Matching Items (9)

Building Thermal Performance Varies During Extreme Heat within Cities

Description

This document has been superseded by our peer-reviewed publication:
Building Thermal Performance, Climate Change, and Urban Heat Vulnerability, Matthew Nahlik, Mikhail Chester, Stephanie Pincetl, David Eisenman, Deepak Sivaraman, and Paul

This document has been superseded by our peer-reviewed publication:
Building Thermal Performance, Climate Change, and Urban Heat Vulnerability, Matthew Nahlik, Mikhail Chester, Stephanie Pincetl, David Eisenman, Deepak Sivaraman, and Paul English, 2017, ASCE Journal of Infrastructure Systems, 23(3), doi:10.1061/(ASCE)IS.1943-555X.0000349

The publication is available here

The leading source of weather-related deaths in the United States is heat, and future projections show that the frequency, duration, and intensity of heat events will increase in the Southwest. Presently, there is a dearth of knowledge about how infrastructure may perform during heat waves or could contribute to social vulnerability. To understand how buildings perform in heat and potentially stress people, indoor air temperature changes when air conditioning is inaccessible are modeled for building archetypes in Los Angeles, California, and Phoenix, Arizona, when air conditioning is inaccessible is estimated.

An energy simulation model is used to estimate how quickly indoor air temperature changes when building archetypes are exposed to extreme heat. Building age and geometry (which together determine the building envelope material composition) are found to be the strongest indicators of thermal envelope performance. Older neighborhoods in Los Angeles and Phoenix (often more centrally located in the metropolitan areas) are found to contain the buildings whose interiors warm the fastest, raising particular concern because these regions are also forecast to experience temperature increases. To combat infrastructure vulnerability and provide heat refuge for residents, incentives should be adopted to strategically retrofit buildings where both socially vulnerable populations reside and increasing temperatures are forecast.

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Trees Grow on Money: Urban Tree Canopy Cover and Environmental Justice

Description

This study examines the distributional equity of urban tree canopy (UTC) cover for Baltimore, MD, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Raleigh, NC, Sacramento, CA, and Washington, D.C.

This study examines the distributional equity of urban tree canopy (UTC) cover for Baltimore, MD, Los Angeles, CA, New York, NY, Philadelphia, PA, Raleigh, NC, Sacramento, CA, and Washington, D.C. using high spatial resolution land cover data and census data. Data are analyzed at the Census Block Group levels using Spearman’s correlation, ordinary least squares regression (OLS), and a spatial autoregressive model (SAR). Across all cities there is a strong positive correlation between UTC cover and median household income. Negative correlations between race and UTC cover exist in bivariate models for some cities, but they are generally not observed using multivariate regressions that include additional variables on income, education, and housing age. SAR models result in higher r-square values compared to the OLS models across all cities, suggesting that spatial autocorrelation is an important feature of our data. Similarities among cities can be found based on shared characteristics of climate, race/ethnicity, and size. Our findings suggest that a suite of variables, including income, contribute to the distribution of UTC cover. These findings can help target simultaneous strategies for UTC goals and environmental justice concerns.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015-04-01

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Urban Heat Stress Vulnerability in the U.S. Southwest: The Role of Sociotechnical Systems

Description

Heat vulnerability of urban populations is becoming a major issue of concern with climate change, particularly in the cities of the Southwest United States. In this article we discuss the

Heat vulnerability of urban populations is becoming a major issue of concern with climate change, particularly in the cities of the Southwest United States. In this article we discuss the importance of understanding coupled social and technical systems, how they constitute one another, and how they form the conditions and circumstances in which people experience heat. We discuss the particular situation of Los Angeles and Maricopa Counties, their urban form and the electric grid. We show how vulnerable populations are created by virtue of the age and construction of buildings, the morphology of roads and distribution of buildings on the landscape. Further, the regulatory infrastructure of electricity generation and distribution also contributes to creating differential vulnerability. We contribute to a better understanding of the importance of sociotechnical systems. Social infrastructure includes codes, conventions, rules and regulations; technical systems are the hard systems of pipes, wires, buildings, roads, and power plants. These interact to create lock-in that is an obstacle to addressing issues such as urban heat stress in a novel and equitable manner.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2016-08-25

Policy Brief: Infrastructure and Automobile Shifts: Positioning Transit to Reduce Life-Cycle Environmental Impacts for Urban Sustainability Goals

Description

Public transportation systems are often part of strategies to reduce urban environmental impacts from passenger transportation, yet comprehensive energy and environmental life-cycle measures, including upfront infrastructure effects and indirect and

Public transportation systems are often part of strategies to reduce urban environmental impacts from passenger transportation, yet comprehensive energy and environmental life-cycle measures, including upfront infrastructure effects and indirect and supply chain processes, are rarely considered. Using the new bus rapid transit and light rail lines in Los Angeles, near-term and long-term life-cycle impact assessments are developed, including consideration of reduced automobile travel. Energy consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants are assessed, as well the potential for smog and respiratory impacts.

