Cooling Off in the Age of Climate Change


Climate change is bringing extreme heat to more of our communities. This is a public health threat, especially for low-income and vulnerable populations. This panel will explore how communities are using heat mitigation strategies to increase outdoor thermal comfort in the built environment.

One presentation offers solutions from a survey of cultures around the globe and suggests how to apply these techniques. Another will focus on two key tools that lie within the jurisdiction of most Parks Departments – trees and pools – and outline a set of actions and policies they can take over the next 30 years to ensure that communities can soak up increased stormwater, provide comfortable and cool streets for residents to gather in, and offer opportunities for swimming and cooling off that historically have been denied to communities of color. A third presenter will share Boston’s process for developing an urban forest plan intended to help the city deliver a thriving, equitable, and collaboratively sustained forest, highlighting how to ensure equity-driven planning and outcomes.


  • Understand why extreme heat is the least visible, yet most dangerous, weather effect of climate change, especially for underserved communities
  • Learn how cultures around the world have responded to extreme heat in the past and present
  • Understand the challenges cities face in setting, implementing and maintaining urban canopy goals
  • Explore the forces of history and patterns of development leading to inequitable distribution of urban forests and methods of communicating and rectifying these
  • Learn about innovative strategies cities are piloting that can be employed to overcome existing hurdles to increasing tree canopy and improving access to public pools
  • Learn how these types of targeted strategies that are within a municipality's purview can have a tangible impact on climate resiliency, especially for historically underserved populations


Sadiya Muqueeth

Director of Community Health, Trust for Public Land

Amy Whitesides

Director of Resilience and Research, Stoss Landscape Urbanism

Benjamin Bryant

Director of Special Projects, Interface Studio

Nathaniel Cormier

Managing Studio Director, RIOS