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City and Community to Map Urban Heat Island Inequities

Data from the project will provide a roadmap to alleviate climate disparities

The City of Albuquerque is joining the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) — a joint NOAA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention effort — NOAA’s Climate Program Office, and CAPA Strategies LLC to execute a new community-led campaign to map urban heat inequities this summer. Albuquerque will join eight other major cities including San Diego, San Francisco, Atlanta, Brooklyn, and others in mapping urban heat in each city and work toward equitable climate resilience.

Urban Heat Islands are places where buildings, pavement, and other parts of urban environments amplify high temperatures compared to nearby vegetated areas, putting people at heightened risk of illness and death during extreme heat events.

Using heat sensors mounted on their own cars or bikes, community volunteers will traverse their neighborhoods morning, afternoon, and evening on one of the hottest days of the year. The sensors will record temperature, humidity, time, and the volunteers’ location every second. By working with communities, the project will raise awareness among volunteers and residents about heat risk, incorporate local perspectives to produce heat maps, and engage communities in pursuing solutions.

“Extreme heat is a real threat we face as the climate continues to change,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “And it’s worse in some neighborhoods than in others, especially in communities of color, because of longstanding inequities. By mapping out this heat data alongside eight major cities, we can make sure our path forward on climate change and climate justice takes equity into account.”

With more detail than possible with satellite data alone, the local maps will help the City identify where it can act to protect vulnerable neighborhoods now and in the future from extreme heat risk. More information including a request for volunteers to execute the campaign will come this summer.

This builds on the Keller administration’s substantial work to date on sustainability, including:

  • Won a $2.7 million federal grant to bring the first electric buses to Albuquerque,
  • Signed the Paris Agreement committing to climate action,
  • Installed 38 solar projects at city-owned buildings,
  • Launched the Green Team to expand sustainability across departments,
  • Launched the Mayor’s Energy Challenge to support local businesses reduce energy use,
  • Won Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge with funding for sustainability efforts,
  • Made the transition to more sustainable LED street lights citywide,
  • Provided over 200 homes with free energy audits and upgrades in partnership with PNM, Partnership for Community Action and Prosperity Works,
  • Partnered with PNM to launch the Solar Direct project to get to achieve over 80% renewable energy use by Fall 2021,
  • Purchased the first electric vehicles for the City fleet, and enacted a “Zero Emissions First” fleet vehicle adoption policy,
  • Achieved LEED for Cities Silver certification,
  • Ranked 40th on the 2020 City Clean Energy Scorecard—and 5th most improved—by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and
  • Invested $300,000 in VW settlement funding to add 18 electric charging stations in Albuquerque by Summer 2021.