Addressing the urban heat island phenomenon

Commercial ArchitectureOne of the most challenging things about living in some cities is how hot they can get. The abundance of concrete, tarmac and other heat trapping materials can make them much hotter than rural areas. This is a phenomenon known as the urban heat island. It is something that many property owners need to address, especially when it comes to large pieces of commercial architecture. The scale of these buildings means they can contribute a huge amount to the heat.

How bad is it?

There are some cities where the urban heat island makes the city surprisingly hotter. For example, in London temperatures can be 10 degrees Celsius higher than suburban and rural settings. In cities like Las Vegas, Albuquerque, and Denver in the US, it can be even hotter.

What is the issue?

The urban heat island can cause a huge array of issues. The four worst ones are:

  • Higher energy consumption – because people will use air conditioning and fans more often.
  • Higher emissions and more air pollution – this is a knock on affect of using more energy.
  • Health affects – excessive heat in urban areas can cause more illnesses and deaths.
  • A reduction of water quality – the higher temperatures can affect the water quality in rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and more. As a result it can harm aquatic life and humans.

What to do?

It can be incredibly difficult to tackle the issue with urban heating. However, good commercial architecture can make a difference. Here architects can be more thoughtful with the materials they use. For example they could opt for ones that don’t absorb or reflect a lot of heat. They could also be careful when thinking about landscaping.

Another good option is to create more green roofs and living walls. The plants are much better at regulating heat. At the same time they can work to boost biodiversity and the air quality. This can improve the urban setting.

Talk to us about commercial architecture

Coffey Architects is a team that knows just how much of an impact a good piece of architecture can have. We strive to make sure every building we design will do just that. As a result, we are careful with designs and always work closely with the client. In many cases it is also good to speak to other stakeholders, including local residents, to get their input.

So, if you are thinking about commercial architecture and want it to help make an area a nicer place to spend time, talk to us. We would love to work with you.