DIALOG and Buro Happold release new study as component of Toronto’s climate action efforts

Toronto-based architecture firm DIALOG and engineers Buro Happold recently released a study meant to serve as one of the foundational climate action pieces from the City of Toronto’s City Planning Division.

Photo credit: Green_Grey Darya

Toronto-based architecture firm DIALOG and engineers Buro Happold recently conducted a Thermal Comforts Study; one of the foundational climate action pieces completed as part of a collaborative project with the City of Toronto’s City Planning Division.

The Thermal Comforts Study focused on several factors, including solar access, shade, the urban forest, wind, water, and cool materials. One of the key findings of the study was that July 15th was projected as the hottest day of the year.

In early 2022, DIALOG and Buro Happold, the Consultant Team, were hired to collaborate with City Planning on this study. The City has also assembled a team of professionals from various City Divisions and Agencies.

Ensuring the quality and comfort of the city’s public spaces has gained heightened significance due to their role in serving and providing enjoyment to all city dwellers. As climate change intensifies extreme heat events, which are occurring more frequently, it is crucial to integrate thermal comfort considerations into the planning of the public realm. This approach is essential for building resilience in the city and adapting to changing climatic conditions.

The Study is based in part on a Thermal Comforts Survey, which identifies the seasons and specific times when people feel comfortable or uncomfortable, as well as their preferred outdoor spaces for leisure activities. The survey was initiated in July 2022 and received responses from 556 individuals over the course of 35 weeks.

Key findings include the need to address the requirements for maintaining a healthy tree canopy in urban areas. Specific conditions, such as sunlight, moisture, and healthy soil, are necessary for urban trees to thrive.

The study also emphasized the importance of examining the impact of water sources in terms of their cooling potential during summer and the potential adverse effects during winter. Strategies for harnessing water sources for cooling purposes should be considered.

Additionally, the study recommended the replacement of artificial surfaces with vegetation, which can aid in storm management by retaining and absorbing water. This approach increases soil moisture content and enables the growth of vegetation, particularly trees, which contribute to the cooling of the surrounding microclimate.

The study is expected to be completed this fall.