Grey to Green 2: Concrete Data – Solutions to the Urban Heat Island Effect will be held March 23 in Dallas. Photo courtesy of Dustin Phillips.

March 3, 2017

Roads, rooftops and parking lots are heating Dallas up almost 20 degrees hotter than land outside of the city says a new study by the Texas Trees Foundation.

The startling temperature difference is among several findings of the organization’s recent study to be revealed during the organization’s Grey to Green 2: Concrete Data – Solutions to the Urban Heat Island Effect presentation set for Thursday, March 23, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dallas Scottish Rite Temple in Dallas at 500 South Harwood St. 

Focusing on a phenomenon known the urban heat island effect, the heat island study indicates that not only is Dallas hotter than surrounding areas, the city is also losing money, talent and business because of its failure to address the problem caused by paving over huge swaths of land without measures to mitigate the heat-trapping effect of concrete and asphalt. 

“In simple terms, the earth today is full of dense cities with roofs, roads and parking lots. These dark surfaces trap the heat from the sun and release it back, causing those areas to be hotter than surrounding areas that have more trees and green space,” says Matt Grubisich, director of operations for the foundation.

Grubisich says too few know about the heat island effect and how it diminishes the health and overall quality of life for city dwellers. The presentation is intended raise awareness about the problem that has mostly been ignored.

“The symposium is geared toward practitioners in the fields of urban planning, landscape architecture, urban forestry, health care industry, universities, corporate sustainability officers, insurance agencies, realtors and anyone that has an interested in making Dallas a greener, cleaner, cooler place to live,” he says.

Grubisich says too few know about the heat island effect and how it diminishes the health and overall quality of life for city dwellers.

The study was conducted by Dr. Brian Stone in conjunction with Georgia Tech School of City and Regional Planning and the Urban Climate Lab. Stone will present the research findings during the symposium, followed by a report on the the health impacts of an increasingly urban environment presented by Dr. Jason Vargo from the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Maria Koetter, who is the sustainability director for the city of Louisville, will show how Louisville took on the issue of combating the urban heat island effect in the city.

Steven Spears, a partner with the community planning firm, Design Workshop, will speak about how to incorporate green infrastructure into an urban environment to address the urban heat island effect, storm water management and related issues.

“We are trying to connect the dots in people’s minds that the tree everyone fights to park under in the middle of August does so much more than just keep your car cool while you're picking up your groceries,” says Grubisich.

Grubisich will conclude the symposium with a look at how the Texas Trees Foundation is addressing these issues and will present other local strategies and policies that are on the table.

As much as 35 percent of the land in Dallas is paved over. The study used climate modeling data to explore just how much the city suffers from its concrete landmass and how the effects of so much concrete can be mitigated by planting trees and opening up more space to greenery, says researcher Dr. Brian Stone.

“We are making use of a regional climate model to simulate the effects of specific heat mitigation and tree loss scenarios on temperature and humidity. Given that there are only a handful of weather stations in Dallas, which only record temperatures under current conditions, only a climate model provides a basis to simulate how the addition or loss of tree canopy may influence temperatures,” Stone says.

“We generally find both the addition of tree canopy and cool materials to measurably lower temperatures across Dallas,” Stone adds.

Admittance to the symposium costs $100, with a continental breakfast, lunch and breakout sessions with speakers included. Those who attend will learn of the design strategies and city planning policies that must be implemented to mitigate the heat island effect and curb Dallas’ position as the second fastest warming city in the nation.

“We are trying to connect the dots in people’s minds that the tree everyone fights to park under in the middle of August does so much more than just keep your car cool while you're picking up your groceries,” says Grubisich.

“People don’t understand what the urban heat island is and more importantly how it affects us on a day-to-day basis. How heat affects everything from public health to economics to the power grid - and even the lifespan of our roads and other infrastructure are all tied together. Hopefully this day will start to shed some light on this issue and make people more aware that trees do more, much more.”

Grey to Green 2: Concrete Data - Solutions to the Urban Heat Island Effect

About: Symposium to discuss consequences of and solutions for Dallas' urban heat island problem, featuring five experts.In addition,  David Finfrock, NBC 5 Chief Meterologist, will kick off the conference by talking about local weather patterns and what he has seen over his career locally in the DFW area. 

Hosted by: Texas Trees Foundation

When: March 23, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Dallas Scottish Rite Temple, 500 South Harwood St., Dallas

Cost: $100, includes continental breakfast, lunch and breakout sessions

Website

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