With temperatures rising to a record breaking high this July in the UK, how can we combat the effects of the Urban Heat Island (UHI) and climate change?

What is the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect?

The term ‘Urban Heat Island’ describes built-up areas, such as city centres, that are significantly hotter than the surrounding open and rural areas. The UHI effect occurs on the earth’s surface and in the atmosphere, taking place via absorption of incident radiation from the sun by built structures and surfaces such as tall buildings, hard roofs and asphalt roads. This absorbed incident radiation is then released in the form of heat.

How are GL Hearn supporting our clients to prevent the UHI effect and climate change?

We support our clients to realise positive planning outcomes, from planning new spaces to focusing on the future of existing ones. We help them to deliver better spaces and to protect the environment through their approach to planning, design and sustainable development.

In 2022 alone, our national team of landscape architects have designed and delivered projects that provide more than 701 trees and 37,901 m2 of soft landscaping, that involves using plants, flowers, and other natural elements to help reduce the UHI and combat climate change, creating resilient spaces that people want to be a part of.

During extreme weather conditions, such as those we are currently experiencing, hard landscape and built form increases the local temperatures by up to 5°C. The introduction of soft landscape cools our spaces, absorbing and not reflecting heat. By incorporating green, treed, and open spaces composed of vegetation and moisture-trapping soil into our designs, a large proportion of absorbed radiation is then released via evapotranspiration, the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil and transpiration from plants, causing a cooling effect to the air around us.

Get in touch with Julian Woolley, our National Landscape Design Director, to discuss how we can help you today.