Role of green roofs in reducing heat stress in vulnerable urban communities—a multidisciplinary approach

A Sharma, S Woodruff, M Budhathoki, A F Hamlet, F Chen and H J S Fernando (2018). “Role of green roofs in reducing heat stress in vulnerable urban communities—a multidisciplinary approach.” Environmental Research Letters 13(9), 094011.

Abstract: Green infrastructure, such as green roofs, is increasingly being used to reduce ‘heat stresses’ associated with urban heat island effects. This article discusses strategies to identify vulnerable neighborhoods in the City of Chicago, where green roofs could achieve multiple goals to mitigate urban heat-related challenges. Numerical simulations were performed using the urbanized version of the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting model to predict rooftop temperatures, a representative variable for exposure in this study. The model was dynamically coupled with a physically-based green rooftop algorithm as a part of the urban parameterization within the model. Our approach integrates information from multiple sources: social vulnerability indices (a function of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity), high-resolution temperature simulations over the urban area, and observed electricity (air conditioning) consumption data. The social vulnerability indicators were used to develop a quantitative heat vulnerability index for Chicago. We found that an analysis of multiple drivers is needed to identify neighborhoods that will likely benefit from mitigation strategies like green roofs. Our case study identified a large number of census tracts in south and west Chicago, along with isolated tracts throughout the city that would strongly benefit from green roof implementation. The tools and methodology from this study can be easily adopted for other urban regions and would be informative for stakeholders and managers, in general, in making adaptation strategies for extreme heat management.

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