EPA’s Reducing Urban Heat Islands: Compendium of Strategies
Urban areas are usually warmer than their rural surroundings, a phenomenon known as the “heat island effect.” As cities develop, more vegetation is lost and more surfaces are paved or covered with buildings. The change in ground cover results in less shade and moisture to keep urban areas cool. Built-up areas also evaporate less water, which contributes to elevated surface and air temperatures. Properties of urban materials, in particular solar reflectance, thermal emissivity, and heat capacity, also influence the development of urban heat islands, as they determine how the sun’s energy is reflected, emitted, and absorbed.