A new online tool based on a 3D platform is expected to assist local governments in addressing the problem of rising temperatures and the resulting urban heat island effect (UHI) in Australian cities.

Funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living, the Microclimate and Urban Heat Island Mitigation Decision-Support Tool brings together scientific models, case studies and broad guidelines to help government and the built environment industry reference top heat mitigation strategies and effects relative to their city.

Thanks to the 3D platform, tool users can visualise development alternatives and ‘see’ the effects of various heat mitigation techniques including the addition of trees and water features or cool roofs and pavements.

Project leader and associate professor of the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Lan Ding explains that the tool will not only provide scenario analysis to better address the heat, but will also inform future urban policy, development assessment and planning practices related to mitigating urban overheating, improving outdoor thermal comfort and protecting the health of the vulnerable.

The online tool integrates scientific models with a range of mitigation techniques to provide urban heat island mitigation analysis across both urban and building scales such as parks, greenery, waterways and cool roofs. The simple interface allows the tool to be used by people without any technical background.

Ding believes the tool will bridge the gap between research on urban microclimates and practical application of strategies to reduce temperatures on city streets and public spaces during the hottest days.

The tool has been used in various development projects in the Sydney region including Green Square Town Centre redevelopment by Landcom and City of Sydney; Parramatta Civic Link redevelopment by Parramatta City Council; and Macarthur Heights greenfield development by Landcom and Campbelltown City Council.