Using green infrastructure to reduce urban heat islands and building energy use

Authors: Dana Habeeb, Indiana University, Alexander Hayes, Indiana University, April Byrne, Indiana University, Conor Nolan, Indiana University, Samantha Hamlin*, Indiana University
Topics: Urban Geography, Environment
Keywords: Green infrastructure, urban heat islands, building energy
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 7
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the United States, buildings account for approximately 40% of our energy consumption, utilize 70% of our electricity, and are responsible for approximately one third of our total greenhouse gas emissions. Green infrastructure, including greenspace and shade trees, are one way to reduce building energy demands. While green infrastructure and tree canopy can shield buildings from high winds, requiring less energy for heating, trees and greenspace are often utilized in urban areas to reduce urban heat islands in the summer by shading buildings and intercepting solar radiation. This research examines how trees and greenspace affect energy use in six buildings on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington, IN. We are examining hourly energy data using time series data during both summer and winter seasons, 2016-2019. Buildings were selected based on similar construction, but sited within different landscapes (e.g., number of trees, amount of greenspace, percentage of impervious surface). Using climate and vegetation data with building characteristics and local environmental conditions, we are creating historical and real-time models to better understand relationships between building energy and green infrastructure. With increasing number of campuses and municipalities addressing sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction, this research can help evaluate ecosystem services for strategic planning. This research can help land owners understand how tree canopy can reduce energy costs for cooling while simultaneously reducing heat islands, as well as supporting and validating municipal planning efforts to increase tree plantings for shade, cooling, and other benefits.

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