Urban heat island data for Chippendale

Average Temperatures by Time of Day – Period of Record: April 2010 – July 2011

We’re measuring the urban heat island in two Chippendale streets, Myrtle and Buckland.


In a partnership with Sydney City Council, our community and Professor Peter Newman’s Biophilic Cities project, we’re getting data of the temperature of the streets every five minutes.  Every 25 minutes the data is sent to a computer in Hobart using a data system developed by HydroTasmania called, Ajenti.  Anyone may obtain the data here:


For information on Peter’s work:




One street runs east-west  - Myrtle; and one runs north-south  - Buckland.  Both have black tar.   At the Myrtle data station there is almost no tree canopy cover and the buildings do not shade the street from the western sun.  At the Buckland street station, there is about 80 per cent tree cover and the buildings shade the road from the western sun.


Data collected from the system by an engineering student at UTS, Mat Faint, shows the Myrtle street data station area is 3 degrees hotter than Buckland throughout the day and night.  Thus, the black road and lack of tree cover and shading from the sun makes the temperature in that area 3 degrees hotter than if it were shaded by trees and the road was a pale colour.  (Think of the red and green bus lanes and of that media used but as a pale colour, or the freeway between Newcastle and Sydney which has pale surfacing for much of its length.)


Solutions, costs, designs and options for cutting the urban heat island in Chippendale and any city are in the draft plan, Sustainable Streets and Communities Plan, which the Council asked me to prepare.  It’s on the web, here:




Data in the Plan and research referenced there shows it can be cheaper for building owners and tenants, the local community and governments such as local councils to cool the streets than to cool the buildings.


Recently, Melbourne City Council published its own research showing pale roofs can cut heating costs.


Data from a Victorian Health agency report about the high number of deaths from the urban heat island confirms the Chippendale data; during the Black Friday bush fires in 2009 more than twice the number of people died in urban Melbourne from urban heat than were killed by the bush fires.  Here’s a graph showing the temperatures of some Melbourne suburbs during the heat wave; notice how it gets hotter where tall buildings are concentrated?

Spatial variability of the Melbourne Urban Heat Island (23 March, 2006 at 1:00am) Source: Victorian Department of Health, 2009

So Sydney’s CBD is several degrees hotter than it need be because of the urban design – money spent inside the buildings to make them energy efficient is spent because the buildings are seeking to compensate for the heat forced on them by urban designer, consultants, developers and councils thoughtlessly applying out of date road design ‘standards’.

Despite the data about the damage done by black roads, poor tree cover and dark roofs developers and councils are still building suburbs across Australia so they heat up by 3 to 10 degrees more than they need to.  I wonder what they understand by the words, “world best practice’, if they’re aware of them?  For a recent example of a typical subdivision being built and sold with black roads, poor tree cover and dark roofs – despite the data about the harm done by urban heat islands – have a look at this Google image :




Go the cool streets,



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  • Michael Mobbs

    Michael is a former Environmental Lawyer who is uniquely placed to consult in four main areas:

    • Sustainability Coach and Speaker,
    • Sustainable Urban Farm Design greening, watering and cooling the cityscape, roads, parks, suburbs,
    • Major Projects Consultant Commercial and Industrial,
    • Residential Sustainability Consultant.
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