Results show that life-cycle infrastructure, vehicle, and energy production components significantly increase the footprint of each mode (by 48–100% for energy and greenhouse gases, and up to 6200% for environmental impacts), and emerging technologies and renewable electricity standards will significantly reduce impacts. Life-cycle results are identified as either local (in Los Angeles) or remote, and show how the decision to build and operate a transit system in a city produces environmental impacts far outside of geopolitical boundaries. Ensuring shifts of between 20–30% of transit riders from automobiles will result in passenger transportation greenhouse gas reductions for the city, and the larger the shift, the quicker the payback, which should be considered for time-specific environmental goals.

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Environmental Life-Cycle Assessment of Los Angeles Metro’s Orange Bus Rapid Transit and Gold Light Rail Transit Lines

Description

Public transit systems are often accepted as energy and environmental improvements to automobile travel, however, few life cycle assessments exist to understand the effects of implementation of transit policy decisions.

Public transit systems are often accepted as energy and environmental improvements to automobile travel, however, few life cycle assessments exist to understand the effects of implementation of transit policy decisions. To better inform decision-makers, this project evaluates the decision to construct and operate public transportation systems and the expected energy and environmental benefits over continued automobile use. The public transit systems are selected based on screening criteria. Initial screening included advanced implementation (5 to 10 years so change in ridership could be observed), similar geographic regions to ensure consistency of analysis parameters, common transit agencies or authorities to ensure a consistent management culture, and modes reflecting large infrastructure investments to provide an opportunity for robust life cycle assessment of large impact components. An in-depth screening process including consideration of data availability, project age, energy consumption, infrastructure information, access and egress information, and socio-demographic characteristics was used as the second filter. The results of this selection process led to Los Angeles Metro’s Orange and Gold lines.

In this study, the life cycle assessment framework is used to evaluate energy inputs and emissions of greenhouse gases, particulate matter (10 and 2.5 microns), sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide. For the Orange line, Gold line, and competing automobile trip, an analysis system boundary that includes vehicle, infrastructure, and energy production components is specified. Life cycle energy use and emissions inventories are developed for each mode considering direct (vehicle operation), ancillary (non-vehicle operation including vehicle maintenance, infrastructure construction, infrastructure operation, etc.), and supply chain processes and services. In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, the inventories are linked to their potential for respiratory impacts and smog formation, and the time it takes to payback in the lifetime of each transit system.

Results show that for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, the inclusion of life cycle components increases the footprint between 42% and 91% from vehicle propulsion exclusively. Conventional air emissions show much more dramatic increases highlighting the effectiveness of “tailpipe” environmental policy. Within the life cycle, vehicle operation is often small compared to other components. Particulate matter emissions increase between 270% and 5400%. Sulfur dioxide emissions increase by several orders of magnitude for the on road modes due to electricity use throughout the life cycle. NOx emissions increase between 31% and 760% due to supply chain truck and rail transport. VOC emissions increase due to infrastructure material production and placement by 420% and 1500%. CO emissions increase by between 20% and 320%. The dominating contributions from life cycle components show that the decision to build an infrastructure and operate a transportation mode in Los Angeles has impacts far outside of the city and region. Life cycle results are initially compared at each system’s average occupancy and a breakeven analysis is performed to compare the range at which modes are energy and environmentally competitive.

The results show that including a broad suite of energy and environmental indicators produces potential tradeoffs that are critical to decision makers. While the Orange and Gold line require less energy and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile traveled than the automobile, this ordering is not necessarily the case for the conventional air emissions. It is possible that a policy that focuses on one pollutant may increase another, highlighting the need for a broad set of indicators and life cycle thinking when making transportation infrastructure decisions.

