extreme heat
Close-up Hot temperature fahrenheit or celsius.

A new study conducted by ULI Research looks at the effects of climate change, with specific focus on rising temperatures and extreme heat, on urbanisation.

The study was a partnership between the research firm and the JPB Foundation, provides US cities with design, technological and policy recommendations to mitigate the impacts and help protect human health.

The release of the study Scorched: Extreme Heat and Real Estate follows the US experiencing severe temperatures over the past month.

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Climate change

Among the key take-aways in the report:

a. More cities in the US are or will be at risk of extreme heat because of climate change and increased urban development.

b. Extreme heat is a pressing public health risk, particularly for low-income and elderly communities.  

c. Without intervention, the current and potential future impacts of extremely high temperatures -- on real estate developments, infrastructure, and the economy --- could be substantial.

d. Widespread adoption of mitigation strategies could help reduce the urban warming trends currently occurring in cities, leaving them to contend with a more manageable 1-degree to 2- degree Fahrenheit increase, rather than the 5-degree to 10-degree increase currently projected for some cities due to the urban heat island effect.

The report further states that:

  1. A total of $1 billion can be saved on electricity costs if all commercial buildings in the US switch from dark to light roofs -  Global Cool Cities Alliance
  2. 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit – the amount by which green roofs can be cooler than conventional rooftops - US Environmental Protection Agency
  3. 6.2 years – The average payback time for installing a green roof on commercial buildings - General Services Administration
  4. 35 degrees Fahrenheit – The maximum amount that trees reduce surface temperatures -- trees also reduce summer air temperatures from 2 degrees to 9 degrees Fahrenheit - Scientific American
  5. 10% – The decrease in office worker productivity in thermally uncomfortable and poorly ventilated environments - UK Green Building Council.

The report recommends the installation of heat wave resilient technologies such as low-energy consuming HVAC systems and light colored surfaces to enhance asset value, higher rent premiums and lower vacancy rates. In addition, the operating costs can decline due to less frequent replacement of heat-damaged materials, lower utility costs, and higher chance of sustained operations during extreme heat events.