In 2021, Miami-Dade County received a challenge grant offer from the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation Resilience Center to fast start an extreme heat initiative under the Resilient305 program. This grant led to the creation of the world’s first Chief Heat Officer position. The Chief Heat Officer (CHO) is responsible for improving coordination, accelerating existing heat protection efforts, and initiating new work that reduces the risks and impacts of heat stress and extreme heat for vulnerable communities in Miami-Dade County. On behalf of Miami-Dade County and Resilient305, the CHO has developed and launched a multi-stakeholder Climate and Heat Health Task Force in partnership with The Miami Foundation to analyze existing conditions and vulnerabilities and identify strategies to address current and future impacts of extreme heat on human health, lives, and livelihoods.  

Climate and Heat Health Task Force

The Climate and Heat Health Task Force will prioritize short-term actions, create a framework for prioritizing future actions and for monitoring progress, and recommend staffing and other resource needs for implementation around extreme heat. 

 

 

To ensure community voices are heard and elevated, the Task Force is inviting the public to attend the following workshops and help improve our County’s preparation and response to extreme heat:

 

 

 

Outreach & Education – December 7 | 10:30 am

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Data & Research – January 11 | 10:30 am

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Emergency Preparedness & Response – January 25 | 10:30 am

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Workers Exposed to Heat – February 15 | 10:30 am

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Housing – March 8 | 10:30 am

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Streets & Trees – March 29 | 10:30 am –

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The Task Force is made up of appointed members representing policymakers, scientific experts, and health care professionals, as well as two citizen members:

 

– Jane Gilbert, Interim Chief Heat Officer, Resilient305/Miami-Dade County; Task Force Co-Chair

 

– Dr. Cheryl Holder, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusivity, and Community Initiatives, Associate Professor, Florida International University; Co-Founder, Florida Clinicians for Climate Health; Task Force Co-Chair

 

– Zelalem Adefris, Vice President of Policy & Advocacy, Catalyst Miami

 

– David Clodfelter, Director, Miami-Dade County Office of Management and Budget / Amy Horton-Tavera, Coordinator, Miami-Dade County Office of Management and Budget / Carlos Maxwell, Coordinator, Miami-Dade County Office of Management and Budget

 

– Aida Curtis, Landscape Architect & President, Curtis & Rogers Design Studio

 

– Robert Hevia, Assistant Chief & Emergency Manager, City of Miami

 

– Dr. H. Mary Leonce, LMHC, Professional Psychologist, Professor, Writer, Entrepreneur; Task Force Community Representative

 

– Omar Leon, Urban Forester, City of Miami Beach

 

– Oscar Londoño, Executive Director, WeCount!

 

– Gabriela Lopez, Manager, NEAT Streets, Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation

 

– Annie Lord, Executive Director, Miami Homes for All

 

– Katharine Mach, Department of Environmental Science and Policy, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami / Lynee Turek-Hankins, Doctoral student, Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy, University of Miami

 

Natalie Rivas, Climate Justice Research and Policy Manager, The Chisholm Legacy Project; Task Force Community Representative

 

– Dr. Pablo Santos, Meteorologist-in-Charge, National Weather Service, Miami/South Florida Forecast Office / Robert Molleda, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Weather Service, Miami/South Florida Forecast Office

 

– Dr. Yesenia Villalta, Administrator, Miami-Dade Office of Florida Department of Health / Samir M. Elmir, PhD, PE, BCEE, CEHP, Division Director, Environmental Health and Engineering

Why Extreme Heat?

According to the National Weather Service, excessive heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States. This is especially true in urban centers, where population density and building construction exacerbate the effects of excessive heat.  

 

Since 1970, Miami-Dade County has had an average increase of days above 90°F from 84 to now 133 days per year and this will continue to rise. With an average humidity in the summer of 65-70% depending on the month, a temperature of 90°F equates to a heat index of at least 103°F, which is dangerous for anyone spending time outdoors for work, athletic or recreational activities, taking public transit, walking, or biking. It is especially dangerous for our elderly, young children, pregnant women, people on certain medications, and/or those with heart or lung conditions.   

 

Higher temperatures also raise the cost to keep our homes and buildings cool. For lower-income residents, this often results in having to make difficult choices around when and how long to use their air conditioning. The combination of hurricanes and heat presents a critical threat to the safety of the residents of our County.

Goals for Addressing Extreme Heat 

The Chief Heat Officer, with the guidance of the Climate and Heat Health Task Force, will create and implement an interdepartmental and community-wide plan for addressing the increasing risks to human health, lives, and livelihoods of extreme heat. This plan will be integrated and aligned with other County and regional plans focused on improving coordination, accelerating existing initiatives, and creating new policies and programs to:  

 

– Improve public and employer education and awareness of heat-health risks and how to avoid heat-related illnesses 

 

– Expand emergency management and healthcare capacity to prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths 

 

– Increase access to affordable, efficient, and reliable air-conditioning through expanded weatherization and housing retrofit programs 

 

– Integrate heat-related considerations in the designs and maintenance of our streetscapes, parks, and open spaces 

Extreme Heat Toolkit 

In collaboration with the USDN equity diversity and inclusion fellow and the Miami-Dade County Office of Resilience, Miami-Dade County’s Extreme Heat Toolkit was developed based on engagement with a wide variety of stakeholders. The goal of the toolkit is to provide a high-level briefing of various policy and project options identified by our community to adapt to and mitigate extreme heat.  

 

The toolkit is designed as a stepping stone to the County’s broader efforts to address extreme heat and the impacts of climate change. It is meant to be a helpful resource to policymakers and community leaders to help orient and organize the County’s future work in this space. 

The Miami Foundation