Many people have heard the phrase Urban Heat Island Effect but don’t understand what exactly it is or how it affects people living in these “heat islands.” The urban heat island effect refers to a measurable increase in the ambient temperature in urban environments compared to rural surroundings. The increase in air temperature is due to the high volume of non-permeable surfaces, such as black roofs and pavement. According to the EPA, researchers have measured non-permeable surfaces at 50-90° F hotter than the ambient air temperature on hot, sunny days.
Urban heat islands have significant negative impacts on nearby communities. These include increased energy consumption, elevated emissions of air pollutants, human health and discomfort, and impaired water quality. Over the next couple weeks, we will explain how green roofs help to counter these negative influences which urban heat islands pose to our environment.