Creating Resilient Communities: Reconnecting planning, design and public health in climate adaption.
There is now an active planning process across many levels of government to prevent or mitigate damage from climate-related disasters such as heat waves. Higher average summertime temperatures in temperate zone cities are associated with environmental and public health liabilities, such as decreased air quality, increased mortality and morbidity, and peak electrical demand. Municipal climate adaptation in American cities has focused on approaches based on technological innovation (e.g., new materials and infrastructure upgrades); changes in behavior and public education (e.g., neighborhood watch programs and heat-alert programs); and improvements in urban design (e.g., zoning for mixed land-use; the use of water, vegetation, and plazas to reduce the urban heat island effect), while generally not incorporating social policies, such as supportive housing, that may address key vulnerabilities. Recent initiatives to spur climate adaptation and research on the public health impacts of urban design are discussed to illustrate these concerns and to address the effectiveness of strategies for developing "climate resilient" communities.