Research assessing the relationship between urban design features and urban climate in densely populated neighborhoods is becoming increasingly important as cities continue to grow and climate change occurs. In the summer of 2012, students from the Advanced Research Seminar on Urban Climate and local, community volunteers studied the effects of green infrastructure (parks) on the urban heat island effect in the two Bronx neighborhoods of Saint James Park in Community District 207 and Echo Park in Community District 205. Using temperature sensors and examining urban features and the built environment, the team collected information to begin developing a dataset useful for modeling the urban environment.
In addition to the summer field research, the advanced research seminar did an extensive spatial and demographic analysis of vulnerability to climate-health impacts, along with modeling outdoor thermal comfort in relationship to the built environment in these neighborhoods.
The results of these efforts will be used to understand the effectiveness of heat island mitigation methods used by cities and suggested by US. Environmental Protection Agency, which include increasing surface permeability, creating more vegetative cover, using cool reflective materials, installing green roofs and cool roofs on buildings. Once the effectiveness of different mitigation techniques is know, the best methods can be used to lessen the negative health consequences arising from heat in cities.
Naz Beykan (MDes '12)
Sponsored by a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Seed Grant from Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies