Heat Islands

Urban Heat Island Pilot Project

Beginning in 1998, Baton Rouge, Chicago, Houston, Sacramento, and Salt Lake City participated in EPA's Urban Heat Island Pilot Project (UHIPP). The purpose of UHIPP was to:

  • Assist cities in efforts to adopt and evaluate heat island reduction strategies and programs;
  • Encourage research, education, and communication;
  • Demonstrate and document successful heat island reduction projects that may be adopted in other communities; and
  • Build community support and understanding of heat island reduction strategies.

EPA selected these cities based on the magnitude of the local ground-level ozone problem, the likelihood that the city could benefit from heat island reduction measures, data availability, and local interest in advancing heat island reduction strategies.

Each city had a community representative, who worked closely with EPA and federal researchers. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists collected high spatial resolution data to measure and map surface temperatures and vegetation in these cities. This information, which was gathered by satellites and sensors mounted on jet airplanes, helped the cities identify "hotspots." The Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) researchers conducted detailed land use land characterization of the cities to further help them identify target areas for change. LBNL also modeled the potential air temperature, energy, and air quality impacts from wide-scale adoption of heat island reduction strategies. 

Although UHIPP ended in 2002, the data that these studies yielded have been serving as a foundation for current urban heat island activity in communities throughout North America.

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How Were the EPA-City Partnerships Formed?

The first step in launching UHIPP involved creating a viable partnership between the pilot cities and EPA. The Agency then worked with representatives in the pilot cities to establish local teams of air quality officials, policy makers, technical experts, non-governmental organizations, industry, and others.

In Baton Rouge, Sacramento, and Salt Lake City, for instance, partnerships were established between the participating government agencies and not-for-profit tree-planting organizations. These groups were charged with the responsibility of sharing scientific information and engaging the general public and city officials. Each approached this task differently, based on local circumstances.

How Did UHIPP Participants and Others Share Information?

EPA maintained its relationship with UHIPP cities and other communities through facilitated conference calls. These calls provided an opportunity for pilot city representatives, heat island scientists, project coordinators, industry representatives, and other interested state and local officials to share information on current heat island mitigation activities and research.

After 2002, the focus of these conference calls shifted to broader topics related to urban heat island measurement and mitigation. Starting in 2008, these periodic meetings have been conducted by webcast.

Browse through the conference call archive for meeting summaries. For information on current, upcoming webcasts, see the top of the Urban Heat Island Webcasts and Conference Calls page.

To participate in free, national Urban Heat Island webcasts, contact Erica Bollerud (Bollerud.erica@epamail.epa.gov).

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