Our Purpose

To investigate the impacts of heat on the composition and use of urban spaces.

We are a multidisciplinary team collaborating across a broad academic and industrial community.

Project Summary:

The $1.2 million research initiative aims to identify cost-effective strategies for mitigation of urban heat islands in Australian cities. ‘Urban Micro Climates: Comparative Study of Major Contributors to the Urban Heat Island (UHI) in three Australian cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide)’ is a three-based urban strategy for decision makers and policy formulation to reduce heat stress in three Australian cities.

This project will develop a cross-disciplinary, multi-scale understanding of Australian cities’ microclimates, by focusing on the UHI effect and the interplay between urban form, density, surfaces and ambient temperature. It will be undertaken collaboratively by researchers from three universities, the CRC-WSC, two city councils, government bodies and industry partners.

There is a considerable body of international UHI research. This project aims to apply that knowledge to Australian cities and their particular issues, comparing the built environment in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. It will consider co-relations between urban morphology, density, surfaces, materials, vegetation and the urban energy balance (solar and anthropogenic) as key factors of the UHI effect and its impact on people’s use of public space.

The resulting analysis on the architectural, precinct and city scales will support decision making, policy formulation, urban planning and environmental management in line with the CRC-LCL aim to reduce Australia’s carbon footprint.

Timespan: July 2013 – June 2016

Download Project Structure PDF >>

Project structure - RP2005: Urban Micro Climates. Comparative study of major contributors to the Urban Heat Island effect in three Australian cities: Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide .

Research Objectives:

Due to the lack of connection between the scientific research and the planning/design professions, the important research on UHI is still contained in a ‘silo’. Thus it is neither perceived as a design criterion nor used as a clear and relevant design parameter. This study will bring together experts from different backgrounds with the aim of making UHI research more accessible to landscape and urban planners and designers, based on sound scientific knowledge, including publication of a ‘Handbook of practical solutions for mitigating UHI in Australian cities’. The catalogue of easily realisable, feasible solutions in this publication will contribute to the necessary change in the planning/design professions and enable councils and other government agencies to develop and implement appropriate policy in their role as legislators and approval-granting authorities.

The contributor cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide) are looking for a comparative study to better understand the most cost-effective options that meet the widest range of sustainability criteria as set out in their Sustainable Sydney/Melbourne/Adelaide 2030 objectives and that are consistent with their proposed demonstration projects.

RO1. To advocate for the importance of urban microclimates as a quantifiable guiding principle for urban development policy and reform, promoting sustainable, healthy built environments in cities that support community use

RO2. To facilitate and disseminate research on urban microclimates and their essential characteristics, which can be used to build more comfortable cities

RO3. To develop a Australian City Urban Heat Index and to assess and award a ‘Sustainable City’ brand to those showing exceptional progress in mitigating UHI and achievement as ‘Cool Cities’

RO4. To promote policy dialogue and peer learning among Australian cities, researchers and industry partners by organising conferences, seminars and exchange activities

RO5. To assemble successful practice and strategies for mitigating UHI in Australian cities and to provide capacity-development programs for stakeholders in cities that are striving to become ‘Cool Cities’

RO6. To collaborate with related international associations and networks

RO7. To design a comprehensive framework to monitor and assess urban microclimates in Australian cities with key indicators and develop a cost-benefit analysis of measures to ameliorate urban microclimates

RO8. To develop a cost, benefit and risk analysis of the UHI mitigation options available.

Download UCR Project Visualisation PDF (4.1mb) >>

Project Visualisation - A practical representation of the way our research tiers align on varying scales and in varying fields for a comprehensive approach.

Research Output:

  • Extensive, comprehensive, detailed and up-to-date urban micro climate data
  • UHI mitigation-oriented design framework for city councils, urban planners and architects
  • Cost–benefit analysis of key strategies to mitigate the UHI effect in Australian cities
  • A clear pathway for use of materials, vegetation and forms based on the microclimates in Australian cities; evidence-based policy development
  • Handbook of practical solutions for mitigating UHI in Australian cities


Activities in detail:

  • Review of relevant literature in architectural science, engineering, climatology, public health and urban planning
  • Gather data based on aerial and hand-held thermal photography, contextual measurements (dimensions and climate data) and spatial observational data
  • Data analysis and
  • Synthesise results to a format suitable as decision-making tools for end-users.


  • Project outcomes will include reports, publications (national and international) and presentations, including papers at major and important conferences.
  • Data collection on urban micro climates to provide a comprehensive picture of three interconnected scales, which will provide an extensive archive of urban microclimate statistics and analysis for three Australian cities.
  • 5 completed PhD theses.