Urban Heat Resilience

PAS QuickNotes 95

By Ladd Keith, Sara Meerow


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Heat is the deadliest weather-related hazard in the United States, posing a growing and inequitable threat to human health, infrastructure, and economic and ecological systems. Communities are getting hotter due to climate change and the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Cities across the country must prepare for unprecedented heat and address systemic inequities in heat risk.

Planners considering urban heat resilience should work to help their communities equitably prepare for  and adapt to both chronic and acute heat risk through heat mitigation and management. Heat mitigation includes design and planning strategies that aim to reduce the built environment’s contribution to urban heat, whereas heat management strategies prepare for and respond to heat. 

This edition of PAS QuickNotes explains national trends in extreme heat and describes how planners can enhance urban heat resilience for their communities through planning and implementing heat mitigation and management strategies.


Page Count
Date Published
Aug. 1, 2021
American Planning Association

About the Authors

Ladd Keith
Ladd Keith, Ph.D. is an interdisciplinary researcher working at the intersection of urban planning and climate change to create more sustainable and resilient cities. With over a decade of experience working with diverse stakeholders in cities across the U.S. solving complex urban challenges, he is particularly interested in research that informs practice. His current research explores the emergent planning, design, and governance of cities for extreme heat. He also founded and leads the Sustainable Built Environments degree program which is offered in-person, fully online, and at the Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas in Lima, Peru. Dr. Keith served a full eight-year term on the City of Tucson Planning Commission and was chair during the creation and adoption of the General Sustainability Plan. He is an active member of the American Planning Association and serves as an academic liaison for the Arizona Chapter. He is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute and has served on the Sustainable Development Council, was a founding advisory board member of the Center for Sustainability and Economic Performance, has chaired several Advisory Service Panels, and was recognized as one of ULI's 40 under 40.

Sara Meerow
Dr. Sara Meerow is an Assistant Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning at Arizona State University. Her research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of urban geography and planning and focus on the challenge of how to make cities more resilient in the face of climate change and other social and environmental hazards while also making them more sustainable and just.