Penrith City Council and Western Sydney University (WSU) have embarked on a project where they collect data from 120 heat sensors over summer, proving the relationship between development and urban heat. 

According to Penrith Mayor, Ross Fowler, the new data tangibly reinforces how much sustainability decisions in development count in combating urban heat. 

“We know anecdotaly there can be vast temperature differences across our region, but until now, we’ve lacked evidence to support and correlate this.”

“Collecting haet data this summer will help scientifically inform decision making for our city and tackle rising urban heat.”

Heat sensors, recording results at ten minute intervals, were installed at ten varied locations across the Penrith local government area, collecting some 46,000 temperature measurements. 

The five-week measurement period started on 12 December and included 4 January 2020, when Penrith’s temperature soared to a staggering 48.9 degrees. 

According WSU’s Dr Sebastian Pfautsch, the results captured on that day revealed a 3.6-degree difference between Tench Reserve and suburban St. Mary’s.

“Tench Reserve was a relatively cooler 45.2 degrees on that record breaking day, while St Mary’s reached 48.8 degrees.”

“The difference between the two places is, one is dominated by green and blue infrastructure, while the other has a high proportion of hard urban surfaces.”

Dr Pfautsch explains that considerations for urban heat needs to be at the very forefront of planning cities, or else 50-degree-plus summers will become Western Sydney’s reality.