J8.4 Nature’s Cooling Systems: Modeling Neighborhood-Built Redevelopment and Greening

Wednesday, 9 January 2019: 9:15 AM
North 224A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Peter Crank, Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ; and M. Messerschmidt and D. M. Hondula

In the facing of a changing climate and increased intensity of natural hazards, many cities and advocacy groups are seeking to understand how to protect their local environment from these hazards. In Phoenix, Arizona a key hazard that affects residents is extreme heat. The most vulnerable populations to extreme heat tend to be those with limited access to air conditioning and located in the warmest parts of the city. Increasing urban temperatures pose a public health threat, especially for the poor, those with preexisting health conditions, and those living in areas with little to no vegetation. There is a disparity among Phoenix neighborhoods regarding access to cooling benefits in the urban landscape. City-wide spending for cooling interventions can be socially and geographically inequitable, residents may be unable to afford to operate cooling systems, and underserved communities are less likely and/or able to advocate for heat reducing solutions. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is collaborating with ASU and MCDPH, in an effort to bring their mission, "conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends", to the city. Through this collaboration, a convening body of organizations and individuals are working with three low-income neighborhoods across the Valley of the Sun that were identified for TNC work to develop grassroots and community approaches to cooling these neighborhoods.

One of these neighborhoods has also been identified for a large housing redevelopment project by the city of Phoenix. This research uses community involvement practices in combination with microclimate modeling to understand heat inequalities in the neighborhood, and how natural vegetation might improve the neighborhood’s thermal environment for the residents as the housing is redeveloped. This presentation focuses on taking neighborhood design and modeling current conditions and simulating various future designs and scenarios brought forward through planning and community meetings. Results suggest a need to understand how residents use the space and tailor the placement and position of vegetation and walkways to improve thermal comfort in and through the neighborhood to provide a more thermally comfortable environment to live, play, work, and commute.

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