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ASU researchers working to cool Phoenix down

(Photo: Chad Humphrey)

Air conditioning may not be enough for folks living in Phoenix a few decades from now. Arizona State University researchers are looking at nine cities, including Phoenix, to come up with a range of solutions.

“What we’re doing is we’re trying to bring together local officials, stake-holders and scientists to find sort of the way to build a more resilient city,” said Charles Redman director ASU’s School Of Sustainability.

“A city that can absorb changes in temperature, absorb potential droughts, absorb momentary floods like we’ve been experiencing recently and come out better than we went in.”

The changing heat the valley is experiencing is actually the night time heat.

Daytime heat has gone up somewhat, Redman said, but night-time lows have risen 10-12 degrees since Phoenix’s record 122-degree day in 1992.

“And what it means is it just won’t cool off,” he said. “We’re going to cross a point where for plants and animals and for that matter, for people, the comfort zone may be passed.”

A lot of the relief that comes outdoors in the evening or early morning is less and less apparent today already.

The five-year Urban Resilience Sustainability Research Network study is looking at cooler solutions such as green roofs and coated asphalt.

“It’s a matter of materials, energy, (and) water use,” he said. “The design of outdoor space where we’re going to be, where we can maximize the cooling effects of plants while minimizing their water consumption.”

The project is in its first year, building partnerships in each of the nine cities with city planners and scientists.

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