Creating Cooler, Healthier and More Liveable Australian Cities Using Irrigated Green Infrastructure

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This chapter focuses on the health impact of heat in Australian cities and the range of strategies that can be implemented for effective urban cooling. Extreme heat is responsible for more fatalities than any other natural hazard in Australia, and projections show that without adaptation, heat-related mortality and morbidity will increase substantially in the future. In Australian cities, clear threshold temperatures exist above which adverse health outcomes escalate dramatically, meaning that even small reductions in temperature can improve health outcomes significantly. Recent research in the Australian Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cites (CRCWSC), reviewed in this chapter, has shown the urban cooling effectiveness of irrigated green infrastructure and its potential to dramatically improve human thermal comfort and to save lives. At the microscale (backyard to street) the key role of water and green infrastructure is to reduce air and radiant temperature. Radiation loading to the body is critical for human thermal comfort, so reducing that energy load through shade and reducing surface temperature is critical for improved thermal comfort. At the local scale (neighbourhood to city) the role of water and green infrastructure is to reduce air temperature to improve thermal comfort and heat-health outcomes at that larger scale. The chapter concludes by discussing the current key impediments for implementation of effective urban cooling strategies in Australia, which are a lack of policy co-ordination across the different levels of government and a lack of clarity about the cost-benefit of cooling technologies. Some examples of current best practice for overcoming these issues are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban Climate Science for Planning Healthy Cities
EditorsChao Ren, Glenn McGregor
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783030875985
ISBN (Print)9783030875978
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

ISSN (Print)1877-5284
ISSN (Electronic)2452-1558


  • Climate change adaptation
  • Extreme heat events
  • Heat-health relationships
  • Irrigated green infrastructure
  • Urban cooling
  • Urban heat island (UHI)
  • Water sensitive urban design (WSUD)

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