Optimization of residential green space for environmental sustainability and property appreciation in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona

Chuyuan Wang, V. Kelly Turner, Elizabeth A. Wentz, Qunshan Zhao, Soe W. Myint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Cities in arid and semi-arid regions have been exploring urban sustainability policies, such as lowering the vegetation coverage to reduce residential outdoor water use. Meanwhile, urban residents express concerns that such policies could potentially impact home prices regardless of the reduced water costs because studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between vegetation coverage and home values. On the other hand, lower vegetation coverage in arid and semi-arid desert regions could increase surface temperatures, and consequently increases energy costs. The question is therefore where the point in which residential outdoor water use can be minimized without overly increasing surface temperatures and negatively impacting home values. This study examines the impacts of spatial composition of different vegetation types on land surface temperature (LST), outdoor water use (OWU), and property sales value (PSV) in 302 local residential communities in the Phoenix metropolitan area, Arizona using remotely sensed data and regression analysis. In addition, the spatial composition of vegetation cover was optimized to achieve a relatively lower LST and OWU and maintain a relatively higher PSV at the same time. We found that drought-tolerant landscaping that is composed of mostly shrubs and trees adapted to the desert environment is the most water efficient way to reduce LST, but grass contributes to a higher PSV. Research findings suggest that different residential landscaping strategies may be better suited for different neighborhoods and goal sets can be used by urban planners and city managers to better design urban residential landscaping for more efficient water conservation and urban heat mitigation for desert cities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number144605
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • Evapotranspiration
  • Green space
  • Land surface temperature
  • Optimization
  • Outdoor water use
  • Property sales value

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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