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Tree and Shade: City of Phoenix Master Plan

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Creating a Healthier, More Livable and Prosperous Phoenix

Phoenix is poised to become the next great American City. The Tree and Shade Master Plan presents Phoenix’s leaders and residents a roadmap to creating a 21st Century desert city. The urban forest

Creating a Healthier, More Livable and Prosperous Phoenix

Phoenix is poised to become the next great American City. The Tree and Shade Master Plan presents Phoenix’s leaders and residents a roadmap to creating a 21st Century desert city. The urban forest is a keystone to creating a sustainable city because it solves many problems with one single solution. By investing in trees and the urban forest, the city can reduce its carbon footprint, decrease energy costs, reduce storm water runoff, increase biodiversity, address the urban heat island effect, clean the air, and increase property values. In addition, trees can help to create walkable streets and vibrant pedestrian places. More trees will not solve all the problems, but it is known that for every dollar invested in the urban forest results in an impressive return of $2.23 in benefits.

Phoenix has a strong foundation on which to build the future. Phoenix residents value natural resources and have voted repeatedly to invest in the living infrastructure. For instance, the Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative was passed twice with over 75 percent voter approval. This modest sales tax has purchased land for the Sonoran Preserve, funded habitat restoration efforts along Rio Salado, built new parks and planted hundreds of new trees. These projects and others like it provide the base for a healthy urban forest. Trees and engineered shade have the potential to be one of the city’s greatest assets and the Tree and Shade Master Plan provides the framework for creating a healthier, more livable and prosperous Phoenix.

The Urban Forest – Trees for People

The urban forest is a critical component of the living infrastructure. It benefits and attracts residents and tourists alike to live, work, shop and play in the city. Phoenix’s urban forest is a diverse ecosystem of soils, vegetation, trees, associated organisms, air, water, wildlife and people. The urban forest is found not only in parks, mountain preserves and native desert areas, but also in neighborhoods, commercial corridors, industrial parks and along streets. The urban forest is made up of a rich mosaic of private and public property that surrounds the city and provides many environmental, economic, and social benefits.

In order for the urban forest to be a profitable investment, Phoenix must do more than just plant trees. The entire lifecycle of the tree must be addressed because the current planting, maintenance, and irrigation practices are preventing many trees from providing their maximum return on investment. The Tree and Shade Master Plan provides a detailed roadmap to address these issues, as well as many others, with realistic and incremental steps. To succeed, this plan requires a long-term investment from the residents and leaders of Phoenix.

Trees are Solution Multipliers

Solution multipliers solve numerous problems simultaneously. Trees are a perfect example of a solution multiplier because when planted and maintained correctly, they can provide many economic, environmental, and social benefits. According to the US Forest Service, trees benefit the community by: providing a cooling effect that reduces energy costs; improving air quality; strengthening quality of place and the local economy; reducing storm water runoff; improving social connections; promoting smart growth and compact development; and creating walkable communities (US Forest Service and Urban & Community Forestry). Trees are high-yield assets; for example, the City of Chicago values its trees at $2.3 billion dollars. Trees have a documented return on investment (ROI) in Arizona of $2.23 for every $1 invested (US Department of Agriculture Forest Service). This demonstrates the important role that trees have within the city's economy. This is why it is critical to manage and invest in the urban forest; the health of the urban forest is closely linked to the economic health of the city.

Maintainable Infrastructure

Phoenix is a desert city that has a history of several decades of drought. In order to achieve a healthy urban forest we must use water wisely. Currently, 60 percent of Phoenix’s water is used outdoors, mainly for landscape irrigation. According to the City of Phoenix’s Water Services Department, Phoenix has an adequate sustainable water supply to meet the State of Arizona’s 100-year assured water supply standard. This includes growth in Phoenix’s system water demand over the next 20 years or more. Nonetheless, to achieve a maintainable urban forest, water must be used more efficiently. This is done with high-efficiency irrigation systems, use of drought-tolerant plant material, strategic placement of shade corridors and continued education. In order for a healthy urban forest to exist, it must be coupled with strong water management.

Implementation

The Urban Forest Infrastructure Team and the Parks and Recreation Department are charged with coordinating and maintaining the Tree and Shade Master Plan. Many City departments will implement the plan as they work to fulfill their own missions. The Tree and Shade Master Plan will not only provide a framework to achieve an average 25 percent tree canopy coverage by 2030 but will also help to achieve many goals and policies from the Green Phoenix Initiative and the voter ratified General Plan.

The plan proposes incremental steps to achieve the 2030 vision and canopy goal. The City of Phoenix is beginning to put a process in place to preserve, maintain, and redevelop the urban forest. This plan intends to increase the quality of life and economic vitality of the city by recommending ways to create a sustainable urban forest for future generations.

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2010

City of Phoenix Cool Urban Spaces Project: Urban Forestry and Cool Roofs - Assessment of Heat Mitigation Strategies in Phoenix

Description

The City of Phoenix’s Cool Urban Spaces Report (2014) investigated the impact of the Phoenix Cool Roofs and Tree and Shade Master Plan initiatives on the city. The study evaluated how these heat mitigation efforts affect microclimates and human thermal

The City of Phoenix’s Cool Urban Spaces Report (2014) investigated the impact of the Phoenix Cool Roofs and Tree and Shade Master Plan initiatives on the city. The study evaluated how these heat mitigation efforts affect microclimates and human thermal comfort in the Phoenix metropolitan area. These findings are especially relevant as rapid and extensive urbanization has led to an urban heat island (UHI) effect that has increased steadily at approximately 0.9°F per decade. The city’s questions guiding this research were: 1. What are the cooling benefits achieved by increasing tree canopy from 10% (current) to 25% (2030 goal) and/or implementing cool roofs under existing conditions and projected warming? 2. What is the diurnal thermal benefit of tree canopy shade for a typical heat wave day during pre-monsoon summer?

