The Southwest Climate Change Network states that Tucson's urban temperatures are approximately 5.5°F warmer than they were in the last century, with more than 3.5°F of the warming occurring in the last 30 years, and that in the Tucson area, urban temperatures increased approximately 3 times more than rural temperatures. Southern metropolitan Tucson is particularly susceptible to increased temperatures compared to most of Tucson as shown on the vulnerability map. It gives vulnerable areas in red based on the lack of tree canopy, high surface temperatures and heat vulnerability. Our current target area for our pilot projects is outlined is light blue. (Map prepared 9/2013 by the Pima Association of Governments, City of Tucson, and the University of Arizona Department of Geography.)
Shade Tree Program
Together with the Trees for Tucson program of Tucson Clean & Beautiful, Inc., we have provided over 1,500 shade trees to low-income families. We’ve improved resident’s understanding of the benefits of trees and their role in reducing urban temperatures through Tree Care Workshops, home visits and neighborhood walks. We enhanced the technical skills of community members by funding seven community members for the Urban Forestry Certificate Program. To help us provide additional trees to low-income families and increase Tucson’s urban tree canopy, contribute to Trees for Tucson.
A new SERI initiative is developing a solar energy program for low-income communities. As with rainwater harvesting systems many low-income families cannot pay the upfront costs to install solar energy, yet these families are often paying a higher percentage of their income toward energy costs than families in general. Investing in a solar program will help low-income families save money and help move toward a sustainable community
Many of our programs are scalable globally for communities with similar problems. We are beginning to work with communities in Africa on implementing similar programs as we have in southern Arizona. Communities are particularly interested in expanding the role of community health workers.