Extreme Urban Heat


Surface coatings and new advanced materials have the potential to reduce temperatures in the built environment.  A subgroup of the Soft AE 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 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 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 or by contacting Kristin Field).

Student Projects


Advancing Cool Roof Coatings for Urban Heat Resilience – Colby Snyder

Presented August 28, 2023 and September 20, 2023

[open poster]

ECA and Heat Pumps for Urban Heat – Mikel Saralegui

Presented August 28, 2023 and September 20, 2023

[open poster]


History of Philadelphia’s Extreme Heat Policies – Sarah Sterinbach

Presented September 19, 2022; also see Sterinbach’s interview in Penn Today (Aug. 4, 2022)

SterinbachS_PURM Extreme Heat Poster Summer 2022 image

Thermoresponsive Polymer with Added Cellulose as a Potential Cool Roofing Material – Seito Sanford

Presented September 19, 2022

Seito Sanford Poster Presented CURF Research Expo 9-17-22 image


Below are events we or our Penn IUR partners have organized related to heat in Philadelphia or the more local region. Visit the Penn IUR website for many more events and resources on urban heat globally.

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