Critical areas of a major street in Paramatta could be cooled by up to two degrees Celsius after a study found that increasing greenery and shading and installing water features could reduce urban heat.

Funded by the City of Parramatta and the CRC for Low Carbon Living and undertaken in collaboration with the University of New South Wales, the research used a mobile van laboratory along with thermal imaging provided by a drone to study thermal conditions  of various areas within Phillip Street which runs through the main downtown of the city and to produce a ‘heat map’ showing various areas which are hotter and cooler.

It found that temperatures in the eastern end of the street closer to the river were typically one to two degrees cooler compared with those observed in the street’s west.

The research also showed that specific areas where larger buildings and patches of concrete were present were retaining much of their heat overnight and were not cooling down.

Using this information, CRCLC researcher Professor Mat Santamouris said the team were able to target particular hot-spots and to design specific strategies to mitigate urban heat island effects in these areas.

Mitigation strategies included new shading structures; green roofs, walls and facades; water features such as fountains, sprinklers and ponds; and the use of special reflective materials to cool down pavements without creating glare.

Through these measures, the team identified that thermal comfort could be improved by 50 to 60 percent and that ambient temperatures could be reduced by around one to two degrees Celsius.

The study’s findings will inform aspects of Council’s plans to upgrade the street.

Proposed additions included in the $4.3 million first stage of construction include wider footpaths, tree planting, and trialling of misting units and cool pavements.

The UNSW and the CRC for Low Carbon Living used thermal imaging to identify ‘hot spots’ in Phillip Street, Parramatta.

City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Wilson welcomed the study’s findings.

Wilson says temperatures in Parramatta can be hotter compared with those on the eastern seaboard to the tune of five to ten percent.

As the city’s population increases and more buildings and concrete are put in place, he says cooling measures will be needed to maintain liveability.

Strategies identified in the study may have wider benefits for the area of Greater Western Sydney, which is expected to absorb around two-thirds of the Sydney Metropolitan Area’s growth over the next twenty years and the population of which is expected to grow from 1.9 million to three million by 2036.