Urban ‘heat islands can form under a variety of conditions, including during the day or night, in small or large cities, in suburban areas, in northern or southern climates, and in any season.’ Learn about Heat Islands (EPA, 2022)
Urban Heat Severity for US Cities(Trust for Public Land) shows where certain areas of cities -- at a 100' level -- are hotter than the average temperature for that same city as a whole, using data from 2018 and 2019.
View the Extreme Heat Map Tool for land surface temperature data for the Twin Cities metro area. The tool allows users to view results of hypothetical implementation interventions such as targeted tree planting.
The City of Hopkins set out to understand heat vulnerabilities to help the city and residents direct strategies to strengthen the resilience of community members who are most vulnerable to extreme heat. They created a Story Map (City of Hopkins, 2023) to share recommendations for reducing the urban heat island effect.
The National League of Cities provides a tool for Average Heat Wave Risk by City (NLC, 2023) for over 60 U.S. communities to view public bus stops in relation to tree canopy and vulnerable populations.
Engage the community to share their experiences. For example, Climate Resolve asked bus riders to ‘vote’ for the hottest bus stops across LA County to help prioritize needed improvements.
Adapting to Urban Heat: A Tool Kit for Local Governments provides guidance for increasing cool roofs, green roofs, cool pavements, and urban forestry.
TheGreen Infrastructure Toolkit (Georgetown Climate Center, 2016) provides strategies and techniques that manage stormwater, reduce urban heat island effects, improve air quality, and promote economic development and other sustainability goals.
Use observation and data to identify specific locations of heat vulnerability in the community (such as large areas of asphalt pavement, multi-family buildings with minimal shade, lack of boulevard tree canopy, high-traffic heavily-paved areas with lots of vehicle exhaust); identify and evaluate locations where improvements will contribute to equitable community resilience.
Comprehensively assess options to reduce urban heat and improve air quality in advance of planned maintenance, repair or construction of local roads; take preventive action to complete at least one installation (such as: cool/pervious pavements, higher albedo coatings, increased roadside vegetation including resilient tree species, or efficient timing/sensors for stoplights), also incorporating stormwater BMPs as applicable; invest in improvements will contribute to equitable community resilience.
Comprehensively assess options to reduce urban heat and improve air quality in advance of planned construction, maintenance or replacement of roofs, sidewalks/patios, parking lots/ramps, and landscaping/vegetation for new and existing city-owned buildings, structures and sites; take preventive action to complete at least two installations (such as: cool or vegetative "green" roofs, cool/pervious pavements, or a meaningful increase in vegetative cover including resilient tree species), also incorporating stormwater BMPs as applicable; document projects that contribute to equitable community resilience.
Who's doing it
Fridley - 2 star
Date action report first entered:
Date of last report update:
Year action initially completed: 2016
• The City of Fridley was awarded the MnDOT Landscape Partnership grant to plant trees, shrubs and low-care perennials and grasses in a neglected right-of-way area at East River Road just north of Interstate 694 along the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) in a neglected area in close proximity to the Mississippi River.
• City volunteer labor was needed and the City was made aware of the possibility of the Youth Conservation Corps to install the trees, shrubs, native grasses and pollinator plants on the plan. This possibility became a reality and the project was scheduled for the end of June, 2016.
• Kay Qualley, Environmental Planner and Jeff Jensen, Street and Parks Superintendent coordinated the project and interacted with MnDOT and supervisors from the Youth Conservation Corp to accomplish this planting with planning and site assistance from Erika Van Krevelen, GreenCorp Member for the City of Fridley. The Fridley Public Works Department has committed to providing a watering tank for assistance in watering new plants until they are established.
• MnDOT removed a grove of Ash trees, and provided landscape architectural design services and tree layout services. Their grant provided for the purchase of small trees, shrubs and perennial plants as well as mulch and watering aids in order to mobilize prior to the arrival of the Youth Corps planting crew on June 24.
• The Youth Corps worked on removal of invasive weeds, like quack grass, buckthorn and thistle in addition to plantings.
• The Youth Corps planted more than 50 trees, along with 184 shrubs for habitat, 163 pollinator perennials and 225 non-pollinator perennials like native grasses.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The Youth Conservation Corp work combined with the Mn-DOT grant to convert a weedy area along the convergence of two segments of the Mississippi River Trail into trees and flowering pollinator plants and native Minnesota grasses which will, as it grows, reduce runoff into the River, beautify East River Road, as well as improve air quality at an especially busy intersection of major transportation corridors.
