In our changing climate, summers are getting hotter. Heat waves will also occur more often and will be more severe in the coming years. In many European cities and urban areas, hot weather causes heat stress, with major consequences for public health and the quality of life. Changes are needed in public space to reduce heat stress.

Spatial adaptation is a key way to make towns climate proof, while also improving the quality of life and increasing attractiveness. Planting trees, hanging shade sails, creating green facades and adding water elements can be effective measures against heat stress. This doesn’t just keep places cooler, but can also provide added benefits. For example, more green spaces can support biodiversity, improve flood resilience and combat drought.

Cities do not yet have sufficient insight into the heat problem itself and the effectiveness of the various measures. Policymakers, spatial designers and other experts can benefit from additional knowledge and practical tools to properly tackle heat stress.

In the Cool Towns project, 13 European partners are working together on a suite of tools and pilots to support the decision-making process for taking spatial heat stress interventions. Solutions that make towns climate proof in a changing climate are explored, developed and implemented.