Is urban heat island mitigation necessarily a worthy objective?

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Abstract

It has become an article of faith that a primary objective of applied urban climatology is to mitigate urban heat islands. There is irrefutable evidence for correlation between increasing air temperature and several negative outcomes, including increased energy consumption in buildings; impaired pedestrian thermal comfort; excess mortality during summer heat waves; and reduced urban air quality. Policies for UHI mitigation are promoted all over the world by bodies as diverse as the US EPA and the EU, with an urgency that is further justified by concerns about global warming. However, a policy focused on air temperature reduction as the objective of UHI mitigation measures may ‐ in some cases ‐ lead to policies that are at best ineffective or even counter‐productive in terms of their practical outcomes. In contrast, improving thermal comfort or conserving energy can be achieved even with no substantial reduction of air temperature. This requires an understanding of the inter‐related effects on the urban microclimate of street canyon dimensions, building density, paving materials and the effects of vegetation, as they relate to the local climate.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of 33rd PLEA International Conference
Subtitle of host publicationDesign to Thrive, PLEA 2017
EditorsLuisa Brotas, Sue Roaf, Fergus Nicol
PublisherNCEUB 2017 - Network for Comfort and Energy Use in Buildings
Pages1693-1700
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780992895754
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017
Event33rd International on Passive and Low Energy Architecture Conference: Design to Thrive, PLEA 2017 - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 2 Jul 20175 Jul 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings of 33rd PLEA International Conference: Design to Thrive, PLEA 2017
Volume2

Conference

Conference33rd International on Passive and Low Energy Architecture Conference: Design to Thrive, PLEA 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityEdinburgh
Period2/07/175/07/17

Keywords

  • Energy conservation
  • Thermal comfort
  • Urban microclimate
  • Vegetation

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