Canberra’s City Renewal Authority is conducting a thermal comfort study to measure outdoor heat in locations across the city centre with the aid of an Australian-first robot named MaRTy.
The study is being led by Mosaic Insights and the Climate-Resilient Cities Lab at the University of NSW, who are experts in green infrastructure planning and urban climate science. The robot is the only tool of its kind in Australia.
Executive Branch Manager of Design and Place Strategy, Lucy Wilson said the study will help the City Renewal Authority plan for outdoor spaces in the city centre that are cool and pleasant for residents, workers and visitors.
“The City Renewal Authority is committed to invigorating and revitalising the City Centre, but it is important to ensure that new developments also provide comfortable outdoor spaces,” Ms Wilson said.
“This study will help us understand the current temperatures and heat conditions in locations across the City Centre.
“The measurements are being taken in February in the heart of summer, as this is the time of year that people’s outdoor comfort is most affected by hot conditions.
“This knowledge will help us reduce the heat impact through climate-wise design. We will also be able to measure improvements in outdoor thermal comfort over time.”
Levels of urban heat in the City Centre are being measured using a heat monitoring robot named MaRTy. The technology was developed in 2016 in Phoenix Arizona and MaRTy is the only tool of its kind in Australia.
The name MaRTy refers to ‘mean radiant temperature’. MaRTy simulates the way the human body experiences heat in cities and measures air temperature, humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation.
Dr Negin Nazarian from University of New South Wales explained, “The urban heat island effect is the change brought about through urbanisation, buildings, roads and infrastructure. When combined with hotter average temperatures through climate change, it is increasingly important to use design strategies to reduce the urban heat effect.
“In urban environments, radiation and heat reaches us from direct sunlight but reflected sunlight also reaches us from surfaces.
“Many built materials such as bricks, asphalt and concrete amplify the strength of reflected heat from the sun while features like shade, greenery and water bodies can reduce heat.”
General Manager at Mosaic Insights, Jan Orton, praised the City Renewal Authority for “delivering important data-driven urban and landscape upgrades”.
“It is critical that we use data and evidence to inform how our cities and landscapes are designed so they can be as cool as possible and can function into the future in a climate changed world,” she said.
MaRTy is measuring heat levels and pedestrian comfort in seven locations across the City Centre and Dickson Shops.