In the summer of 2021, record-breaking extreme heat events struck communities across the world. The unprecedented U.S. Pacific Northwest and Western Canadian heat wave took communities by surprise. Records were broken across the region, from larger cities such as Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver to smaller towns like Lytton in British Columbia. Lytton hit 121°F (49.5°C), the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada, and then tragically, was destroyed when a wildfire swept through the drought and heat-stressed forest a few days later. Record-breaking heat waves also struck historically hotter climates like the U.S. Southwest, where records were broken in cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson. As average global temperatures rise, heat is increasing. T his includes the frequency, length, and intensity of extreme heat events, such as heat waves, and the threat of chronic heat. Heat is already the number one weather-related killer in the United States, and heat impacts are projected to increase as temperatures continue to rise. While extreme heat events are dangerous everywhere, in climates that are already hot, chronic hot temperatures are an equally dangerous threat, often leading to more heat deaths than recognized extreme heat events. Heat also affects communities’ quality of life, local economic activity, energy and water use, wildlife, vegetation and landscaping, infrastructure, and agriculture. These negative consequences disproportionately affect marginalized residents and those who face systematic inequities such as workplace safety, housing quality, energy affordability, transportation reliability, and healthcare access. Both climate change and the urban heat island (UHI) effect, in which the form and function of the built environment make urban areas hotter than their rural and natural surroundings, are contributing to these rising heat risks. The way communities are planned, including land uses that shape the built environment, influences both the emission of greenhouse gases that create climate change and the UHI effect. Because planning shapes heat risk, and the profession has a responsibility to foster equity and inclusion, planners will be key practitioners in helping their communities pursue approaches and strategies to achieve greater heat resiliency. Urban heat resilience means proactively mitigating and managing urban heat across the many systems and sectors it affects. This PAS Report, Planning for Urban Heat Resilience, seeks to elevate heat as a climate risk in the urban planning profession. The report lays out the complexity of heat, outlines the role of planners in equitably addressing heat, and presents a framework for how planners can mitigate and manage heat across a variety of plans, policies, and actions.

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