Cities and communities across the country may be eligible for up to $100 million in federal funding to mitigate the effects of heat islands if a new bill introduced in Congress wins passage.
Those islands are identified as buildings, streets, roads, sidewalks, and other infrastructure that absorb the sun’s heat, raising temperatures in particularly dense areas.
The Preventing Health Emergencies and Temperature-Related Illness and Death Act, otherwise known as the HEAT bill, would see communities receiving grants to, among other things, build cool roofs and install building HVAC retrofits.
Cool roofs are often painted lighter colors and made up of asphalt shingles or metal.
The measure will also provide funding for the creation of cool pavements, as well as the planting of more trees.
Proposed by Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, the legislation would be particularly available to lower-income neighborhoods, with individual grants topping out at $2.5 million.
In introducing the legislation, Markey said that the “combination of extreme heat and the coronavirus has made this summer especially dangerous.”
Noting that many public pools and community centers with air conditioning have been closed because of the Covid-19 outbreak, Markey said an extreme heat environment is only making the virus more persistent.
His bill, continued the Senator, will “provide the funds, coordination, and help that our communities need to prepare for and respond to extreme heat events.”
The bill has now been sent to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation for review.
By Garry Boulard