The Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative is a multi-disciplinary, national partnership of universities, nonprofit organizations, community groups and government agencies focused on designing data-driven, dynamic, inclusive strategies for cooling urban areas using trees, vegetation and reflective surfaces.
Climate change promises a reality of extremes. And rising urban heat is one of them. Increased heat threatens us all -- especially under-resourced neighborhoods.
The problem and solutions are clear, and the time to act is now.
LAUCC aims to better understand microclimate science and the impacts of heat on urban dwellers’ health and lives. We work at the intersection of research and action -- at both the policy and community levels.
The Collaborative is also poised to listen to communities to hear how extreme heat affects families and what support is needed to respond to the threats of extreme heat.
Planning for hotter cities is a widespread and urgent need. LAUCC is currently focused on Los Angeles, but our partners are national. The goal is to export solutions for other cities to adopt and adapt. We invite you to join us!
Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative Webinar on Modeling Results: Reducing Heat-Related Death in LA County
On March 28, LAUCC held a webinar to share project updates and recently-completed research. Researchers presented how increases in urban forest cover and reflective surfaces would impact temperature, humidity, air mass type and heat-related mortality during heat waves in Los Angeles County. Participants also discussed how implementation of this research has the potential to address climate justice and fills a gap between climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
The Challenge - Evolving our understanding of who is and will be most burdened by extreme heat and how to rapidly increase resilience to heat risk.
Recent climate studies show the Los Angeles region is getting hotter and predict that trend will continue. By mid-century, Los Angeles could see a 3-7°F temperature increase1. With increasing extreme heat events, Los Angeles can expect to see more public health impacts like heat stroke, respiratory problems and premature deaths.
We must look to innovative urban design solutions to cool our cities and protect communities.
Urban greening (planting trees and vegetation) can help lower temperatures through shade and evaporative cooling. And greater use of reflective surfaces and building materials can combat urban heat by lowering the amount of heat buildings and pavement absorb. These effective solutions have already been proven around the world.
There is an urgent need for more information to inform strategies to save Angelenos from extreme heat events. While the risks and available solutions are generally understood, more data is needed to help prioritize high-risk neighborhoods and populations so protections can be put in place.
The question we are ultimately seeking to answer is: How can we best prepare the most heat-vulnerable communities in Los Angeles to protect themselves against extreme heat, and which cooling strategies can efficiently and effectively save lives?
The LA Urban Cooling Collaborative - Planning for a Hotter LA
The Los Angeles Urban Cooling Collaborative is embarking on a multi-year project to comprehensively study the drivers and solutions to the challenge of urban heat in Los Angeles. We’ll do this in three phases:
Evaluating Heat Risk by Neighborhoods, and How Greening and Cooling Strategies Can Save Lives
The LAUCC will work primarily with the Synoptic Climatology Laboratory in the University of Miami School of Public Health to complete a comprehensive modeling study of current and projected heat in Los Angeles neighborhoods. The study will quantify the health impacts and evaluate the benefits of various urban greening and cooling scenarios to lower temperatures and prevent heat-induced illnesses and deaths.
The goal of Phase 1:
Determine how an increase in vegetation and albedo (reflectivity) within Los Angeles County can lead to a cooler environment in summer
A decrease in the number of oppressive air mass days which lead to elevated mortality
A significant decrease in heat-related mortality totals
Examining social and heat-risk vulnerabilities, and determining strategies to promote equity and climate justice
Researchers from California State University, Northridge (CSUN) will model how health disparities such as chronic illnesses, as well as heat-related morbidity and mortality, are impacted by multiple factors. The focus areas include tree canopy and vegetation rates, housing conditions, access to healthy food, access to health services, and behavioral factors such as health knowledge and culturally-influenced health decision-making. Insights from Phase 2 will reveal the many barriers beyond canopy and reflectivity coverage that impact communities’ vulnerabilities to extreme heat events, and will provide critical information to design more impactful public health interventions.
The goal of Phase 2:
Project impacts to health outcomes resulting from different policy and programmatic changes in tree canopy and reflectivity at the neighborhood level
Identify key barriers to effectively increase tree canopy and reflectivity in target neighborhoods.
Designing and Applying Community and Policy Interventions
Community partners TreePeople, Climate Resolve and Global Cool Cities Alliance will use the data and insights developed through Phases 1 and 2 to craft and pilot urban design interventions to prioritize urban greening and reflectivity strategies. We will work directly with the City and County of Los Angeles and with identified communities in neighborhoods to design and retrofit neighborhoods with expanded urban canopy and reflective surfaces. This pilot effort will study the effectiveness of these solutions on reducing asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and heat-related morbidity and mortality. Findings will inform local policy and engagement to cool Los Angeles, and broader implications will be drawn for urban areas around the US and the world.
Jonathan Fielding, MD, MPH, MBA, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA | UCLA Fielding School of Public Health | Former Director of Public Health and Health Officer, LA County
Southern California Association of Governments
1. Dr. Alex Hall, “Climate Change in the Los Angeles Region: Temperature Results,” UCLA Dept. of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, 2013. http://web.atmos.ucla.edu/csrl/docs/Hall-LA_temp_study_fact_sheet-Dec2013.pdf