Stories—

The making of ‘UrbanHeat101’

Location: Blacktown City Council, NSW

Climate change and rapid urbanisation are causing air temperature increases across Greater Sydney. Blacktown City is expected to experience an additional 5-10 hot days over 35°C by 2030 and an additional 10-20 hot days by 2070 (Office and Environment and Heritage 2014). One of the objectives in Blacktown City Council’s ‘Responding to Climate Change’ policy (Blacktown City Council 2018) is to work with our community to become more resilient to the changing climate, especially to increasing temperatures in Blacktown City.  

The following are urban heat related projects that Blacktown City Council has undertaken or is currently working on:

  1. We engaged Gallagher Studio to run Cool Streets™ projects where residents become involved in selecting tree species on street verges. The projects combine community engagement and learning about the benefits of street trees with building local climate resilience and creating liveable public spaces.
  2. Our ‘how you can beat the summer heat’ brochure (attached) serves as a guide for residents who are considering planting trees and shrubs at home.
  3. We partnered with the Citizen Science Urban Microclimatic project with UNSW.   In this project, citizens used handheld devices to measure temperatures, humidity and wind speeds.  They also learned about how different outdoor materials (depending on colour, material and reflectivity) affect surrounding temperatures and contribute to the urban heat island effect.
  4. We are ran a ‘Cool Your Yard’ workshop to highlight and educate the community on the importance and cooling effect of trees and how to plant trees at home. This workshop includes a tree planting demonstration to teach attendees how they can plant trees in their backyard.  We aim for this to be a recurring workshop.
  5. Resilient Sydney released the first ever resilience strategy for metropolitan Sydney. This strategy sets directions to strengthen our ability to survive, adapt and thrive in the face of global uncertainty and local shocks and stresses. Climate is a main focus within the Strategy, and extreme urban heat is recognised as the ‘biggest risk in terms of shocks’. Accordingly, cooling homes and streets is a priority for climate resilience. Supporting actions on climate include resilient building, access renewable energy, and measuring metropolitan carbon emissions.  
  6. Blacktown City Council is working with Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) on the Turn Down the Heat strategy and action plan. The strategy helps to increase awareness and to facilitate a broader and more coordinated response to urban heat.
  7. We are working together with Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (NSROC) and a consultant on how we can address urban heat in our planning approaches, including in our Local Environment Plan (LEP).

These projects provide collaborative learning and practical opportunities for communities to work toward achieving liveability and inclusivity at neighbourhood, regional and metropolitan scales.

Figure 1: Community members and local government officials watering new street trees

Blacktown City Council 2018, Environmental Plans and Policies, accessed 1 April 2019

Office of Environment and Heritage 2014, Metropolitan Sydney Climate change snapshot, NSW Government

Resilient Sydney 2018, Resilient Sydney: A strategy for city resilience, accessed 9 April 2019

Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils 2018, Turn Down the Heat Strategy and Action Plan, accessed 9 April 2019