Nature Conservancy working on plan to cool Valley neighborhoods

Posted at 4:37 AM, Jun 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-12 11:27:05-04

The Nature Conservancy, in collaboration with other organizations and researchers at ASU, are selecting three Valley neighborhoods for a pilot on how more plants, shade structures and different building materials can reduce heat illness.

"One of the first things we're looking for is a lack of vegetation,” said Urban Conservation Program Manager Maggie Messerschmidt.

“Those concrete jungles really retain heat and it makes a big difference in terms of thermal comfort,” she said.
The Nature Conservancy received $120,000 grant from the Vitalyst Health Foundation to fund the project.

"If we can identify areas where people are more likely to be affected, or where illnesses are more likely to be exacerbated by heat, then we know those are areas where we need to get to work."

Messerschmidt says they’ve been looking at county and state data on heat vulnerability and hospitalizations to determine what neighborhoods they will work on. They’re hoping to make selections by the end of the week.

In a study posted by the National Institutes of Health, central and south Phoenix, and Deer Valley, were the areas with the highest number of heat-related problems.