Energy Saving Potentials and Air Quality Benefits of Urban HeatIslandMitigation
Energy Saving Potentials and Air Quality Benefits of Urban HeatIslandMitigation Urban areas tend to have higher air temperatures than their rural surroundings as a result of gradual surface modifications that include replacing the natural vegetation with buildings and roads. The term ''Urban Heat Island'' describes this phenomenon. The surfaces of buildings and pavements absorb solar radiation and become extremely hot, which in turn warm the surrounding air. Cities that have been ''paved over'' do not receive the benefit of the natural cooling effect of vegetation. As the air temperature rises, so does the demand for air-conditioning (a/c). This leads to higher emissions from power plants, as well as increased smog formation as a result of warmer temperatures. In the United States, we have found that this increase in air temperature is responsible for 5-10% of urban peak electric demand for a/c use, and as much as 20% of population-weighted smog concentrations in urban areas. Simple ways to cool the cities are the use of reflective surfaces (rooftops and pavements) and planting of urban vegetation. On a large scale, the evapotranspiration from vegetation and increased reflection of incoming solar radiation by reflective surfaces will cool a community a few degrees in the summer. As an example, computer simulations for Los Angeles, more »
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