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Resilience to Extreme Heat

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Extreme heat threatens the health of Tempe residents and this threat will get more severe in the coming decades. Our high temperatures are further exasperated by the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, in which the cement and concrete absorbs heat in the day leading to increased temperatures in the urban center compared to its rural surroundings; this prevents the city from cooling off at night and increases the intensity of the heat during peak hours.


Tempe can improve the city’s resilience to extreme heat by preparing buildings, community spaces, and residential areas for rising summer temperatures.

This can be done by:

  • improving the shade canopy
  •  building resilient energy hubs
  • integrating green infrastructure and green building design into future developments to guarantee the city will be safe as temperatures rise.

Because heat-related injuries are more common among vulnerable groups, from either the heat itself or from pollution made worse with hotter temperatures, it is vital to invest in green buildings, green infrastructure, and heat-relief programs. Tempe must make investments that increase resilience to extreme heat today to improve our quality of life and reduce the worsening impacts of extreme heat.

Performance Measures

Resilience to Extreme Heat

The Office of Sustainability will recommend a new performance measure for resilience to extreme heat to be adopted in Fall 2020. 

Tree and Shade Canopy (4.11)Canopy cover 13.40 percent

Achieve a citywide 25% tree and shade canopy by 2040.

Baseline: 13.00%
Current: 13.4%
Target: 25%


Program Highlight - Urban Forestry Master Plan

Tempe can reach the City Council Performance Measure of a citywide 25% tree and shade canopy by 2040 by increasing our urban forest in three key public spaces: parks and open spaces, streets, and urban hubs. These three areas are cores of commercial and civic activity; as such, therefore transforming these spaces will impact the most residents. Targeting these frequently used areas for strategic tree placement ensures that there is an increase in public space use and that there is an equitable distribution of shade across the city. In addition, growing more of our urban forest supports the 20-minute city Performance Measure, as the city needs to be walkable to improve mobility. The Urban Forestry Master Plan provides the framework to begin cultivating a sustainable urban forest through collaborative engagement among city departments, residents, community groups, and private businesses. In 2019, Tempe hired its first Urban Forester, Richard Adkins. It will be critical to support this position and provide adequate funding for the planting and maintenance of Tempe’s urban forest.

What's Next?

Emergency Manager

The city will on-board a new Emergency Manager, who will pursue our efforts on resilience to extreme heat.

Emergency Management Final Report

Emergency Management Executive Summary

Urban Forester

The city has added a new Urban Forester, who will further invest in Tempe’s urban forest and implement the Urban Forestry Master Plan.

Health Impact Project

The city will work with ASU researchers to develop guidelines for playgrounds, multi-use paths, and parking lots to ensure they do not overly contribute to extreme heat challenges in the city.


The city will continue to look at grants that support investments in resilience to extreme heat, including how Tempe neighborhoods can respond to extreme heat.

Heat Relief

The City of Tempe will examine processes, programs, and procedures around extreme heat, including how and where the city host cooling centers. 

Additional Resources