5 Cities That are Finding Ways to Keep Cool

From increasing the tree canopy to using ancient cooling methods, cities around the globe are cooling down the heat.

Cooling off in a city fountain.

(YuryKara / Shutterstock.com)

Summer time means hot weather and spending time outdoors. But when the temperature soars, it's time for you to get out of the sun and cool down. It’s the same for cities.

The summer of 2023 is shaping up to be the hottest on record, and with many countries around the world on high heat alerts, trying to keep cool is not that easy, according to Fast Company. In July, 2023, Sanbao ,China hit a high of 52.2 degrees Celsius (126 Fahrenheit) and in the Middle East, the heat index soared to 66.7 Celsius (152 Fahrenheit) in Iran.

With temperatures like that, It is very clear that cities have to find innovative ways to beat the heat. Here are five cities that are using creative ways to cool down that range from urban spritzers to using ancient cooling techniques in new buildings.

New York is Painting Roofs White

Adding a white coating to roofs can help reflect up to 90 percent of the sunlight and this will cool interiors and reduce the need for air conditioning. Using this technique can cool down the 40 square miles of rooftop space in Manhattan, reported New York Intelligencer.

The black asphalt on many of the buildings can reach very high temperatures on hot days and traps the heat inside. There is new technology like the whitest white paint that can help reduce heat. Through the NYC CoolRoofs program, the city has already reduced the temperature on 6 million square feet of rooftops and is requiring new rooftops to be white. This can cool the city’s temperature by 2 degrees.

White roofs reflect heat.

(jorgeflorez / Shutterstock.com)

Arnhem is Shrinking Roads

The city of Arnhem in the Netherlands has created a plan to help tackle extreme heat in the summer by changing the way it thinks about roads, reported Fast company. That’s because the more pavement that covers a city, the larger the heat effect is. Roads absorb the heat from the sun during the day and release it at night.

By looking at road use, the city plans on reducing the number of lanes on underused roads and replacing asphalt with greenery. Arnhem is also planting trees along bike paths and sidewalks to create more shade and planning more shade-filled parks for people to use to cool down in.

Fewer lanes of roadway means less heat.

(Fokko Erhart / Shutterstock.com)

Abu Dhabi is Using Ancient Cooling Systems

Abu Dhabi is located in the desert where temperatures regularly soar to 49 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit). To help beat the heat, some buildings are turning to ancient techniques for staying cool with a  modern technology twist.

The Al Bahar towers are covered with shades that were inspired by the latticed screens used in Islamic architecture to keep the heat out. The shades are built with senses that allow the screens to unfold when it is sunny and this can reduce air conditioning use by 50 percent.

Al Bahar towers.

(Mr.YOGEN / Shutterstock.com)

Planting Trees in Dallas

Places that have fewer tree canopies are hotter and this usually affects lower income neighborhoods disproportionately to the tune of a 10-degree Fahrenheit (12.2 Celsus)  difference. This has been the case for Dallas, Texas, reported Spectrum Local News. That’s why the city is committed to growing its canopy which is unevenly distributed. The plan is to plant 14.7 million trees and bring the tree canopy coverage up to 37 percent by 2040.

The more trees a city has, the cooler it will be. Besides decreasing temperatures, trees can provide stormwater mitigation, improve air quality, and help to better the health of residents. All of this is vitally important as the summer temperatures continue to climb as part of the effects of climate change.

Planting trees to cool the city down.

(89stocker / Shutterstock.com)

Tokyo Uses Urban Spritzes

In Japan there is a tradition of uchimizu, the practice of sprinkling water on sidewalks and gardens to keep city streets clean and cool, reported New York Intelligencer. This tradition that dates back to the Edo period is being revived in modern Tokyo. The city has added mist machines to supplement individual practice. The misters at Tokyo Station City cool the air temperature by 5 degrees.

Street spritzer in Tokyo.

(Ned Snowman / Shutterstock.com)