The South Carolina Public Health Association (SCPHA) is actively combating the urban heat island effect, as highlighted in the 2022 Heat Watch Report by CAPA Strategies, LLC. This report underscores the urgency of addressing the significant temperature gap of 18.5 degrees between downtown Columbia and its outskirts.

Through partnerships with the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the Smart Surfaces Coalition, SCPHA's Smart Surfaces team is educating and advocating for innovative solutions like rain gardens, solar panels, and porous pavements in Columbia's urban areas. To garner support, these efforts were showcased at the SCPHA Annual 2024 Conference in Myrtle Beach.

Our initiatives are expected to yield significant outcomes, including increased green space, improved urban planning, heightened public awareness, and the cultivation of more Smart Surfaces. Through collaboration with partners such as the Smart Surfaces Coalition, the City of Columbia, and academic institutions, SCPHA is working towards a cooler, more sustainable urban environment.

SCPHA Smart Surfaces Core Team Information


What are Smart Surfaces?

What are Smart Surfaces?

 Click through the slideshow to learn more. 

Smart Surfaces / APHP Fact sheet


SCPHA 2024 Annual Conference

Smart Surfaces team at outreach table with resourcesThe South Carolina Public Health Association (SCPHA) envisions a cooler Columbia through the Smart Surfaces project. At the SCPHA Annual 2024 Conference, the SCPHA Smart Surfaces Team served as exhibitors, educating attendees about the advantages of smart surfaces for both health and the environment. 

To address extreme heat, Smart Surfaces Team provided protective gear for 400 participants for the SCPHA Annual Conference: sunglasses, sunscreen, and mosquito repellant bracelet. 

SCPHA Focus Groups

Image of group of people sitting around a table looking at a screen during ocus group sessionThe Smart Surfaces Team at the South Carolina Public Health Association (SCPHA) is launching a series of focus groups to tackle the urgent problem of extreme heat in Columbia. Our goal is to explore the firsthand experiences and viewpoints of Columbia residents regarding urban heat islands and their impact on the environment and public health. Furthermore, we aim to gauge residents' knowledge and attitudes toward innovative smart surface solutions like solar panels, rain gardens, and porous pavements, assessing their perceived effectiveness in addressing the challenges presented by extreme heat.

The first focus group took place on April 9th at the University of South Carolina Office of Sustainability. Participants discussed cooling strategies, the impact of zoning and urbanization projects on heat, energy cost burdens, and the health effects of heat on the body. The consensus of the focus group was that local and city-level attention should be directed toward addressing the adverse impacts of rising and prolonged temperatures.

News Releases

Federal Action Towards Extreme Heat

Other Resources