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Designing out the urban heat island effect

Munro, Karen Elizabeth and Grierson, David (2012) Designing out the urban heat island effect. CIC Start Online Innovation Review, n/a (12). pp. 42-50. ISSN n/a

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As the global population reaches an all time high and shows no sign of slowing, and the urban population outnumbers the rural population for the first time in human history, the social, economic and environmental issues faced by those living in urban centres become increasing relevant. The urban heat island effect is a phenomenon witnessed in cities worldwide which sees the ambient air temperatures in cities be significantly higher when compared to temperatures in the rural surroundings. A number of characteristics of cities contribute to the creation of an urban heat island: the removal of vegetation to construct buildings and road; the ability of materials such as concrete, asphalt, steel and brick to absorb, store and release heat; the energy used by a building’s services including heating, air conditioning and ventilation; vehicular movement through a city; and general lack of green spaces. Essentially, urban heat islands are caused by the land use change from natural environment to built environment.