Designing cooler cities

Cheshmehzangi, Ali; Butters, Chris (2018). 'Designing Cooler Cities' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


In our recent published book, titled Designing Cooler Cities, we aimed to highlight some of the issues in regard to the increasing urban heat and its impacts on the people of the low-income countries.

With rising affluence and rapid urbanisation, the energy and climatic, as well as, health impacts of cities is of increasing importance. Much of this intensive urban growth is in the hot climate developing countries, not least in Asia. The quest for 'sustainable' cities has led to innovative and successful solutions that offer better living quality along with greatly reduced environmental impacts. Due partly to a lack of resources, less has to date been done in developing countries and hot climates. The largest energy and climatic challenge in these cities is that of cooling. Our urban environment determines indoor climate and wellbeing, as well, as outdoor comfort and public health. Whereas tackling the issue of heat in cities is our focus, sustainable development is essentially about quality of life, for both people and for the environment, both now and in the future. Seen as a whole – which it must be – the aim is a good balance between all three areas of ecology, economy and society. In the real world, however, economic and socio-political factors often weigh more heavily in decision making than environment. This represents missed opportunities, where growing cities are locking themselves into poor health as well as huge future energy and climate burdens. Yet many sustainable solutions exist already, and do not even necessarily cost more. This applies equally in the field of cooling.

In this session, we aim to discuss the methods of urban cooling from various spatial levels and governance. We intend to highlight the importance of our solutions for the well-being of the society, and of particular the marginalized population whom are vulnerable against heat waves and the increasing urban heat scenarios.

In most major developing cities, the urban poor often reside in crowded communities of impoverished infrastructures and unhealthy living environments and often at the highest risks of deaths and unhealthy situations caused by heat waves. We would like to inform policy makers and shape holistic frameworks to tackle issues of policy conflicts and gaps between planning and implementation in mitigating heat waves, enhancing the resilience of the urban poor, and in areas of environmental protection and poverty alleviation.

We would like to highlight some of the cases, strategies, and paradigms we have introduced in our published book. Our book raises questions about prevalent paradigms of urban development as well as topics relating to urban district cooling solutions, sustainable construction materials, and processes towards effective delivery of sustainable cities. Providing cutting edge insights into hot climate cities in Asia, this text is also pertinent for the study of cities in other world regions, notably in developing countries, and of broad relevance to sustainable urban planning in all contexts.

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