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Urban Form

Dealing with urban heat islands

Temperatures across the Island of Montreal (1985)

Temperatures across the Island of Montreal (1985)

The Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal group in Montreal was interviewed in the Gazette the other day about urban heat islands. If you are unsure as to what these are, just consider the difference between being in a parking lot at the end of a hot day vs. being in a park at the end of a hot day. Chances are you are at least subconsciously aware that the park is much more comfortable and much cooler. This effect has to do with the fact that, while plants and greenery tend to shade and absorb heat, concrete, pavement, and asphalt tend to reflect and then store heat, not only intensifying the heat during the day, but keeping the area warmer over all by releasing it later in the day. If you don’t believe it, try walking past a blank brick wall that has had sun all afternoon and once the sun is down and pay attention to the temperature. Cities tend to exacerbate this problem as these materials form the majority of their components. In many cities the temperature is 5 to 10 degrees above the regional average.

To combat hot spots, the city of Montreal has teamed up with the Conseil régional de l’environnement de Montréal and the Conférence régionale des élus, a regional development group, to create more green spaces with the help of concerned businesses and residents.

So far, their are more than 30 participants, including Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport, Alcoa and Hydro-Québec.

“We need to start building a greener city,” said Helen Fotopulos, the city of Montreal executive committee member responsible for parks and green spaces.

“Instead of heat islands, we need to create more cool islands like this,” Fotopulos said after a news conference yesterday that was held in a city garden. source

Creating more parkspace will not only improve the look of our cities it can also help our bottom line by making the city less expensive to cool. Just in case you needed another reason to love parks.


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