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Life Cycle Assessment of Ecosystem Services for Phoenix’s Building Stock

Description

Better methods are necessary to fully account for anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems and the essential services provided by ecosystems that sustain human life. Current methods for assessing sustainability, such as life cycle assessment (LCA), typically focus on easily quantifiable indicators

Better methods are necessary to fully account for anthropogenic impacts on ecosystems and the essential services provided by ecosystems that sustain human life. Current methods for assessing sustainability, such as life cycle assessment (LCA), typically focus on easily quantifiable indicators such as air emissions with no accounting for the essential ecosystem benefits that support human or industrial processes. For this reason, more comprehensive, transparent, and robust methods are necessary for holistic understanding of urban technosphere and ecosphere systems, including their interfaces. Incorporating ecosystem service indicators into LCA is an important step in spanning this knowledge gap.

For urban systems, many built environment processes have been investigated but need to be expanded with life cycle assessment for understanding ecosphere impacts. To pilot these new methods, a material inventory of the building infrastructure of Phoenix, Arizona can be coupled with LCA to gain perspective on the impacts assessment for built structures in Phoenix. This inventory will identify the origins of materials stocks, and the solid and air emissions waste associated with their raw material extraction, processing, and construction and identify key areas of future research necessary to fully account for ecosystem services in urban sustainability assessments. Based on this preliminary study, the ecosystem service impacts of metropolitan Phoenix stretch far beyond the county boundaries. A life cycle accounting of the Phoenix’s embedded building materials will inform policy and decision makers, assist with community education, and inform the urban sustainability community of consequences.

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Optimizing the effect of vegetation for pedestrian thermal comfort and urban heat island mitigation in a hot arid urban environment

Description

Rapid urbanization in Phoenix, Arizona has increased the nighttime temperature by 5°C (9 °F), and the average daily temperatures by 3.1°C (5.6 °F) (Baker et al 2002). On the macro scale, the energy balance of urban surface paving materials is

Rapid urbanization in Phoenix, Arizona has increased the nighttime temperature by 5°C (9 °F), and the average daily temperatures by 3.1°C (5.6 °F) (Baker et al 2002). On the macro scale, the energy balance of urban surface paving materials is the main contributor to the phenomenon of the Urban Heat Island effect (UHI). On the micro scale, it results in a negative effect on the pedestrian thermal comfort environment. In their efforts to revitalize Downtown Phoenix, pedestrian thermal comfort improvements became one of the main aims for City planners. There has been an effort in reformulating City zoning standards and building codes with the goal of developing a pedestrian friendly civic environment. Much of the literature dealing with mitigating UHI effects recommends extensive tree planting as the chief strategy for reducing the UHI and improving outdoor human thermal comfort. On the pedestrian scale, vegetation plays a significant role in modifying the microclimate by providing shade and aiding the human thermal comfort via evapotranspiration. However, while the extensive tree canopy is beneficial in providing daytime shade for pedestrians, it may reduce the pavement surfaces' sky-view factor during the night, thereby reducing the rate of nighttime radiation to the sky and trapping the heat gained within the urban materials. This study strives to extend the understanding, and optimize the recommendations for the use of landscape in the urban context of Phoenix, Arizona for effectiveness in both improving the human thermal comfort and in mitigating the urban heat island effect.

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Date Created
2014

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Thermal Performance of PNIPAm as an Evaporative Cooling Medium within a Ventilated Wall Cavity

Description

Learning from the anatomy of leaves, a new approach to bio-inspired passive evaporative cooling is presented that utilizes the temperature-responsive properties of PNIPAm hydrogels. Specifically, an experimental evaporation rate from the polymer, PNIPAm, is determined within an environmental chamber, which

Learning from the anatomy of leaves, a new approach to bio-inspired passive evaporative cooling is presented that utilizes the temperature-responsive properties of PNIPAm hydrogels. Specifically, an experimental evaporation rate from the polymer, PNIPAm, is determined within an environmental chamber, which is programmed to simulate temperature and humidity conditions common in Phoenix, Arizona in the summer. This evaporation rate is then used to determine the theoretical heat transfer through a layer of PNIPAm that is attached to an exterior wall of a building within a ventilated cavity in Phoenix. The evaporation of water to the air gap from the polymer layer absorbs heat that could otherwise be conducted to the interior space of the building and then dispels it as a vapor away from the building. The results indicate that the addition of the PNIPAm layer removes all heat radiated from the exterior cladding, indicating that it could significantly reduce the demand for air conditioning at the interior side of the wall to which it is attached.

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Date Created
2018