Responding to the urban heat island: Optimising the implementation of green infrastructure

Researchers: A/Prof Nick Williams, Dr Andy Coutts (Monash University), A/Prof Steve Livesley, Dr Briony Norton

Funding: Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation (2011-2013)

In this project, we assessed the effectiveness of different green infrastructure systems for urban cooling and developed a systematic approach for urban land managers to optimise the selection and implementation of green infrastructure options.

The project:

  • quantified the range in land surface temperatures and near-surface air temperatures for different urban surface types and vegetation types using DPCD/DSE collected data
  • identified surface types and features that tend to create localised heat exposure or cooling
  • assessed the thermal performance of different types green infrastructure for encouraging urban cooling (e.g. a green roof, green wall, and street trees) by monitoring green infrastructure surface temperatures
  • identified and assessed key considerations for integration of green infrastructure into existing urban areas including available space, existing infrastructure, installation and maintenance costs
  • analysed the institutional opportunities and barriers to implementation
  • developed a systematic approach for selecting and implementing green infrastructure that considers the more vulnerable sections of society, heat exposure ‘hot spots’ and the local context
  • translated the scientific findings into user-friendly guidance material for use by policy-makers and practitioners.


Coutts, A. M., R. J. Harris, T. Phan, S. J. Livesley, N. S. G. Williams, and N. J. Tapper. 2016. Thermal infrared remote sensing of urban heat: Hotspots, vegetation, and an assessment of techniques for use in urban planning. Remote Sensing of Environment 186:637-651.

Norton, B. A., A. M. Coutts, S. J. Livesley, R. J. Harris, A. M. Hunter, and N. S. G. Williams. 2015. Planning for cooler cities: A framework to prioritise green infrastructure to mitigate high temperatures in urban landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning 134:127-138.


For more information please contact Nick Williams from the Green Infrastructure Research Group at

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