A new Phoenix city office was created to focus on the issue of urban heat

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The City of Phoenix has created a new city “office” to focus on how best to deal with the increasing problem of urban heat. We spoke with Mayor Kate Gallego and ASU Professor David Hondula, who will run the new “Heat Response and Mitigation Office.”

This office is, “the first in the nation, publicly funded office that looks at heat. When you’re Mayor, in the summer people are like ‘when are you going to do something about the heat’ and all my colleagues, city council, got the question as well. So now we are finally doing something,” Gallego said.

She continued, “we’ve set up an office that looks at how the heat impacts everyone in our community including those who are most vulnerable. We’re hoping to expand on some of the successes that the city has had and addressing heat locally and looking bigger picture.”

Hondula shares why he took the directing position of this new office, “this is a tremendous opportunity to address one of the major challenges that faces our city, our region, and many cities across the world. As Mayor and Council have articulated, we’ve done a wonderful job as an academic community for decades, understanding about this problem and why it exists and speculating on what we might be able to do about it.”

When it comes to the ‘Urban Heat Island’, “we’re actually quite encouraged about what we can do in terms of the urban heat island…the urban heat island is a process that leads to temperatures in the center of cities being higher than the surrounding areas because of the way we build our cities and the types of activities that are concentrated in them, like driving lots of vehicles operating lots of air conditioners,” Hodula said.

He continued that pilot programs they’ve suggested starting that are meant to help cool the city like reflective roads, tree planting, reflective roof materials, could reduce heat in the city in the future.

Professor David Hondula, Associate Professor, School of Geographical Sciences & Urban Planning ASU
Mayor Kate Gallego, City of Phoenix

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