UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


HEROIC: Health and Economic impacts of Reducing Overheating in Cities

We will assess the health and economic impacts of urban scale interventions to reduce overheating in a range of cities in different climate zones and in different socio-economic settings.

Aerial shot of city with trees

14 December 2020

Environmental change can negatively impact human health: air pollution, hot and cold weather and extreme events can reduce general health and wellbeing, increase illness, and even lead to early death. Urban populations are particularly vulnerable to overheating due to the urban heat island effect (i.e. increased temperatures in towns and cities compared with rural areas). These health impacts are likely to increase due to climate change, and the fact that globally more people now live in urban areas than ever before. 

One way to reduce overheating is through green infrastructure (e.g. parks, green roofs, walls, etc). Greenspaces have added health benefits; they can promote healthy, active lifestyles and improve mental health and well-being. We will investigate potential health and monetary benefits of a range of methods, including increasing green infrastructure in cities to help decide how we can build cities which improve health and wellbeing, and reduce inequalities in urban populations. We will focus on cities in different climatic zones, and in high, medium and low-income countries.

We will address the following research questions:

  1. How might climate change, land use, and measures aimed at the amelioration of, and adaptation to, the UHI, including use of green infrastructure, modify population health risks?
  2. How do urban heat risks to health vary in relation to socio-economic, demographic and other population factors, and what are the likely impacts of UHI interventions on those differentials within and between cities?
  3. How can we value the health and wellbeing benefits of increased green infrastructure and other strategies aimed at reducing the adverse impacts of the UHI and urban heat risks in monetary terms? 
  • PI: Clare Heaviside (UCL)
  • Mike Davies (UCL)
  • Oscar Brousse (UCL)
  • Lora Fleming (Exeter)
  • James Grellier (Exeter)
  • Tim Taylor (Exeter)
  • Becca Lovell (Exeter)
  • Ben Wheeler (Exeter)
  • Jonathon Taylor (Tampere University)
  • Paul Wilkinson (LSHTM)
  • Ai Milojevic (LSHTM)
  • Zaid Chalabi (UCL)
  • Charles Simpson (UCL)