The city of Phoenix, AZ has created a Heat Response and Mitigation Office to address the growing issue of urban heat. David Hondula, Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences at Arizona State University will be heading the office.
“Addressing the public health and environmental challenges posed by extreme heat is a key priority, and a central component of our city’s efforts to address climate change,” said Mayor Kate Gallego. “Already, Phoenix is recognized as a leader in cooling strategies and support for heat vulnerable residents, and this investment is reflective of Phoenix’s continued commitment to develop innovative solutions to ensure our city’s health and livability. I welcome the wealth of knowledge Dr. Hondula brings to this new role. Under his leadership, this office will work across departments and with external partners to build the vision of a cooler, more sustainable Phoenix, and to develop and implement the tangible actions it will take to achieve it.”
The Office’s first task will be to establish a strategic action plan to address the growing hazard of urban heat, which threatens the City’s economic viability, along with the health and well-being of vulnerable residents.
“David is not only an expert in the science of heat but is passionate about the strategies designed to combat the impact of rising temperatures,” said City Manager Ed Zuercher. “Urban heat is a growing hazard for all our residents, particularly our most vulnerable communities. David brings the forward-thinking approach for a sustainable environment for all city residents.”
In the past, Phoenix has had a number of initiatives to combat problems of high temperatures, including: HeatReady – which treats heat readiness like hurricane readiness and heat waves like temperature tsunamis. It alerts residents with text notifications and offers emergency cooling centers; and, Nature’s Cooling Systems – which worked to redesign low-income neighborhoods hit hardest by heat by projects such as tree planting.