Identifying strategies for a cooler Scottsdale

Heat remains one of our region’s top sustainability challenges, with far-reaching impacts on health, infrastructure, environment and economic well-being. That’s why Scottsdale City Council will discuss the development of the city’s first Heat Mitigation Plan at a council work session on Sept. 13, along with details about the Scottsdale Sustainability Plan 2022.

In 2020, Scottsdale partnered with Arizona State University to assess patterns of urban heat in the city and identify promising cool strategies. The results of the studylinks to external site are outlined in a StoryMaplinks to external site, which explains the basics of heat impacts in Scottsdale, one way scientists assess urban heat, examples of areas with the hottest and coolest surface temperatures and strategies and goals for heat mitigation.

“Scottsdale is strengthening its efforts to respond to increasingly hot summers,” said Scottsdale Mayor David D. Ortega. “Our data-driven approach will find solutions that are focused in areas most vulnerable to rising temperatures and work for all of our residents, businesses and visitors.”

ASU’s Rob and Melanie Walton Sustainability Solutions Services and the Urban Climate Research Center conducted field experiments to measure heat in growth areas with a special mobile weather station called MaRTy. Many variables can impact how people experience heat in their environment including air temperature, surface temperature, humidity, wind speed and radiation from the sun. MaRTy measures the Mean Radiant Temperature, which quantifies the heat load on the human body and gauges how someone may experience heat. Thermal images were also captured from a helicopter to evaluate heat at different times.

Results show that Scottsdale’s Indian Bend Wash Greenbelt - the iconic 11-mile corridor of parks, lakes, paths and golf courses, - is home to some of the lowest surface temperatures in the city, while Scottsdale Road between Old Town and south Scottsdale is an example of a hot area. This two-mile stretch is home to many popular stores and services but has comparatively little tree cover and natural landscaping. 

“Taking care of our city’s trees and expanding the tree canopy in all neighborhoods should be the backbone of Scottsdale’s heat mitigation plan,” said Scottsdale Environmental Advisory Commission Chair Natalie Chrisman Lazarr. “A comprehensive approach that also includes other important measures related to the built environment and support for our residents aligns with the vision to create a more sustainable Scottsdale.”

To help identify opportunities for mitigating heat in parts of the city that are currently developed and/or expected to see additional development in the coming years, the study focused on the Airpark, Old Town Scottsdale and McDowell/Scottsdale roads. Due to their continuing growth and development, these three growth areas are excellent locations to consider heat mitigation strategies.

After analyzing the data, the project team identified three recommended goals along with a list of 29 specific strategies that the city might pursue for heat mitigation to help the city become a cooler and more comfortable place for residents and visitors. 

Three broad goals:

1. Increase tree canopy in the city
2. Reduce the land area of exposed dark asphalt, dark roofs, and other hot surfaces
3. Improve and increase pedestrian shade amenities

Possible specific strategies:

Develop a comprehensive urban forestry master plan
Create new tree planting and preservation requirements
Define staff responsibilities related to heat mitigation
Pilot test cool pavement materials
Provide more shade near bicycle racks and water fountains

These goals and strategies are a starting point for the development of the draft plan.
Scottsdale invites residents to share ideas and feedback about heat response and the proposed recommendations for achieving a cooler city. Read the StoryMaplinks to external site and fill out this formlinks to external site.

For more information, visit and search “Heat Mitigation Plan."


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