Equitable Heat-Resilience in Neighborhoods: Developing and Applying an Urban Modeling Interface to Assess Strategies to Mitigate the Impact of Extreme Temperature Events

The purpose of the proposed research is to extend an existing urban modeling interface (Umi) developed at MIT to provide urban planners (in private practice or in government agencies) with evidence-based assessments of measures intended to mitigate life-threatening extreme heat events. These events are increasingly common, are made more severe by a combination of regional climate change and the urban heat island effect, disproportionately impact low- and middle-income urban inhabitants and are exacerbated by lack of access to space cooling and interrupted supply of needed electricity.

The research will assess the performance of base-case buildings and urban form under current and mid-century-projected heat waves; assess the technical effectiveness and cost of single measures intended to mitigate the impact of urban heat waves; and assess the impact of integrated approaches (urban form, building and urban technologies, inhabitant behavior), with particular attention to heat-vulnerable populations.

Key tasks include the development and testing of software modules that will interact with Umi through an established application interface. These modules will cover urban climate, microgrid operation and load shifting and will be complemented by targeted augmentations to Umi’s existing and otherwise planned building performance and accessibility modules. The enhanced Umi will be demonstrated in a proposed charrette and video tutorials will be prepared.

PI: Leslie Norford, Professor of Building Technology, Department of Architecture and Co-PI: Christoph Reinhart, Professor of Building Technology, Department of Architecture

Funding for this research was provided by the Dar Group Urban Seed Grant Program at the Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

IMAGE: Solar exposure analysis [Credit: Christoph Reinhart].

Spring 2019