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Penrith’s plans to tackle the heat

On the back of record hot temperatures across the outer west this summer, Penrith City Council is undertaking a range of initiatives aimed at tackling the region’s growing heat crisis.

Penrith Mayor Ross Fowler has said that along with planting more trees, erecting shade sails and including water play features in local parks, the council will bring together thought leaders at a special ‘Cooling the City’ MasterClass on February 18.

Cooling the City MasterClass

This special one-day event will bring together key stakeholders and leading professionals to explore strategies that can help combat the urban heat dilemma.

The event will be held at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre.

According to Mayor Fowler, the event is a ‘must attend’ for planners, developers, builders, architects, urban designers and others working with our built environment.

“Together we will explore initiatives to create cooler urban spaces, present the business case for greener development and explore innovative heat reduction strategies that can be applied to not only Western Sydney, but across any major metropolitan city,” he said. 

Environmental Scientist Dr Josh Byrne from ABC’s Gardening Australia will be a keynote speaker at the event.

“Perth has some great examples of urban development where an integrated approach to energy, water and landscaping is being tested. There are some great learnings coming from these projects and I see Penrith Council’s Masterclass as a terrific opportunity to share these, and to discuss how these ideas can be applied locally,” said Dr Byrne.

“The challenges of increasing urban heat and extreme heat events is something that we need to be planning for now.  The approach requires collaboration and creativity to ensure private and public spaces are designed appropriately,” he added.

Heat sensors to track temperatures

Along the with the MasterClass, Penrith Council has partnered with Western Sydney University to install 120 heat sensors to collect data across the city.

The data collected will be able to demonstrate the sometimes-vast differences in temperature experienced across Penrith, despite there currently being just one official weather station located at Penrith Lakes.

According to WSU, temperatures across urban landscapes can vary by more than 10 degrees.

Dr Sebastian Pfautsch, who is leading the study for the council, says that tree canopies and reflective surfaces can help reduce the temperatures at ground level by as much as two degrees on a sweltering day.

He has said that planting trees is important, but is just one part of a complex problem.

Data from the heat sensors will help provide a meaningful picture of the heat problem, which can help inform future development decisions for Penrith.

To book into the Cooling the City MasterClass, click here.

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