Heat planning in small and medium-sized cities: A collaborative application of PIRS™ for heat in Kent, WA, USA

Shaylynn Trego, Sara Meerow, Ladd Keith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Extreme heat is among the deadliest climate-related hazards with social and ecological impacts. Heat risks are increasing due to climate change and characteristics of the built environment, particularly in urban areas. Many larger and well-resourced cities are making progress on heat initiatives, such as creating heat action plans and pursuing strategies to mitigate heat. Less is known though about how small and medium-sized cities, often with fewer resources and more limited planning capacity, are addressing heat risks. To address the lack of understanding of heat planning in understudied cities, we collaborate with local planning practitioners to apply the Plan Integration for Resilience Scorecard™ (PIRS™) for Heat method to assess heat mitigation planning in Kent, WA. We categorize, score, and spatially analyze policies in the city’s plans based on their potential to mitigate heat and compare the results with indicators of physical heat hazard and social vulnerability to identify opportunities for improved heat planning. We engaged iteratively with practitioners throughout the research process, from developing the research question to the plan selection, policy mapping, and interpretation of the results. Results suggest that heat planning is in its infancy. Planned policies with the potential to mitigate heat, mostly by reducing waste heat or urban greening, tend to rely heavily on a small subset of possible policy tools, notably capital improvements. These policies are concentrated in more socially vulnerable areas of the city, but those areas may not experience the hottest temperatures. Additionally, city officials found the process and results helpful for future heat planning and believe it will increase collaboration between city departments to address heat. More broadly, this study provides insights about the potential for PIRS™ for Heat to be used to co-produce heat planning knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-422
Number of pages14
JournalSocio-Ecological Practice Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Climate change
  • Heat
  • Knowledge co-production
  • Plan integration
  • Urban heat island
  • Urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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