Cooling and energy saving potentials of shade trees and urban lawns in a desert city

Zhihua Wang, Xiaoxi Zhao, Jiachuan Yang, Jiyun Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

159 Scopus citations


The use of urban vegetation in cities is a common landscape planning strategy to alleviate the heat island effect as well as to enhance building energy efficiency. The presence of trees in street canyons can effectively reduce environmental temperature via radiative shading. However, resolving shade trees in urban land surface models presents a major challenge in numerical models, especially in predicting the radiative heat exchange in canyons. In this paper, we develop a new numerical framework by incorporating shade trees into an advanced single-layer urban canopy model. This novel numerical framework is applied to Phoenix metropolitan area to investigate the cooling effect of different urban vegetation types and their potentials in saving building energy. It is found that the cooling effect by shading from trees is more significant than that by evapotranspiration from lawns, leading to a considerable saving of cooling load. In addition, analysis of human thermal comfort shows that urban vegetation plays a crucial role in creating a comfortable living environment, especially for cities located in arid or semi-arid region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Building energy efficiency
  • Human thermal comfort
  • Hydrological processes
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • Radiative heat exchange
  • Urban vegetation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • General Energy
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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