Researchers at the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) have received a grant from Houston Endowment to create a “Cooler Houston Implementation Plan,” a strategy aimed at reducing urban heat island effect.

HARC project director David Hitchcock explained that urban areas like Houston are normally 5¿ to 9¿F hotter than surrounding areas. This heat island effect contributes not only to discomfort but also to higher energy bills. Hitchcock says that recent meteorological modeling is showing that urban temperatures can be reduced significantly.

Hitchcock said that there are strategies that are already working in other communities that will work in Houston. These include major tree planting projects, use of reflective roofing, and other cooler building materials. He added that the Quality of Life Coalition, Houston Green Coalition, and other groups are actively addressing the need for expanding the region’s tree canopy.

— Greg Mazurkiewicz

Publication date: 06/24/2002