Large trees provide shade for sidewalks and trees in Civano, Arizona.

Turner on Cooling Effects of New Urbanist Design

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning V. Kelly Turner spoke to Congress for the New Urbanism about passive cooling and other green design characteristics in Civano, a New Urbanist neighborhood in Tucson, Arizona. White roofs contribute to lower land surface temperature, but reducing mean radiant temperature (MRT) is also important for alleviating the heat that people feel. Shade provided by buildings and trees reduces both land surface temperature and mean radiant temperature. “Features of design that produce shade through orientation of built structures and smart use of vegetation like the alleys, plazas and washes … have a definite co-benefit of reducing MRT,” said Turner, who serves as co-director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation. She explained that New Urbanist design creates more shade than spread-out, single-story sprawl. “We find that three-dimensional attributes of design are more important for cooling pedestrians because shade blocks sunlight from surfaces — and people — in the first place,” she said.

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