Teaming Up to Beat the Heat


This summer marked the Earth’s hottest on record.

This summer marked the Earth’s hottest on record.

The Roanoke Valley was no exception to the heat, with news reports naming 2023 as the region’s second-hottest summer. But the rising temperatures were particularly stifling for some neighborhoods in Roanoke — those impacted by harmful urban planning practices.

Theodore Lim, assistant professor of urban affairs and planning in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech, has been working with the City of Roanoke to address the underlying issues that led to the Urban Island Heat Effect. The phenomenon happens in cities when there is a lack of greenery and a surplus of hard, heat-trapping materials, such as concrete. Those areas typically are hotter than surrounding rural areas. According to Lim’s research, certain stressors, such as poverty, housing, and gun violence, already are playing out in these neighborhoods.

Lim and his multidisciplinary team received a Stage 1 National Science Civic Innovation Challenge Planning Grant in 2022 from the National Science Foundation (NSF). It provided them with $50,000 to support rapid implementation of community-driven, research-based pilot projects that address heat resilience priorities.

Read more at: Virginia Tech