Urban Heat Resilience

PAS QuickNotes 95

By Ladd Keith, Sara Meerow


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Heat is the deadliest weather-related hazard in the United States, posing a growing and inequitable threat to human health, infrastructure, and economic and ecological systems. Communities are getting hotter due to climate change and the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Cities across the country must prepare for unprecedented heat and address systemic inequities in heat risk.

Planners considering urban heat resilience should work to help their communities equitably prepare for  and adapt to both chronic and acute heat risk through heat mitigation and management. Heat mitigation includes design and planning strategies that aim to reduce the built environment’s contribution to urban heat, whereas heat management strategies prepare for and respond to heat. 

This edition of PAS QuickNotes explains national trends in extreme heat and describes how planners can enhance urban heat resilience for their communities through planning and implementing heat mitigation and management strategies.


Page Count
Date Published
Aug. 1, 2021
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Ladd Keith
<p>Ladd Keith, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the School of Landscape Architecture and Planning at The University of Arizona. An urban planner by training, he has over a decade of experience planning for climate change with diverse stakeholders in cities across the U.S. His current research explores heat planning and governance with funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institute for Transportation &amp; Communities. He served a full term on the City of Tucson&rsquo;s Planning Commission and chaired the development and adoption of the city&rsquo;s comprehensive plan. He also founded and leads the Sustainable Built Environments undergraduate degree program which is offered in person, fully online, and at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas in Lima, Peru. He has a Ph.D. in Arid Lands Resource Sciences and an MS in Planning from The University of Arizona.</p>

Sara Meerow
Sara Meerow, PHD, is an assistant professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University. She is an interdisciplinary scholar who works at the intersection of urban planning and geography to tackle the challenge of making cities more resilient to climate change and other social and environmental hazards in a way that is sustainable and just. Her current research focuses on conceptualizations of urban resilience, climate change adaptation, and green infrastructure planning in a range of cities across the U.S. and internationally. To date she has published 30 articles in academic journals, in addition to several book chapters, reports, and popular press articles on these topics. She has a PhD in Natural Resources and Environment from the University of Michigan and an MS in International Development Studies from the University of Amsterdam.