Chao Ren

Chao Ren
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Room 829, 8/F, Knowles Building, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road Hong Kong
Urban Climate Science for Planning Healthy Cities in Asia
Dr. Chao Ren
Associate Professor,
Faculty of Architecture,
The University of Hong Kong


Since 2006 more than half of the world’s population have become urban dwellers (UNFPA, 2007). Furthermore, by 2030, nearly 60% of humanity will live in cities and almost 9% of the world’s population will be living in just 41 megacities (UN, 2008). The rise of mega- and high-density compact cities are now irreversible trends of human urban development, especially in Asia (UNFPA, 2009). While Megacities and high-density urban living may make lives more convenient and society more economically efficient (Ng, 2009, 2012) they pose a range of environmental challenges, especially as increasingly dense, complex and interdependent urban systems leave cities vulnerable (WMO, 2012,2016) and sensitive to climate variability and change (Grimmond, 2010). Climate threats come mainly in the form of poor air quality(WMO, 2012), wind storms, heat waves, drought and floods. Flowing from these are a range of possible health impacts including death, physical injury, heat-related illness, vector and waterborne disease and mental illness (Grimmond, 2010; WHO, WMO& UNEP, 2003; WMO, 2016). The visibility of how climate affects cities and their infrastructure and inhabitants have generated wide-ranging concern from both the general public, local and national governments and international agencies. This ‘climate of concern’ has very much led to the emergence of the call for climate resilient and healthy cities especially as minds become focused on how climate change may have fundamental influences on how cities might have to plan for the future.

The study of urban climate has been developed since the nineteenth century due to the anthropogenic climate modification in the cities caused by global industrialization and urbanization process, with the focus to investigate the urban climatic phenomena such as urban heat island, urban energy budget, air pollution dispersion and urban ventilation (Landsberg, 1970; Stewart & Oke, 2012). The urban climate has great impacts on cities and their populations in terms of thermal comfort, air quality and wind environment. Although the research studies in the field of urban climatology have been largely expanded in the last two decades, the impact of urban climate knowledge in the urban planning and design practice is still very low (Eliasson, 2000), especially in Asian developing countries, like China (Ng & Ren, 2017).

The author will share her practical experience by introducing several governmental consultancy projects she involved and led in Asian high-density cities including Hong Kong, Macau, Wuhan, Changchun (China) and Kaohsiung (Taiwan). The presentation will not only look at the ways of urban climatic application methodologies and strategies (Ng & Ren, 2015) but also introduce the practical experience of application-based guideline development. For example, the new China National Technical Guide on ‘Urban Climatic Consideration in City Master Plan’ has been recently developed. Its focuses are urban ventilation assessment and wind corridor plan, urban greenery and thermal environment, allocation of industrial areas, renewable energy resources, rainfall and sponge city development, and as well as extreme events and corresponding anti-measures. It not only provides suggestions on data collection, methodology but also touches planning implementation and technical report preparation. The presentation will illustrate the idea of “Science in Time, Science in Place” and explain how to deliver a cross-disciplinary collaboration bridging the scientific world and the community of practice.

About the Speaker

Dr. Chao Ren is an Associate Professor in The Faculty of Architecture, The University of Hong Kong. Her research interest is Sustainable Urban and Environmental Design and Urban Climatic Application in Urban Planning. She has published widely in highly ranked journals and peer-reviewed conferences, focusing primarily on examining the relationship between urban climate and urban morphological characteristics, developing an urban climatic mapping system, and analysing urbanization-induced human thermal comfort and public health risk impacts for high-density/compact cities. She has edited and co-edited 3 books. One is The Urban Climatic Map: A Methodology for Sustainable Urban Planning (Routledge, 2015). Dr. Ren has involved in several governmental research projects in China (Hong Kong, Macau, Wuhan, and Beijing), Taiwan (Kaohsiung), The Netherlands (Arhem) and France (Toulouse) since 2006. She serves as editorial advisor for Cities & Health and an Associate Editor for Urban Climate. She is a board member of the International Association for Urban Climate (2017-2021). She is a registered BEAM Professional and has joined the Working Group of BEAM Society since 2011.



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