Assessment of mitigation strategies that combat global warming, urban heat islands (UHIs), and urban energy demand can be crucial for urban planners and energy providers, especially for hot, semi-arid urban environments where summertime cooling demands are excessive. Within this context, summertime regional impacts of cool roof and rooftop solar photovoltaic deployment on near-surface air temperature and cooling energy demand are examined for the two major USA cities of Arizona: Phoenix and Tucson. A detailed physics-based parametrization of solar photovoltaic panels is developed and implemented in a multilayer building energy model that is fully coupled to the Weather Research and Forecasting mesoscale numerical model. We conduct a suite of sensitivity experiments (with different coverage rates of cool roof and rooftop solar photovoltaic deployment) for a 10-day clear-sky extreme heat period over the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas at high spatial resolution (1-km horizontal grid spacing). Results show that deployment of cool roofs and rooftop solar photovoltaic panels reduce near-surface air temperature across the diurnal cycle and decrease daily citywide cooling energy demand. During the day, cool roofs are more effective at cooling than rooftop solar photovoltaic systems, but during the night, solar panels are more efficient at reducing the UHI effect. For the maximum coverage rate deployment, cool roofs reduced daily citywide cooling energy demand by 13–14 %, while rooftop solar photovoltaic panels by 8–11 % (without considering the additional savings derived from their electricity production). The results presented here demonstrate that deployment of both roofing technologies have multiple benefits for the urban environment, while solar photovoltaic panels add additional value because they reduce the dependence on fossil fuel consumption for electricity generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-221
Number of pages19
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Cool roofs
  • Cooling energy demand
  • Rooftop solar photovoltaic panels
  • Urban climate modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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