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World’s first chief heat officer tackles how to protect Miamians from extreme heat

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Codes and Standards

World’s first chief heat officer tackles how to protect Miamians from extreme heat

Focus on chronic exposure for outdoor workers and for those that can’t afford AC.

By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | November 1, 2021

Courtesy Pixabay

Jane Gilbert, Miami-Dade County’s chief heat officer, the world’s first government official to hold such a title, is examining multiple measures to protect people from extreme heat.

Among the possible remedies is a change to building codes to require cool roofs and cool pavement surfaces. Those changes could take years to implement, though.

In the shorter term, Gilbert is shoring up plans for cooling centers at public facilities including libraries and parks. A campaign to plant more trees is also underway. In addition, her staff is educating the community about when to expect the threat of heat stress and how to cope with it.

About 90% of the county’s residents have air conditioning. Those who lack it are the most vulnerable along with outdoor workers and workers laboring in hot conditions. Gilbert is focusing on how to protect those cohorts.

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