Urban forestry and cool roofs: Assessment of heat mitigation strategies in Phoenix residential neighborhoods

Ariane Middel, Nalini Chhetri, Raymond Quay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


The City of Phoenix (Arizona, USA) developed a Tree and Shade Master Plan and a Cool Roofs initiative to ameliorate extreme heat during the summer months in their arid city. This study investigates the impact of the City's heat mitigation strategies on daytime microclimate for a pre-monsoon summer day under current climate conditions and two climate change scenarios. We assessed the cooling effect of trees and cool roofs in a Phoenix residential neighborhood using the microclimate model ENVI-met. First, using xeric landscaping as a base, we created eight tree planting scenarios (from 0% canopy cover to 30% canopy cover) for the neighborhood to characterize the relationship between canopy cover and daytime cooling benefit of trees. In a second set of simulations, we ran ENVI-met for nine combined tree planting and landscaping scenarios (mesic, oasis, and xeric) with regular roofs and cool roofs under current climate conditions and two climate change projections. For each of the 54 scenarios, we compared average neighborhood mid-afternoon air temperatures and assessed the benefits of each heat mitigation measure under current and projected climate conditions. Findings suggest that the relationship between percent canopy cover and air temperature reduction is linear, with 0.14. °C cooling per percent increase in tree cover for the neighborhood under investigation. An increase in tree canopy cover from the current 10% to a targeted 25% resulted in an average daytime cooling benefit of up to 2.0. °C in residential neighborhoods at the local scale. Cool roofs reduced neighborhood air temperatures by 0.3. °C when implemented on residential homes. The results from this city-specific mitigation project will inform messaging campaigns aimed at engaging the city decision makers, industry, and the public in the green building and urban forestry initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)178-186
Number of pages9
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Climate change
  • Cool roofs
  • ENVI-met
  • Heat mitigation
  • Trees and shade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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