Extreme Urban Heat

The Adapting to Extreme Heat Project is now being hosted by the NRT Soft AE Program.  Please visit us here to learn about our current activities.


Surface coatings and new advanced materials have the potential to reduce temperatures in the built environment.  A subgroup of the REACT community is exploring how students and researchers may be able to contribute to reducing urban heat islands.  With the support of the Penn Environmental Innovations Initiative, we started an extreme heat focused effort, Adapting to Extreme Heat in Philadelphia to Increase Human Vitality, with the Penn Institute for Urban Research.

This 1-year pilot project focuses on learning about efforts outside of the University of Pennsylvania that aim to reduce the negative effects of the increasing and increasingly dangerous levels of urban heat. Specifically, our Adapting to Extreme Heat project aims to identify local city, community and NGO-organized heat projects that would welcome Penn student participation. There are funds to support our students’ engagement in these efforts. We are also exploring longer term opportunities to bring together Penn Engineering’s research expertise with the needs of our local region and its residents.

We invite anyone interested in engaging a Penn student in their heat projects, partnering in other ways or being notified of our future heat-related programming to leave your information here (Extreme Heat contact form). Information about our programming and student engagement is below.


January 20, 2023 (Led by Penn IUR) Rooted in Research: Greening Cities for Health, Safety & Well-Being

Rooted in Research: Greening Cities for Health, Safety & Well-Being graphic

October 14, 2022 (Led by Penn IUR) Cities Taking the Lead on Global Extreme Heat

October 12, 2022 Measuring Philly’s Heat and Air Quality: Organizer and Community Leader Perspectives

Student Engagement

During the summer of 2022, two undergraduates, who were selected to participate in the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program, worked on heat projects with us. Their end-of-summer posters are below.  Sarah Sterinbach was interviewed by Penn Today (Aug. 4, 2022).

“History of Philadelphia’s Extreme Heat Policies,” Sarah Sterinbach, Penn Arts & Sciences

S. Sterinbach PURM Extreme Heat Poster Summer2022 image

“Thermoresponsive Polymer with Added Cellulose as a Potential Cool Roofing Material,” Seito Sanford, Penn Engineering

Seit Sanford Poster Presented CURF Research Expo 9-17-22