Alta explored the intersections of extreme heat, mobility, equity, and public space to develop cooling solutions that can be integrated into the public right-of-way in the communities of Long Beach and Pasadena, CA. This work combats the effects of the urban heat island effect, which is intensifying as a result of climate change, and is the recipient of a 2022 Innovation in Green Community Planning Award from the APA Los Angeles Chapter.

The Urban Heat Island effect is the intensification of heat in urban areas due to the abundance of materials such as concrete, asphalt, and glass, which absorb and retain heat. This compounds the experience of extreme heat and heat waves, which are becoming more common as a result of climate change.

Alta was hired by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) to prepare Urban Heat Island reduction strategies for three neighborhoods in the cities of Long Beach and Pasadena.

Alta conducted shade and green infrastructure suitability assessments, inventoried heat readings, and engaged with the community to learn more about the impacts of extreme heat on residents and understand their vision for change.

Through this work, Alta developed a Cooling Strategies toolkit is helping the two cities prioritize where cooling strategies such as shade trees, green infrastructure, and cool pavements are needed most, and also places emphasis on the dual benefit of these strategies, which can transform how users move through and experience public space.

The Cooling Strategies Toolkit is a resource that can be used across a wide range of city departments—encouraging greater collaboration and utilization of resources. It is also a tool for developers who help to implement upgrades to city streets, sidewalks, and alleys.