Assessing the Vulnerability of Communities to Heat Waves: Developing a Heat Vulnerability Index

Ghiwa Assaf, Rayan H. Assaad

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The construction of projects and buildings in urban areas leads to major transformation in the urban surfaces, where natural, pervious surfaces are transformed into rough, impermeable surfaces. This transformation leads to different environmental risks including the urban heat island (UHI) effect. Not all urban areas are equally affected by the UHI effect, which makes some areas more vulnerable to extreme heat waves. Thus, this paper develops a heat vulnerability index based on demographic, land use/land cover (LULC), meteorological, and geographic factors to assess heat vulnerability of communities. First, data for multiple meteorological, demographic, geographic, and LULC factors was collected. Second, four vulnerability sub-indices were developed. Third, the heat vulnerability index was developed as a weighted average of the four sub-indices, where the principal component analysis (PCA) method was implemented to calculate the weights of the factors as well as the sub-indices. The results reflected that LULC factors have the greatest impact on assessing heat vulnerability of communities. This research adds to the body of knowledge by helping authorities and decision-makers identify heat-vulnerable communities and ultimately developing immediate adaptation and mitigation plans for areas identified as highly vulnerable to heat events to address future harm from high temperatures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSustainability, Resilience, Infrastructure Systems, and Materials Design in Construction
EditorsJennifer S. Shane, Katherine M. Madson, Yunjeong Mo, Cristina Poleacovschi, Roy E. Sturgill
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780784485279
StatePublished - 2024
EventConstruction Research Congress 2024, CRC 2024 - Des Moines, United States
Duration: Mar 20 2024Mar 23 2024

Publication series

NameConstruction Research Congress 2024, CRC 2024


ConferenceConstruction Research Congress 2024, CRC 2024
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityDes Moines

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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