Preparing for heat
Extreme heat has negative impacts on all Bostonians. It affects our health, infrastructure, economic opportunities, and more. But, our most vulnerable residents suffer an unfair heat burden. By prioritizing equitable heat resilience solutions, we can build safer and healthier communities today and for years to come.
Heat Resilience Solutions for Boston provides a citywide framework to prepare Boston for hotter summers. Together, we can build a more just, equitable, and resilient Boston.
Climate change is happening now
There were 22 days over 90 degrees in 2015. By 2030, we could see up to 40 days over 90 degrees. July 2019 was the hottest month on record, and NASA revealed that 2020 was the hottest year to date.
Urban Heat Island Effect
Cities tend to be hotter than more suburban or rural areas. Within Boston, communities experience increased heat in areas with:
- more concrete, steel, and buildings, and
- less trees, grass, and other green spaces.
Scientists call this phenomenon the “urban heat island effect." Climate change increases heat everywhere in Boston. Yet, historically underserved neighborhoods and communities experience more intense heat island effect.
What does extreme heat look like
Extreme heat can often just feel like an inconvenience. But it impacts our systems and day-to-day needs. This can look like:
- more frequent power failures
- tree canopy and green space loss
- reduced air and water quality
- increased medical emergencies and heat-related disease, and
- slow or disrupted transportation infrastructure.
Extreme heat affects us all, but does not affect us all equally. More impacted groups include:
- low-income communities
- communities of color
- indigenous and tribal communities
- infants, children, and older adults
- those who do not have access to cool spaces in the summer
- individuals with chronic illnesses and conditions that worsen with heat exposure, and
- residents in areas with less green space.
Heat Vulnerable Focus AreasFocus areas
How you can get involved
We’ve launched a tool where you can show us:
- hot spots and cool spots you experience, and
- how we can improve future uses
The impacts of extreme heat affect everyone differently. Storytelling can be a creative and powerful way of sharing and understanding one another’s experiences. You can share your story with the Heat Resilience Story Comic Builder.
The Heat Resilience Story Comic Builder allows you to create a character and illustrate what you do to stay cool on hot summer days. When you finish building your comic, share it with your friends, family, and neighbors.
The Heat Plan is working closely with several other initiatives. We issue a joint newsletter called Healthy Places Boston. By signing up, you can get updates on news, events, and opportunities to get involved with the:
- The Heat Plan
- Urban Forest Plan
- Open Space and Recreation Plan
Heat Resilience Resource Guides
Raising awareness of existing resources is a critical part of increasing access to cooling. Communities shared throughout the planning process that consolidated information about how residents can apply heat resilient strategies in their own home and communities will help facilitate strong and healthy communities.
Resource Guides are one-page summaries of existing local resources to stay cool in the heat every summer. They provide information about how to stay cool. You can also find more information for a wide-range of audiences on these three topics:
1. Utilities Assistance Programs:
A summary of what utilities assistance programs are available.
2. Stay Cool At Home:
Five simple ways for people to stay cool at home.
3. Find Cooling in Your Neighborhood:
A summary of where residents can find more information about where they can go to cool down, There's also details on transportation options for older adults and persons with disabilities.
More project resourcesProject Information
We held the second Community Open House on July 14, 2021. We talked about strategy ideas to reduce extreme heat in Boston's neighborhoods.
Review the meeting materials:
Project Steering Committees
The assembled a Community Advisory Board (CAB) to help guide the heat resilience planning. CAB representatives were key partners in shaping an inclusive planning process and a plan that represents community-supported objectives.
The CAB collaborated with the project team to:
- ensure that community priorities are reflected
- help develop and maintain transparency about the planning process
- help honor previous and ongoing work that can help inform this project, and
- inform and help refine the planning process in the interest of representing the diverse perspectives of the entire Boston community.
Planning for heat, trees, and open space
A coordinated planning effort to cool the city, expand the urban forest, and improve the park system.
Urban Forest Plan
Caring for Boston's urban forest
We're planning for the protection and expansion of Boston's urban forest. We want to ensure that the urban forest will be better managed both today and 20 years from now.
Open Space and Recreation Plan
Updating the seven-year plan
A citywide discussion on the many ways in which open space and recreation in Boston can be more responsive to community needs.
Plan for carbon neutrality
Carbon Free Boston is our initiative to become carbon neutral by 2050 by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.