Miami Beach Adopts New Land Use Codes to Reduce Urban Heat Island Effect

(Miami Beach, FL) Mar 14, 2019 -

The City Commission unanimously voted to amend land development regulations to provide for sustainable construction methods, including renewable sources of energy like solar panels, in an effort to reduce heat island effects.

“As a city, we’ve have been proactive in addressing major impacts of climate change, including sea level rise, flooding and now urban heat island effect,” shared Mayor Dan Gelber. “Extreme heat can have major impacts on public health such as worsening the potential for heat strokes and dehydration as well as increasing the spread of tropical infectious diseases. This measure works to eliminate the variables that produce extreme heat in the first place.”

The urban heat island effect is caused by materials used in urban development that absorb significant amounts of energy from the sun and increase the ambient temperature of their surroundings, most notably in areas where the development takes the place of open land and vegetation.

Minimizing the potential for the urban heat island effect, the new land use code allows solar carports and requires cool or porous pavements and sustainable roofing, such as vegetation, stormwater management techniques, metal or solar roofing. If sustainable elements are not incorporated, a fee will be collected and deposited into the Sustainability and Resiliency Fund.

“The decision marks a historic step for solar by officially designating solar panels an allowable accessory use in all zoning districts within the city,” added Commissioner John Elizabeth Alemán. “Beyond lowering temperatures, this addition to the city’s land use code reduces demand for electricity, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.”