Development is linked to urban heat according to early results from a scientific study in Penrith in Western Sydney.
Researchers from Western Sydney University (WSU) installed 120 sensors before summer in 2019 at ten locations across Penrith. The sensors recorded temperatures every ten minutes, with more than 46,000 data points collected over a five-week period that began on 12 December 2019.
On 4 January the top recorded temperature in Penrith was 48.9 degrees. Doctor Sebastian Phautsch from WSU said that on that day, temperatures varied across the city.
“Tench Reserve was a relatively cooler 45.2 degrees on that record breaking day, while St Marys reached 48.8 degrees. The difference between the two places is, one is dominated by green and blue infrastructure, while the other has a high proportion of hard urban surfaces,” he said.
“Without trees, summer heat becomes unbearable. In new housing estates where you have small blocks almost completely covered by houses with black roofs, it means there is simply no space to grow a meaningful canopy.
“We therefore need to urgently rethink how we plan, build and live, to make more room for greencover and start using smarter solutions like cool roof technology now in the homes and businesses we build.”
Penrith Mayor, Ross Fowler OAM, said the new data tangibly reinforces how much sustainability decisions in development count in combating urban heat.
“We know anecdotally there can be vast temperature differences across our region, but until now, we’ve lacked evidence to support and correlate this. Collecting heat data this summer will help scientifically inform decision making for our City and tackle rising urban heat,” he said.
He said the data would be used to inform and justify the city’s strategy for addressing urban heat through planning and design.
The full data set will be available in mid 2020.