Green Spaces Cool Down Urban Temperatures Better than Air Conditioning

Cities around the world face a climate crisis. Rising temperatures combine with concrete surfaces to increase the power of the sun.

The hottest temperature in Phoenix came on June 26, 1990. It was 122°F (50°C) that day, but the city didn’t come to a stop.

The streets were even hotter, with temperatures exceeding 170°F (76°C) at ground level.

One city decided to take a different approach to their summer cooling needs. Instead of promoting air conditioner use, Medellin decided to fight Colombia’s hot temperatures by planting more green spaces.

The City Lowered Temperatures by 2°C

Officials in Medellin decided to plant over 30 green corridors across their urban landscape. They focused on the areas with the least amount of these spaces as a way to combat the summer temperatures.

The efforts created a 2°C reduction that the city’s residents could feel immediately. It is a small but meaningful change that creates power savings from less extensive air conditioning use.

Urban parks have replicated this result all over the world. Milan suffered rolling power outages in 2019 because of the amount of air conditioning being used by its residents. They plan to plant three million trees by 2050 to begin conserving power.

An encouragement to build more green roofs can cut energy usage by up to 15%. In cities with abundant sunshine, such as Athens, this effort could reduce high cooling loads for some buildings by more than two-thirds.

Medellin won the 2019 Ashden Award for Cooling by Nature Award for their efforts at reducing their heat island through these efforts.



Share this story with your network