Advisory Committee Chair
Robert W Peters
Advisory Committee Members
Jason T Kirby
Date of Award
Degree Name by School
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Engineering
Urban cities are the largest consumers of energy. As global populations continue to increase in these areas, energy consumption is a growing concern for global leaders. Cities in developed countries are expanding beyond their central city-centers, resulting in increased natural resource consumption. This method of population management is referred to as urban sprawl and is the reason for increased consumption from expanding transportation networks, building materials, and fuel resources. In addition to increases in energy consumption, in recent years, built-up areas have experienced higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these differences can be as high as 22° Fahrenheit. Urban heat islands can affect communities by increasing summertime peak energy demand, air conditioning costs, air pollution and greenhouse emissions, heat-related illness and mortality, and adversely affects water quality. This research project identified the extent of heat islands in the City of Birmingham, Alabama. Surface temperature of building facades, green space and paved surfaces were recorded and compared to ambient air temperature. Results for this research project indicated that paved road surfaces had the largest differences between surface and ambient air temperature. Additionally, this project identified which materials absorbed the least amount of solar radiation. This experiment proved that albedo alone is not the only factor that should be considered when suggesting mitigation studies, as some of the lighter -colored materials showed the largest differences between surface and ambient air temperature. Additionally, season considerations need to be included as factors when suggesting mitigation strategies as each season has different characteristics that impact the amount of solar radiation that is absorbed by materials. For example, reflecting sun during summer months helps reduce air conditioning cost, but increases electricity consumption needed for heating during the winter months, as these buildings are unable to take advantage of solar heat gain.
Watson, Candace Joy, "Sustainable Urban Design Practices that Mitigate Urban Heat Islands and Reduce Energy Consumption" (2011). All ETDs from UAB. 3281.