Rising Temperatures and
Extreme Heat in Greater Boston
Summer temperatures in the Metro Boston area are increasing, along with extreme temperature events like heat waves (defined as days over 90 degrees). 2020 marked the hottest summer globally, with 14 days over 90 degrees in Boston By the 2030s, scientists predict we could more than double that and have 41 days of 90 degrees due to climate change.
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Despite these challenges, municipalities, communities, and individuals can proactively prepare for rising temperatures by increasing access to cooling resources, implementing policies and projects to reduce urban heat islands, improving healthy housing, and making deep investments to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
MAPC is creating resources, conducting research, and working with cities and towns on extreme heat issues. Below, find a list of our extreme heat-related projects and pages:
Check back here for grant opportunities, RFPS, and the latest updates on all of our heat-related projects.
Our Heat-Related Projects
Keep Cool Somerville
Keep Cool Somerville is an initiative to improve community resilience to extreme heat. The project began in 2020 as a collaboration between the City of Somerville and MAPC to address the health impacts of climate change. In 2020, we conducted stakeholder interviews, a PhotoVoice project with resident participants, resident focus groups, and a public survey to understand how extreme heat affects Somerville residents. In 2021, the initiative will build on research and earlier community engagement to support community solutions to address heat.
Art for Heat Resilience
This summer, MAPC plans to work with artists and creatives on extreme heat-related creative communications, creative engagement, and creative cooling infrastructure Projects could educate, develop climate solutions, envision future resilience measures, build social connections, improve access to cooling spaces, or reduce heat island effects. Stay tuned to learn more.
Metro Mayors: Building Resilience to Climate-Driven Heat
The 15 communities of the Metro Mayors Coalition (MMC) are working with MAPC to plan and prepare for climate change-induced increases to summer heat as well as extreme heat events. The MMC Climate Taskforce received a Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Action grant from the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to conduct a two-year planning process for the region. The resulting plan will provide a roadmap of priority actions in addressing both public health concerns, as well as long-term solutions to reducing urban heat islands. Stay tuned to learn more!
In summer of 2020, MAPC and the Mystic River Watershed Association launched a “COVID-Safe Cooling Strategies” program with emergency funding provided by the Barr Foundation. The partnership provided technical assistance and funding to seven communities most impacted by both COVID-19 and extreme heat: Boston, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Lawrence, Lynn, and Revere.
In 2020, the program provided support to five municipalities and eight community-based organizations (CBOs) to implement local cooling projects and educational programs. Last year’s projects including installing hydration stations, adapting cooling centers for social distancing, distribution of personal cooling devices like air conditioners and fans, and electric utility assistance. MAPC also developed a social media and communications toolkit in several different languages, to be used by grantees and partners. This program is offering a second round of funding in 2021.
Extreme Heat Resources
MAPC has researched and worked with local, state, and national organizations to build a consolidated Extreme Heat Resources webpage, which outlines cooling strategies for communities, resources for residents, resources for municipalities, and emergency tips. This resources page debuted in July 2020 and is built to address greater Boston’s current heat challenges. During the COVID pandemic, it includes strategies for COVID-safe cooling.
Climate Vulnerability in Greater Boston
A group’s exposure to climate hazards, access to resources, and ability to plan for and rebuild after a climate event all factor into a group’s vulnerability to climate change. This mapping tool combines sociodemographic, public health, housing, and workforce data with climate exposure data to help identify which populations and neighborhoods are most vulnerable to the impacts of extreme heat.
Peak Demand Management
Each year, the single hour in which the electric grid experiences its highest – or peak – demand, typically occurs in the summer. This annual peak tends to correlate with high temperatures and occurs in late afternoon when buildings are using the most electricity. During times of high demand, our dirtier fuel sources come online. Facilities are also charged for electricity based on their electricity use during this annual peak hour. MAPC runs our own free Peak Electricity Demand Notification program for our municipalities to learn how to reduce demand, costs, and emissions associated with capacity charges. MAPC can also help connect you to other demand management opportunities offered by National Grid, Eversource, and ISO-New England (ISO-NE).
Extreme Heat Communications and Social Media Toolkit
As part of a Barr Foundation-funded project on COVID-safe cooling, MAPC created a toolkit of flyers, sample social media posts, and images that cities and towns can use to inform residents about heat risks, precautions, and resources.