cooling measures.

The solution to minimising urban heat islands lies in the way in which we plan, design and construct our buildings – not in the production of more air-conditioners.

From ‘Buildings Are a Hidden Source of Indian Cities’ Extreme Heat’, World Resources Institute

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