The impacts of cool roofs and trees on near-ground air temperatures were modeled through 54 scenarios for a typical residential neighborhood in Phoenix. We ran the model for a combination of three tree-planting scenarios (no trees, current canopy cover and 2030 canopy goal) and three landscaping scenarios (mesic, oasis and xeric) with regular roofs and cool roofs under current climate conditions and two climate change projections. Two significant results of the tree and shade initiative are: 1. Increasing tree canopy cover to 25% leads to an additional temperature reduction of 4.3°F, which is a total cooling benefit of 7.9°F as compared to a bare neighborhood, and 2. Switching landscaping from xeric to oasis, i.e., adding grass patches to residential backyards, reduces average neighborhood temperatures by 0.4°F to 0.5°F.

The scenario with the lowest air temperatures is the residential neighborhood with mesic landscaping, 25% tree canopy cover and cool roofs under current climate conditions with an average neighborhood temperature of 99.5°F. In contrast, the xeric neighborhood with no tree cover and regular roofs under the high-emissions climate change scenario is the hottest. This indicates that the combination of increased tree canopy cover and cool roofs does lower temperatures as well as reduce the demand for air conditioning, thereby reducing anthropogenic heat. However, trees and cool roofs are only part of the solution and need to be included in a broader, more comprehensive mitigation and adaptation plan.

Across all climate and tree scenarios, the effect of cool roofs alone on local daytime temperatures is relatively low. Air temperature reduction only amounts to 0.5°F in the neighborhood. Regarding the city’s cool roofs initiative, results show little benefit for extending this project to commercial and residential properties based on its cooling impacts alone. Our research thus far indicates that there is no simple solution to mitigating the UHI, but a complex balance of strategies will be necessary so that efforts to lower the daytime temperatures do not increase nighttime temperatures or shift UHI impacts to more vulnerable populations.

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2014-07

Impact of Shade on Outdoor Thermal Comfort: A Seasonal Field Study in Tempe, Arizona

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Shade plays an important role in designing pedestrian-friendly outdoor spaces in hot desert cities. This study investigates the impact of photovoltaic canopy shade and tree shade on thermal comfort through meteorological observations and field surveys at a pedestrian mall on

Shade plays an important role in designing pedestrian-friendly outdoor spaces in hot desert cities. This study investigates the impact of photovoltaic canopy shade and tree shade on thermal comfort through meteorological observations and field surveys at a pedestrian mall on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. During the course of 1 year, on selected clear calm days representative of each season, we conducted hourly meteorological transects from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and surveyed 1284 people about their thermal perception, comfort, and preferences. Shade lowered thermal sensation votes by approximately 1 point on a semantic differential 9-point scale, increasing thermal comfort in all seasons except winter. Shade type (tree or solar canopy) did not significantly impact perceived comfort, suggesting that artificial and natural shades are equally efficient in hot dry climates. Globe temperature explained 51 % of the variance in thermal sensation votes and was the only statistically significant meteorological predictor. Important non-meteorological factors included adaptation, thermal comfort vote, thermal preference, gender, season, and time of day. A regression of subjective thermal sensation on physiological equivalent temperature yielded a neutral temperature of 28.6 °C. The acceptable comfort range was 19.1 °C–38.1 °C with a preferred temperature of 20.8 °C. Respondents exposed to above neutral temperature felt more comfortable if they had been in air-conditioning 5 min prior to the survey, indicating a lagged response to outdoor conditions. Our study highlights the importance of active solar access management in hot urban areas to reduce thermal stress.

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2016-05-18

Seasonal Hydroclimatic Impacts of Sun Corridor Expansion

Description

Conversion of natural to urban land forms imparts influence on local and regional hydroclimate via modification of the surface energy and water balance, and consideration of such effects due to rapidly expanding megapolitan areas is necessary in light of the

Conversion of natural to urban land forms imparts influence on local and regional hydroclimate via modification of the surface energy and water balance, and consideration of such effects due to rapidly expanding megapolitan areas is necessary in light of the growing global share of urban inhabitants. Based on a suite of ensemble-based, multi-year simulations using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model, we quantify seasonally varying hydroclimatic impacts of the most rapidly expanding megapolitan area in the US: Arizona's Sun Corridor, centered upon the Greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Using a scenario-based urban expansion approach that accounts for the full range of Sun Corridor growth uncertainty through 2050, we show that built environment induced warming for the maximum development scenario is greatest during the summer season (regionally averaged warming over AZ exceeds 1 °C).

Warming remains significant during the spring and fall seasons (regionally averaged warming over AZ approaches 0.9 °C during both seasons), and is least during the winter season (regionally averaged warming over AZ of 0.5 °C). Impacts from a minimum expansion scenario are reduced, with regionally averaged warming ranging between 0.1 and 0.3 °C for all seasons except winter, when no warming impacts are diagnosed. Integration of highly reflective cool roofs within the built environment, increasingly recognized as a cost-effective option intended to offset the warming influence of urban complexes, reduces urban-induced warming considerably. However, impacts on the hydrologic cycle are aggravated via enhanced evapotranspiration reduction, leading to a 4% total accumulated precipitation decrease relative to the non-adaptive maximum expansion scenario. Our results highlight potentially unintended consequences of this adaptation approach within rapidly expanding megapolitan areas, and emphasize the need for undeniably sustainable development paths that account for hydrologic impacts in addition to continued focus on mean temperature effects.

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2012-09-07