Key takeaways

  • UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation will be a founding partner of the Center of Excellence for Heat Resilient Communities, a knowledge-sharing hub to identify and evaluate policies, protocols and lessons for heat resilience.
  • The Center of Excellence, funded by a $2.25 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will focus on strategies for local, data-driven heat mitigation and management in disadvantaged communities.
  • UCLA will lead the effort in collaboration with Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and more than 50 other partners.

Rising temperatures and more frequent, prolonged heat waves present a growing and inequitable threat to the health, economies, and security of communities everywhere, yet heat governance remains underdeveloped.

The UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation has been awarded a $2.25 million grant to establish a Center of Excellence for Heat Resilient Communities. Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Integrated Heat Health Information System, the new center — one of two federal centers to be established with $4.55 million in financing from the Inflation Reduction Act — will engage and support communities in determining the best strategies for local heat mitigation and management.

“Some communities have begun to plan for heat, but most lack the capacity or resources to engage in comprehensive planning,” said center associate director V. Kelly Turner, who leads the Luskin Center for Innovation’s heat equity research and has long called for a coordinated national approach to heat resilience. “With this grant, we can help the federal government establish a robust, actionable and durable plan to support those efforts.”  

Turner’s co-leads for this project are Sara Meerow at Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability and Innovation and Ladd Keith, assistant professor and faculty research associate at the University of Arizona’s Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy. With more than 50 other partners, the grant will enable the creation of an international network of heat scholars and practitioners. One outcome will be a framework to identify and evaluate policies, protocols and lessons for heat resilience that can be applied in the U.S. and internationally. 

Thirty communities and tribal entities will be selected for direct technical assistance and comprehensive educational support during the three-year grant period. By centering equity in its approach, the Center for Excellence will systematically work with and fund historically excluded communities and help see through the Biden administration’s goals under Justice40, an executive order that directs 40% of the government’s investments in climate and clean infrastructure to benefit people in disadvantaged communities. This will broaden the impact and benefits of engagement, heat data and information and other approaches, like benefit-cost analysis, to inform effective and equitable planning for heat resilience. 

The ultimate goal is to protect public health and well-being from acute and chronic heat dangers through equity-centered, data-informed, whole-of-government approaches to mitigate and manage heat in diverse communities and heat-exposure settings.

The Center of Excellence for Heat Resilient Communities is part of President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The complementary Center for Collaborative Heat Monitoring, to be led by the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, N.C., will assist community-serving organizations in conducting local climate and health studies.

“The impacts of extreme heat caused by climate change are an increasing threat to our health, ecosystems and economy,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said. “Thanks to President Biden’s ambitious climate agenda, this investment will support new NIHHIS Centers of Excellence to help protect historically excluded communities from the dangers of extreme heat, boost climate resilience, and increase awareness on best practices to tackle the climate crisis.”

Read more about how the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation’s research informs heat equity solutions to improve human well-being and quality of life.

Learn more about extreme heat on UCLA Newsroom.