Metropolis funds establishes workplace geared toward tackling climbing temps

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PHOENIX – In 2020, Arizona experienced the hottest summer ever, according to all measurements. The city of Phoenix recorded a record 50 days with temperatures of 110 degrees or higher. Phoenix also saw a record of 145 days of 100 degrees or more. And an average high of 110 degrees in August, yes, another record.

“We are optimistic about the future of this city from the perspective of the heat,” said Dr. David Hondula.

Dr. Hondula, the new director of the city’s Office of Heat Response and Mitigation, certainly has his job for him. Today he leads the first publicly funded team of its kind in the country. He spoke to us for the first time when he was sitting next to Mayor Kate Gallego in front of the town hall on Wednesday.

“Cities across the country and beyond are rethinking how to address this heat hazard that has fallen through government holes in the past,” said Dr. Hondula.

With an annual budget of $ 2.8 million, the team plans to use innovative technology solutions to create a cooler Arizona while combining data and resources to reduce the number of heat deaths.

In 2010, Maricopa County recorded 186 heat-related deaths. A number that has risen, culminating in a record 522 in 2020.

“This is not a temporary commitment, we are reorganizing the Phoenix government with an eye to how we can combat heat,” said Mayor Gallego.

Dr. Hondula says they will use data to find a better and fairer way to plant trees and build thermal relief stations on the subway. He says they will also look for new building materials that will reduce the heat island effect and forge operational partnerships with other boroughs.

“We believe that in finding solutions, having people focused on this problem day in and day out makes a huge difference,” said Dr. Hondula.

Success means a safer and more prosperous community. Dr. Hondula, who has a PhD in environmental science, thinks this is doable.

“Model studies suggest that with the widespread use of cooling technologies like the Cool Roads program, which the mayor helped promote cool roofs and trees, we might actually get a city in the future that is cooler despite global warming than today, “said Dr. Hondula.