Capital Region Urban Heat Island Mitigation Project


Extreme heat is a critical issue facing the Sacramento region and is projected to worsen as climate change intensifies. The transportation sector, with its miles of highways, roads, and other paved surfaces, is a key contributor to the urban heat island (UHI) effect, but is also in turn vulnerable to extreme heat.

This project will build a detailed model of the UHI effect for the Sacramento region and develop localized UHI mitigation measures and recommendations, focusing on the transportation sector and communities most vulnerable to heat. The Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District (SMAQMD) is the lead agency on the project, scheduled for May 2018 to February 2020.

Community engagement and outreach, particularly with disadvantaged communities, is a core part of the project. The project team will gather input from vulnerable communities on their transportation needs, concerns, and priorities, with the findings to inform all aspects of the project and serve as a resource for other planning projects.

Key Outcomes

Key outcomes will include a UHI model for the Sacramento region identifying areas most affected by extreme heat and analyzing the effectiveness of a range of heat mitigation measures. These findings will be translated into strategies and recommendations for incorporation into current and future transportation plans, projects, design guidelines, and codes, ensuring that resilience is built into all future investments. Participating agencies will gain a clear understanding of heat-related risks, transportation system vulnerabilities, community concerns, and strategies and actions to reduce UHI. The goal is to provide a blueprint to transform the transportation system from being a heat source to an urban cooling solution, reduction regional UHI while prolonging infrastructure lifespan, supporting active transportation, reducing GHG emissions, and improving air quality.

Supporting California’s Goals

This project supports California’s climate mitigation and adaptation goals as well as its vision of a resilient, multi-modal transportation system. Planning for extreme heat and UHI reduction can achieve regional cooling that benefits public health, energy savings, improved air quality, stormwater absorption, groundwater recharge, and improved public spaces.

For the transportation sector, planning for extreme heat helps to improve system-wide infrastructure resilience, reduce lifecycle maintenance and repair costs, and ensures that future investments are designed to be heat-resilient at the outset. Building heat island mitigation into local transportation documents can ensure that they become embedded into planning and decision making at local agencies.

This project also supports the California Transportation Plan 2040’s goals of a vibrant multi-modal transportation system. As temperatures increase, tree shading over walking paths, shaded bus shelters, public water fountains, cool pavements, green infrastructure, and other measures will be necessary to support alternative transportation, reduce UHI, and protect the health and safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users.

Lead Agency and Partnerships