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Project overview


The concept of the ‘urban heat island’ is now well established. In London, general excess temperatures of several °C are typical. However, the distribution of local temperatures within the urban environment, and their relation to land use and building form is much less well understood. Current climate change projections are for the south-eastern UK to warm by between 2.5°C and 4°C by the 2080s. This will lead to increased prevalence of overheating inside buildings, particularly in summer. The frequency of very warm summer days with temperatures above 30°C will also increase.

The increases in temperatures are important for several reasons. First, mortality rates rise at temperatures outside an optimum range. People living in urban areas are at greater risk than those in non-urban regions. Thermally inefficient housing together with the urban heat island amplifies and extends the rise in temperatures. It is also clear that the proportion of time that people feel ‘uncomfortable’ has the potential to increase. This raises the possibility of a large increase in the use of mechanical cooling systems and a consequent rise in energy use, particularly in urban areas.

Intelligent master planning of large-scale developments can alleviate overheating in urban areas. However, before policies can be developed to adapt to such dangerous conditions, tools are required to identify and quantify the effectiveness to mitigation and adaptation strategies.


The project has three core objectives:

  1. To develop a new integrated tool to model the local climate in urban areas based on the dynamical and thermodynamical processes associated with land use and building form;
  2. To use the model to explore the complex relationships between the projected changes to regional climate and local urban climate and the impact on energy use;
  3. To evaluate the impacts of local temperature and air quality on health as a result of a changing climate.

Project description

LUCID is developing, testing and applying state-of-the-art methods for calculating local climate in the urban environment. The impact on the internal built environment, energy use and the consequences for health will then be explored. The implications for urban planning will be considered in detail.

Details of the proposed work can be found on the project modules page.