On July 24, the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability released the Hunting Park Community Heat Relief Plan as part of the Beat the Heat pilot project, which was created in 2018 to promote heat resiliency in communities that experience higher-than-average temperatures. Some neighborhoods in Philly can get up 22 degrees hotter than others. The Heat Vulnerability Index shows that across the city, Black, Hispanic, and other residents of color are more likely to live in the hottest neighborhoods.

Created in collaboration with City departments and residents, community groups, and organizations in Hunting Park, the plan informs residents about the underlying causes of extreme heat while creating a pathway toward holistic short- and long-term, resident-driven solutions. Recommendations from the plan are grouped into three priority areas:

  1. Staying cool and safe at home
  2. Staying cool and safe in public spaces
  3. Greening and tree planting

Interested in forming a Beat the Heat project in your community? Follow the 10 steps below:


Mother and son pose with flower and sunglasses prop during the 2019 Science Festival Carnival

Step 1: Background Research

From tree plantings to phone trees, planning for extreme heat can take on many forms. When designing your project, it’s good to get a sense of how climate change is impacting Philadelphia and the specific challenges your community faces.

Step 2: Establish a Heat Team

Reach out to local individuals, groups, and organizations to find out if people are doing similar work. Make sure to include City agencies that can help you create and implement your plan.


Step 3: Hold Stakeholder Interviews

Interviews are a great way to learn about people’s experiences with heat and the solutions they would like to see in their neighborhood. The surveys in Hunting Park were available in both English and Spanish.

Step 4: Do a Neighborhood Survey

A neighborhood survey will help your group collect a lot of information with minimal effort. Surveys can be collected at community events and administered door to door or at schools and local businesses.


Two young girls stand behind the Beat the Heat activity station at an event in Hunting Park. They're holding "cool Philadelphia" hand fans and a sign that says "where do you stay cool in the heat?"

Step 5: Organize Community Events

Fun, family-friendly events attract people of all ages. Plan ahead to schedule events your group can attend. Collect surveys, talk to people about their ideas, share cooling resources, and host a low-cost craft activity.


Step 6: Appoint Beat the Heat Ambassadors

Recruit a team leader to organize a team to engage the community in the creation of the neighborhood heat relief plan.


Step 7: Create a Beat the Heat Mobile Station

At community events, you’ll want to have a way to attract people to your table. Low-cost craft activities are a great way to engage people in a hands-on activity while exchanging information and resources.

Step 8: Hold a Beat the Heat Design Workshop

Support residents to determine what interventions are needed and where they are needed. Possible interventions include tree plantings, cool roofs, cooling centers, and bus shelters.


Jose Ferran shares his group's map from the Beat the Heat Design Workshop. There are four people looking on in the background and a map of Hunting Park on the table

Step 9:  Promote Trees and Neighborhood Greening

Tree plantings decrease neighborhood temperatures and help with beautification efforts. Work with your group to coordinate the planting of yard and street trees.

Step 10: Build a Heat Relief Network

Through interviews, surveys, and informal conversations you will likely figure out where people go to keep cool. Map existing neighborhood cooling assets and identify where new ones can be added.


Moving forward, the Office of Sustainability, the City Heat Team, and Hunting Park community partners are committed to continuing to address high heat and heat disparities both in Hunting Park and citywide. Follow #BeatTheHeat to stay up to date!