The objective of the research presented here is therefore to conduct a baseline analysis of the urban climate in areas that will be impacted by the construction of the proposed Durham-Orange County Light Rail project. Findings will inform both zoning regulations around future station locations in Durham County as well as the future design of those planned stations.
To achieve the research objective, multiple methods are employed to both characterize the urban heat island and the urban form. These results are correlated to assess the level of agreement between the multiple methods of the two research communities: that studying urban climate, and that engaged in planning and design. To characterize the urban heat island the following methods are utilized: (1) a stationary sensor array coincident with proposed future station locations, (2) mobile transect analysis, and (3) remote sensing analysis. The current urban form is also characterized using (1) cluster analysis, (2) local climate zone methods, and (3) national land use methods.
In partnership with the Planning Department at the City of Durham and Triangle Transit the findings of this study will be translated into recommendations for consideration in the design of future transit stations and inform zoning policy around future station locations. Recommendations will consider current climatological and urban form conditions as observed during the summer of 2015, the possible impact of future development (both positive and negative) based on land-use projections, and provide recommendations for possible mitigation and improvement interventions including material selection, urban canopy, and design.