Kids playing in water playpark

Research led by UNSW and Sydney Water has found that western Sydney’s summer temperatures can be significantly reduced and mortality rates halved by combining water technology, cool materials and greenery. The research showed that installing more water features including public fountains, ponds and mist in western Sydney could reduce the mortality rate during heatwaves by almost 50%.

Summer temperatures in western Sydney are six to 10 degrees higher than in the city’s east. The region also has up to three times as many heat-related deaths than the east during times of extreme temperatures.

Mat Santamouris, Professor of High Performance Architecture in UNSW Built Environment and lead researcher on the Cooling Western Sydney study, says water technology, cool tiling and pavement materials, and more canopies are crucial to providing relief from the urban heat island effect.

“The solution is not just about planting trees, which seems to be the commonly held view,” Professor Santamouris says. “We must take a multi-faceted approach that includes using water technology and high solar reflectance, or albedo, on roofs, building facades and pavements."


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