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.
Sign up for the Healthy Places newsletter to stay updated on the project. You will learn about ways to get involved and receive the latest information on the:
- Heat Resilience Study
- Urban Forest Plan
- Open Space and Recreation Plan
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
- native and tribal communities
- the very young and very old
- 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.
The Heat Resilience Study
Everyone in Boston experiences heat due to climate change. But we know that some residents experience more intense heat than others.
The study focuses on areas where heat islands overlap with historically underserved communities. The goal is to find creative and community-driven solutions. These solutions will protect from the effects of climate change.
- strengthen policies and programs needed to reduce urban heat and heat risk
- address current and future impacts of extreme urban heat
- integrate existing preparedness, public health, and racial equity initiatives, and
- inform citywide solutions for heat resilience.
How you can get involved
Are you looking for ways to support climate action in your neighborhood? Join the City of Boston's Environment Department for a virtual beat the heat workshop on Wednesday, September 22, at 6 p.m. We want to hear your ideas about climate change and heat resilience in Boston!
Map your experience
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 you friends, family, and neighbors.
Heat Vulnerable Focus AreasFocus areas
More project resourcesResources
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:
The City has assembled a Community Advisory Board (CAB) to help guide the heat resilience planning. CAB representatives are key partners in shaping an inclusive planning and design process. In collaboration with the CAB, we hope to create a plan that represents community-supported values and objectives and that can be carried forward to implementation to reduce heat risk in all neighborhoods.
The CAB will collaborate 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.
The Steering Committee helps guide the heat resilience planning process alongside the Heat Resilience Study Community Advisory Board. Specifically, the Steering Committee:
- evaluates preliminary results and proposals
- shares detailed priorities and interest
- serves as a sounding board for proposals
- builds consensus around strategies, and
- develops solutions for implementation.