Beware of Being Scorched

ULI

ULI Research Explores Extreme Heat’s Impact on CRE, Urban Development

The Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global real estate organization dedicated to responsible land use and the creation of sustainable, thriving communities, recently published a report, “Scorched: Extreme Heat and Real Estate”. The report explores the impact that rising temperatures and excessive heat waves are having on urban development as well as strategies to mitigate urban heat island effects.

Published with support from The JPB Foundation, “Scorched” examines how extreme heat is emerging as a growing risk factor and planning consideration across the United States. “Scorched” also examines how the real estate industry is responding with design approaches, technologies and new policies to mitigate impacts and help protect human growth. According to the report, the real estate sector can improve resilience to extreme heat through mitigation strategies that reduce temperatures, as well as adaptation tactics to help people and businesses cope with extreme heat.

Some of report’s key takeaways included more cities in the United States are or will be at risk of extreme heat because of climate change and increased urban development; extreme heat is a pressing public health risk, especially for low-income and elderly communities and that cool design strategies, combined with public health and emergency responses can help offset heat-related mortalities. One takeaway real estate-related takeaway was that without intervention, the current and potential future impacts of extremely high temperatures—on real estate developments, infrastructure and the economy—could be substantial.

“Scorched” points to a broad range of options, many of which could also increase property value as amenities, like using light colored surfaces and materials, providing increased shade from built and natural canopies and using, “heat aware” building envelopes and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) choices that stabilize indoor temperatures—even during power outages.

“Real estate developers, designers and public policymakers are increasingly acknowledging the detrimental consequences of extreme heat and are seeking solutions to make buildings, neighborhoods, parks, and other outdoor spaces more adaptable to environmental conditions and comfortable for occupants,” ULI Global Chief Executive Officer W. Edward Walter said in a statement. “This presents an opportunity to reduce climate risk and create better communities in the process.”

Additionally, the report uses several statistics to document extreme heat’s impact as well as the significant potential of strategies to address the issue in the built environment. For example, green roofs can be 30 to 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) cooler than traditionally roofs. “Scorched” also highlights a number of case studies featuring developments that successfully incorporated heat mitigation strategies, such as Bagby Street in Houston, which redeveloped with ample shade trees and rain gardens to help with flood mitigation.

“As extreme heat becomes increasingly prevalent because of the urban heat island effect and climate change, designing for heat and ensuring users’ comfort is likely to become a mainstream concern,” the report says. “This translates into different design and development decisions for buildings, which may need enhanced cooling capacity, and for public spaces and outdoor retail environments that are likely to be used differently in hot weather.”

Publisher’s Note: Look for a more comprehensive piece in the next edition of Connected Real Estate Magazine that will be available at the end of September at http://magazine.connectedREmag.com

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