Hopkins Heat Vulnerability

The City of Hopkins received a grant from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to develop strategies that reduce the negative impacts of extreme heat, which disproportionately affect residents of color and low-income residents. 

The City has engaged residents, property owners, and others to gain a better understanding of what concerns people have and how they would like to address extreme heat events. 

View the final report and StoryMap

Why is it getting hotter? 

Climate change is causing global temperatures to rise. In Minnesota, we have observed average annual temperatures rising and an increase in the number of days that exceed 90 degrees. Temperatures and extreme heat events are expected to increase into the future and pose a health and safety risk to vulnerable residents and workers. Hopkins is working preemptively to understand how people will be impacted by these extremes and what can be done to keep everyone safe. 

Urban Heat Islands

Urban heat islands happen because of the way cities are built — materials like asphalt absorb and retain heat from the sun, which warms the surrounding area and makes it harder to cool off at night. Urban areas with low vegetation and hard, dark surfaces (such as asphalt) can be up to 15 degrees hotter than surrounding areas. 

The Blake Road and Excelsior Boulevard corridors have been identified by the Metropolitan Council as areas that are especially vulnerable to extreme heat events due to low tree canopy coverage and high impervious and heat-absorbing surfaces. These corridors are also home to a large majority of city rental housing stock as well as many immigrant, BIPOC, and low-income renters. 

Who is most vulnerable to extreme heat events? 

Extreme heat can be dangerous to everyone, but some people are more vulnerable than others. People who spend the most time outdoors can be among the most vulnerable. This includes people who work outside and those who are experiencing homelessness. 

People who do not have access to or cannot afford air conditioning may be more susceptible to heat because they are unable to cool off at night. Adults and children who have preexisting health issues can also be at high risk for heat-related health problems. Older adults are vulnerable to heat strokes and other health impacts because their bodies may be less able to respond to extreme heat. Often, the most vulnerable people to extreme heat are older adults who live alone and don’t have access to air conditioning. 

Historic underinvestment in greenspace and tree planting in communities of color and low-income communities has resulted in hotter urban temperatures and increased vulnerability to heat-related danger. 

Understanding different vulnerabilities to heat can help the city and residents direct strategies to strengthen the resilience of community members who are most vulnerable to extreme heat. 

Engagement Process

Engaging with people throughout the community is key to knowing how people respond to and prepare for extreme heat. Throughout this project, the City of Hopkins has engaged residents at events like National Night Out and the Farmers Market. Residents were also invited to an event at Sambusa King to learn more about this project and provide their feedback. 

A focus group was held with other local governments to learn more about what they are doing to address extreme heat. The City has also begun one-on-one conversations with large property owners to identify opportunities to partner on reducing urban heat island effect. 

What’s next?

The City of Hopkins will utilize the recommendation provided in the StoryMap to implement strategies to reduce urban heat island effect. 

Follow the Sustainability webpage for updates.