The planting will also provide ancillary benefits to bicyclists and pedestrians along an important tourist bicycling route though the City, the heavily used Mississippi River Trail. The shade from the future grove, along with blooming plants instead of weeds were a few things mentioned by the many well-wishers who passed by the project!
Residents from nearby apartments, homes and the adjacent Riverfront Regional Park will also benefit from these site improvements.
In 2015, Jordan completed a rebuild of its downtown streetscape, which was informed by the City Planning Commission and other public engagement. This involved lane width reductions and reduced overall asphalt coverage while incorporating street trees and bump-outs with native planter beds into the streetscape for the first time in Jordan. This project won a Project of the Year Award from the American Public Works Association – Minnesota Chapter.
The city of Jordan continually assesses the amount of public park land and greenspace in city limits by providing analysis in its comprehensive plan’s land use chapter. In addition to creating parkland greenspace, the city recodified its city code in 2015, which streamlined the code and eliminated inconsistencies.
Jordan’s City Code requires the preservation of greenspace in every area of the city to retain those benefits provided by vegetation. One example is the requirement that all residents and businesses incorporate a percentage of pervious landscaping. In residential areas, city code stipulates that a Tree and Woodland Preservation Plan is required when building new housing. In order to satisfy the preservation requirements, builders can plant boulevard trees to provide shade to city infrastructure. Additionally, in residential areas, city code directs residents to maintain 60% or more of lot as pervious landscaping including ornamental shrubs and trees.
In areas zoned for commercial use, Jordan requires businesses to build planted parking islands in lots that have more than 20 parking spaces. “To provide shade throughout a parking area to reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the pavement” (§154.157)
In areas zoned for Industrial use, businesses must provide screening for parking and storage areas. Jordan encourages those land users to install evergreen trees instead of fencing to accomplish this while providing shade year round.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
In addition to reduced urban heat island effect, Jordan has seen numerous co-benefits from its focus on street trees. Benefits include a friendlier environment for cyclists and pedestrians, increased infiltration of storm water, and a more aesthetically pleasing streetscape.
To complete Phase II of the roadside restoration along Little Bohemia Trail parallel with the I-35E sound barrier, as part of the MNDOT Community Roadside Partnership, community organizers utilized a summer youth crew. The crew prepped and helped plant the main hill including: digging holes for trees and plants as per design; staging compost, mulch and plants near holes before the Friday evening / Saturday volunteer planting event in which the youth crew also participated; and assisting with other site prep.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
The restoration project improved 2,328 square yards of public land with the planting of resilient species including 48 trees, 106 shrubs, 224 pollinator perennials, and 200 non-pollinator perennials. This installation is expected to help improve local air and water quality, enhance greenspace along the trail for community use, increase shaded areas available to the public, diversify the tree canopy, support local pollinators, and educate community members.
Maplewood encourges the use of rain gardens on both public and private lands to better manage stormwater and increase resilience. Rain gardens located in the right-of-ways were created as part of a street reconstruction project. Maplewood adopted a Living Streets Policy in 2013. The policy promotes the use of rain gardens and other stormwater best practices to decrease stormwater runoff from all new street reconstruction projects. Since 1996, the city has installed over 700 boulevard raingardens and over 60 city rain gardens as part of street reconstruction projects. Maplewood encourages residents and developers to construct raingardens on private property.
The Maplewood Nature Center holds workshops for residents on installing and maintaining raingardens. One program that is held yearly is the raingarden rehab program, designed to help residents with existing, poorly functioning raingardens to make improvements to their raingardens.
Service learning, such as planting many of the City’s large rain gardens, is an important component of the Nature Center’s programs. In 2015 naturalists worked with several classes from Weaver Elementary to replant the large rain garden on Manton, north of Frost Avenue.
The City partners with Century College to conduct service projects throughout the City. One service project consistently offered is native plantings in newly constructed or refurbished raingardens.
The City of Maplewood partners with Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District on promoting their stormwater best practice cost share grant and programs.
Outcome measures/metrics/money saved:
Number of attendees at raingarden events, number of raingardens in the city.
Sartell has installed rain gardens as part of street reconstruction projects. Sartell also hosted a rain garden class in 2016. The class helped promote and encourage residents to construct a rain garden (private or public land) and provided an educational opportunity for residents who already have a rain garden (proper maintenance, what plants to utilize, etc.) Sartell plans to offer this or another similar class once a year.