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Coupling Biogeochemical Cycles in Urban Environments: Ecosystem Services, Green Solutions, and Misconceptions

Description

Urban green space is purported to offset greenhouse‐gas (GHG) emissions, remove air and water pollutants, cool local climate, and improve public health. To use these services, municipalities have focused efforts

Urban green space is purported to offset greenhouse‐gas (GHG) emissions, remove air and water pollutants, cool local climate, and improve public health. To use these services, municipalities have focused efforts on designing and implementing ecosystem‐services‐based “green infrastructure” in urban environments. In some cases the environmental benefits of this infrastructure have been well documented, but they are often unclear, unquantified, and/or outweighed by potential costs. Quantifying biogeochemical processes in urban green infrastructure can improve our understanding of urban ecosystem services and disservices (negative or unintended consequences) resulting from designed urban green spaces. Here we propose a framework to integrate biogeochemical processes into designing, implementing, and evaluating the net effectiveness of green infrastructure, and provide examples for GHG mitigation, stormwater runoff mitigation, and improvements in air quality and health.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011-02-01

Building Thermal Performance, Extreme Heat, and Climate Change

Description

The leading source of weather-related deaths in the United States is heat, and future projections show that the frequency, duration, and intensity of heat events will increase in the Southwest.

The leading source of weather-related deaths in the United States is heat, and future projections show that the frequency, duration, and intensity of heat events will increase in the Southwest. Presently, there is a dearth of knowledge about how infrastructure may perform during heat waves or could contribute to social vulnerability. To understand how buildings perform in heat and potentially stress people, indoor air temperature changes when air conditioning is inaccessible are modeled for building archetypes in Los Angeles, California, and Phoenix, Arizona, when air conditioning is inaccessible is estimated.

An energy simulation model is used to estimate how quickly indoor air temperature changes when building archetypes are exposed to extreme heat. Building age and geometry (which together determine the building envelope material composition) are found to be the strongest indicators of thermal envelope performance. Older neighborhoods in Los Angeles and Phoenix (often more centrally located in the metropolitan areas) are found to contain the buildings whose interiors warm the fastest, raising particular concern because these regions are also forecast to experience temperature increases. To combat infrastructure vulnerability and provide heat refuge for residents, incentives should be adopted to strategically retrofit buildings where both socially vulnerable populations reside and increasing temperatures are forecast.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-11-11

Household Accessibility to Heat Refuges: Residential Air Conditioning, Public Cooled Space, and Walkability.

Description

Access to air conditioned space is critical for protecting urban populations from the adverse effects of heat exposure. Yet there remains fairly limited knowledge of the penetration of private (home

Access to air conditioned space is critical for protecting urban populations from the adverse effects of heat exposure. Yet there remains fairly limited knowledge of the penetration of private (home air conditioning) and distribution of public (cooling centers and commercial space) cooled space across cities. Furthermore, the deployment of government-sponsored cooling centers is likely to be inadequately informed with respect to the location of existing cooling resources (residential air conditioning and air conditioned public space), raising questions of the equitability of access to heat refuges.

We explore the distribution of private and public cooling resources and access inequities at the household level in two major US urban areas: Los Angeles County, California and Maricopa County, Arizona (whose county seat is Phoenix). We evaluate the presence of in-home air conditioning and develop a walking-based accessibility measure to air conditioned public space using a combined cumulative opportunities-gravity approach. We find significant variations in the distribution of residential air conditioning across both regions which are largely attributable to building age and inter/intra-regional climate differences.

There are also regional disparities in walkable access to public cooled space. At average walking speeds, we find that official cooling centers are only accessible to a small fraction of households (3% in Los Angeles, 2% in Maricopa) while a significantly higher number of households (80% in Los Angeles, 39% in Maricopa) have access to at least one other type of public cooling resource such as a library or commercial establishment. Aggregated to a neighborhood level, we find that there are areas within each region where access to cooled space (either public or private) is limited which may increase heat-related health risks.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-07-15

Heat Death Associations With the Built Environment, Social Vulnerability, and Their Interactions With Rising Temperature

Description

In an extreme heat event, people can go to air-conditioned public facilities if residential air-conditioning is not available. Residences that heat slowly may also mitigate health effects, particularly in neighborhoods

In an extreme heat event, people can go to air-conditioned public facilities if residential air-conditioning is not available. Residences that heat slowly may also mitigate health effects, particularly in neighborhoods with social vulnerability. We explored the contributions of social vulnerability and these infrastructures to heat mortality in Maricopa County and whether these relationships are sensitive to temperature. Using Poisson regression modeling with heat-related mortality as the outcome, we assessed the interaction of increasing temperature with social vulnerability, access to publicly available air conditioned space, home air conditioning and the thermal properties of residences. As temperatures increase, mortality from heat-related illness increases less in census tracts with more publicly accessible cooled spaces. Mortality from all internal causes of death did not have this association. Building thermal protection was not associated with mortality. Social vulnerability was still associated with mortality after adjusting for the infrastructure variables. To reduce heat-related mortality, the use of public cooled spaces might be expanded to target the most vulnerable.

Contributors

Created

Date Created
  • 2016-08-03