New York City makes no sense on paper. It is expensive to get into, expensive to live in, yet crowded and dirty. The heat is overwhelming in the summer while in the winter the wind effect among all those buildings cut can through your parka.

There is no way to undo its monocentric development now, like California, New York is suffering a wealth and marriage diaspora for better tax and family environments, and “polycentric” spatial patterns may solve both those problems.

By distributing the density of urban cores and curb the sprawl of impervious, heat-absorbing surfaces, polycentric development can moderate the urban heat island effect, when built-up areas can be several degrees hotter than surrounding rural areas – a potentially dangerous phenomenon during heat waves, especially in Europe and coastal US cities where a fixation on alternatives to conventional energy have made electricity a luxury for the poor.

The analysis was done using 50 cities in Germany and found that smaller, decentralized open spaces across a metropolitan area are more effective at reducing urban heat compared with a larger, more centralized green space pattern like Central Park. It reveals that a doubling (100%) of the polycentricity degree corresponds to a significant decrease in both day- and night-time  urban heat island effects, with reductions of 10.4% and 24.6%, respectively.

“There are many other benefits to doing that – limiting sprawl, concentrating population and economic activity, promoting public transit use and increasing affordable housing,” says Stephan Schmidt, associate professor of city and regional planning at Cornell University. “And in addition, you’ll have this positive impact on the metropolitan-scale heat island effect.”