Triple-digit summer temperatures like those we had last week are likely to become more common with climate change. The EPA recommends cities build and preserve green space to reduce temperatures as well as energy use from air conditioning.
Urban areas amplify temperature because of the concentration of pavement and buildings that absorb and then radiate heat. Spokane’s green spaces are a form of air conditioning that urban planners call “green infrastructure.” Some of this infrastructure is under threat due to in-fill development.
While in-fill development could reduce climate impact by reducing sprawl and encouraging use of mass transit or walking or biking for transportation, if these developments reduce or eliminate existing green spaces within our city we will feel hot weather more severely.
We measured a 12-degree drop in temperature between a wooded 20-acre site on the South Hill and a sidewalk two blocks away on a nearby residential street. This site is currently slated for development. While we don’t dispute the need for in-fill for the sake of Spokane’s sustainable growth, it’s important to consider what types of land we develop. Protecting remaining green space in the city should be a priority.
Pablo Monsivais and Holly Borba