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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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Date Created
  • 2017-03-27

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Characterizing sustainable performance and human thermal comfort in designed landscapes of Southwest desert cities

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During summer 2014, a study was conducted as part of the Landscape Architecture Foundation Case Study Investigation to analyze features of three sustainably designed landscapes. Each project was located in

During summer 2014, a study was conducted as part of the Landscape Architecture Foundation Case Study Investigation to analyze features of three sustainably designed landscapes. Each project was located in a southwest desert city: Civic Space Park in Phoenix, AZ, the Pete V. Domenici US Courthouse Sustainable Landscape Retrofit in Albuquerque, NM, and George "Doc" Cavalliere Park in Scottsdale, AZ. The principal components of each case study were performance benefits that quantified ongoing ecosystem services. Performance benefits were developed from data provided by the designers and collected by the research team. The functionality of environmental, social, and economic sustainable features was evaluated. In southwest desert cities achieving performance benefits such as microclimate cooling often come at the cost of water conservation. In each of these projects such tradeoffs were balanced by prioritizing the project goals and constraints.

During summer 2015, a study was conducted to characterize effects of tree species and shade structures on outdoor human thermal comfort under hot, arid conditions. Motivating the research was the hypothesis that tree species and shade structures will vary in their capacity to improve thermal comfort due to their respective abilities to attenuate solar radiation. Micrometeorological data was collected in full sun and under shade of six landscape tree species and park ramadas in Phoenix, AZ during pre-monsoon summer afternoons. The six landscape tree species included: Arizona ash (Fraxinus velutina Torr.), Mexican palo verde (Parkinsonia aculeata L.), Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis Mill.), South American mesquite (Prosopis spp. L.), Texas live oak (Quercus virginiana for. fusiformis Mill.), and Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia Jacq.). Results showed that the tree species and ramadas were not similarly effective at improving thermal comfort, represented by physiologically equivalent temperature (PET). The difference between PET in full sun and under shade was greater under Fraxinus and Quercus than under Parkinsonia, Prosopis, and ramadas by 2.9-4.3 °C. Radiation was a significant driver of PET (p<0.0001, R2=0.69) and with the exception of ramadas, lower radiation corresponded with lower PET. Variations observed in this study suggest selecting trees or structures that attenuate the most solar radiation is a potential strategy for optimizing PET.

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Date Created
  • 2016