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Sky View Factors from Synthetic Fisheye Photos for Thermal Comfort Routing—A Case Study in Phoenix, Arizona

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The Sky View Factor (SVF) is a dimension-reduced representation of urban form and one of the major variables in radiation models that estimate outdoor thermal comfort. Common ways of retrieving

The Sky View Factor (SVF) is a dimension-reduced representation of urban form and one of the major variables in radiation models that estimate outdoor thermal comfort. Common ways of retrieving SVFs in urban environments include capturing fisheye photographs or creating a digital 3D city or elevation model of the environment. Such techniques have previously been limited due to a lack of imagery or lack of full scale detailed models of urban areas. We developed a web based tool that automatically generates synthetic hemispherical fisheye views from Google Earth at arbitrary spatial resolution and calculates the corresponding SVFs through equiangular projection. SVF results were validated using Google Maps Street View and compared to results from other SVF calculation tools. We generated 5-meter resolution SVF maps for two neighborhoods in Phoenix, Arizona to illustrate fine-scale variations of intra-urban horizon limitations due to urban form and vegetation. To demonstrate the utility of our synthetic fisheye approach for heat stress applications, we automated a radiation model to generate outdoor thermal comfort maps for Arizona State University’s Tempe campus for a hot summer day using synthetic fisheye photos and on-site meteorological data. Model output was tested against mobile transect measurements of the six-directional radiant flux density. Based on the thermal comfort maps, we implemented a pedestrian routing algorithm that is optimized for distance and thermal comfort preferences. Our synthetic fisheye approach can help planners assess urban design and tree planting strategies to maximize thermal comfort outcomes and can support heat hazard mitigation in urban areas.

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  • 2017-03-27

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

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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  • 2015-04-13