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Tempe takes Climate Action with first Heat Walk

Takes place at The Cloud at Kiwanis Park in Tempe on Saturday, Sept 21

Post Date:09/20/2019 4:17 PM

Tempe, AZ – The City of Tempe and Arizona State University is conducting Tempe's first Heat Walk on Saturday, Sept. 21 at The Cloud at Kiwanis Park (5233 S. Ash Ave) at Noon. Open to the public, this event tackles climate action by addressing extreme heat with residents and ASU researchers.

The Heat Walk is a community event meant to help us understand how Tempe residents experience heat in our parks, multiuse paths and neighborhoods. Please come at noon for registration with drinks and snacks. The walk begins at 12:30 p.m. The walk takes place in the surrounding neighborhood with ASU heat researchers. The goal is to find ways to help keep Tempe cooler.

Tempe Director of Sustainability, Braden Kay said “Pew Charitable Trusts and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have brought a dream team of ASU professors to work with residents and city staff to develop solutions to extreme heat. We are targeting playgrounds, multiuse paths, parking lots and arterial walls to ensure we build this infrastructure in a way that keeps Tempeans cooler and supports public health and our high quality of life in Tempe.”

Extreme heat has gained recent attention as a deadly force in Maricopa County. Maricopa heat related deaths have broken records in the last several years, with 154 deaths in 2016, 179 deaths in 1027 and 282 deaths in 2018. By comparison, the average of heat related death from 2006-2015 was 78.

ASU researchers and city officials want to address the broad range of public health issues our regions increasing extreme heat can worsen. Heat can effect Arizonans and Tempeans’ health beyond fatalities. Saturday's heat walk in Tempe is an innovative way that city staff, researchers and community members can understand the effect of heat on public health and how solutions can be developed to build city infrastructure to less the impact resident exposure to heat. 

 “The experiential approach to data collection from the Heat Walk will be used in the upcoming climate action co-design workshop later this fall,” said Paul Coseo, Assistant Professor, Sustainability Scientist, and Licensed Landscape Architect at Arizona State University’s Design School. “The Heat Walkers contribution will inform how the city should make investments for cooling now and into the future.”

Specialized heat sensing equipment will be used during the Heat Walk.  Ariane Middel, Assistant Professor of ASU’s School of Arts, Media and Engineering said “The heat walkers will be accompanied by MaRTy. MaRTy is a mobile weather station that measures the heat load on the human body. As the heat-walkers traverse through the park, they will experience a variety of thermal conditions, from tree-shaded paths to sunny sidewalks. MaRTy will help measure those conditions.”

 “One of the main ways the youngest residents in our community experience high temperatures and sun exposure is on playgrounds,” said Jenni Vanos, PhD, Senior Sustainability Scientist Global Institute of Sustainability, Affiliate Faculty School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “Our research and data collected at this event will help guide playground retrofits in Tempe, ensuring that we have the right shade in the right place to keep children safe from the sun and heat, and extend the safe playable periods throughout the day in the warm season.”

Dave Hondula, ASU Assistant Professor, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning said “Tempe is setting a model for cities across the world with its proactive approach to managing extreme heat. Heat is a critical hazard for cities to address but often falls between different staff members' and departments' official responsibilities, and thus doesn't receive enough resources or attention. It is exciting and encouraging to see Tempe put heat at the forefront of the Climate Action Plan process and the creative ways the city is engaging residents on the topic, including with its first Heat Walk this weekend.”

For more information about Dr. Kay and Sustainable Tempe, visit

Media contact: Shannon Reed, City of Tempe, 480-639-9045

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