Urban heat island

About the urban heat island effect

Moreland Thermal Image - Jan 2014The urban heat island effect (UHIE) refers to the way built up areas trap heat. It results from a lot of activity in the one area and from the dense, dark and solid surfaces in urban environments which absorb heat.

The Urban Heat Island Effect is a significant issue for Moreland due to the highly urbanised environment and factors including climate change and an ageing population make Moreland particularly vulnerable to extreme heat.

Moreland City Council has been proactive in seeking ways to reduce this urban heat. Council has carried out research to understand the impacts of heat across the municipality using techniques such as heat and vulnerability mapping. This has helped Council to identify the hottest areas in the city and where to take action.

Urban Heat Island Effect Action Plan

To help reduce the impacts and prepare for a hotter future, Council has developed an:

On 8 June 2016, Council endorsed the Action Plan which includes municipal-wide strategies to reduce overall temperatures and projects targeting specific locations. The Action Plan is Council’s first step and long term commitment to respond to the UHIE.

Council Officers have contributed to the development of this Action Plan. Council staff worked together to identify actions and adjust programs to help keep Moreland greener, cooler and safer in extreme heat. Industry experts from Melbourne University, Monash University and some leading practitioners in this space also contributed to the plan as well as community members who contributed ideas to include in the Plan.

The Urban Heat Island Effect Action Plan will help to create a city more resilient to urban heat and climate change. Taking action will produce multiple benefits including decreased energy costs, improved air quality and reduce health risks.

Things you can do now

If you want to contribute to a cooler, greener and safer place in extreme heat, you can:

  • Apply reflective roof painting or (if re-roofing) reflective roofing materials to reduce indoor heat absorption
  • Install bulk and reflective insulation and shading to improve indoor comfort
  • Install a rainwater tank or a downpipe diverter with a raingarden to capture more water and keep the garden greener
  • Use your car less by using public transport or walking. Consider buying an electric vehicle to reduce heat from the car engines
  • If renovating, access free advice on sustainable design and product choices from Moreland Energy Foundation Positive Charge service.
  • Plant trees in your garden to increase tree canopy and provide shading. Search the Moreland Tree Finder tool to select a suitable tree species for your space.
Tree location or main purpose

Council actions

Council is already working across the city to minimise urban heat and is introducing new projects and programs to contribute towards cooling our city:

Expanding canopy cover

Increasing tree canopy and greenery is one way to keep the city cooler. A 10% increase in tree cover can drop ambient temperatures by one degree.

Moreland Street Tree Planting Plan and the Moreland Open Space Strategy aim to increase canopy cover and include a commitment to plant 5,000 trees a year. Council is prioritising tree planting in parks and on streets that are most vulnerable to urban heat. We are also investigating and trialling the most cost effective approach to passively water street trees and maintain tree health.

Council is working to protect trees and incorporate new green space in new developments. New open space will be acquired in areas that need it most. Projects in our in our streets and Activity Centres will include canopy trees and water sensitive urban design.

Conserving water

Water is critical to ensure open spaces remain green and plantings survive hot summers. Watermap 2020 is Council’s Integrated Water Management Plan that outlines both corporate and community projects required to achieve improvements in stormwater quality and also water conservation. For example, Council is currently constructing a stormwater harvesting system at Hosken Reserve which will produce 10 million litres of water per annum to irrigate the reserve and reduce the urban heat island effect. These actions help reduce temperatures across the city and reduce the heat risk to people on very hot days.

Cool buildings, green roofs and walls

Cool roofs reflect the sun’s heat and reduce the amount of heat transferred to the building below and the surrounding environment. Cool buildings include green walls and facades, effective shading and insulation which improve the thermal comfort for occupants in extreme heat. Solar pergolas on a roof top can turn it into a cooler, comfortable space where plants can grow.

Through implementation of the Sustainable Buildings Policy, Council are applying the heat mitigation techniques to buildings across the municipality and encouraging it in new developments through Sustainable Design in the Planning Process.

Moreland Energy Foundation’s is a long term key partner for Council helping our community tackle Climate Change. Trees are important but take a long time to grow so the Positive Charge team are advising our community on saving energy and improving comfort in their home through actions that will have immediate effect like insulation, shading and cool roofs.

Cool roads, transport and roofs

Cool road and roof materials can increase the reflection on the sun’s rays and reduce the build up of urban heat. Cool roads are best located where people do not congregate because of increased UV reflectivity. We will be keeping an eye on the latest research on how cool road materials are used in Australia. We will be working with our industrial landowners to encourage the uptake of cool roofs.

By prioritising our tree planting to where it is needed most we hope to increase walking and cycling. We also intend to advocate for a reduction of traffic along Sydney Road and Lygon Street and promote electric vehicles to reduce waste heat from car exhaust. We already have six free publically available electric vehicle recharging points. We are also expanding the number of electric vehicles in Council’s fleet.

Working together

Council cannot deliver the Action Plan on its own. In order for Moreland to transition to a cooler, greener and more liveable city a collaborative effort and commitment from the whole Moreland community, including residents, businesses and community groups, as well as all levels of Government is required. Council is actively seeking partnerships and funding opportunities to progress a number of projects as well as providing support to encourage our community to take action.

Community consultation has demonstrated to us that advocacy to State Government authorities is very important – school infrastructure, naturalisation of Moonee Ponds creek, thermally comfortable social housing are very important to the community.

Active community members are already consulting their neighbours to get support for Council to plant more trees in street and are gardening, putting in tanks and planting trees. Council is committed to encouraging the community to take action on urban heat.


Council won the 2017 Premier’s Sustainability Award (Government Category) for the Moreland Urban Heat Island Effect Action Plan at a ceremony on 26 October 2017.

The recognition shows that Council is leading the way by addressing urban heat in a warming climate. See Moreland wins Premier’s Sustainability Award – Government Category for further details.