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Santiago Just Appointed the First Chief Heat Officer in South America

on March 10, 2022 at 1:41 pm under , , , , ,
Photo: [Photo: Adrienne Arsht/Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center]

A priority for the new role will be to address the water shortage in a city that’s faced a “megadrought” for more than a decade.

“One thing that we already know is,” she says with promise, “it’s going to be a green constitution.”

This massive political shift has formed the backdrop for the announcement of the world’s fourth Chief Heat Officer (CHO) for Chile’s capital, Santiago, a role dedicated to fighting extreme urban heat in the city and in South America generally. The new CHO, Cristina Huidobro, will collaborate with her counterparts in Miami, Athens, and Freetown, Sierra Leone, to usher in a range of evidence-based heat interventions for Santiago, as well as some that will address the city’s disastrous water shortage.

Huidobro will be assessing a variety of interventions to mitigate heat. One popular concept is increasing tree canopies, which provide shade as well as mental health benefits, an idea that’s taken off in the other CHO cities—Freetown is planting one million trees by the end of 2022. Cool pavements is another. An early assessment has shown that the difference in ground temperature between a shaded grass surface, and an unshaded asphalt surface can be up to 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit). The city will also be piloting green roofs, starting with 1,000 square meters of green roof on top of the Hospital de Maipú. Green roofs can reduce heat islands by 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and this iteration is also estimated to capture three tons of CO2 annually.

Huidobro hopes to work closely with the incoming national government, to codify long-term policies into law, and to influence the new constitution. “One thing that we already know is,” she says with promise, “it’s going to be a green constitution.”

Check out this awesome project in Puerto Natales, Chile:


Read more: Santiago just appointed the first Chief Heat Officer in South America


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