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Advances in the Development of Cool Materials for the Built Environment, 2013, 3-32 3

Dionysia-Denia Kolokotsa, Mattheos Santamouris and Hashem Akbari (Eds)

All rights reserved- 2013 Bentham Science Publishers
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City and Building
Nyuk Hien Wong
and Steve Kardinal Jusuf
Department of Building, National University of Singapore, 4 Architecture Drive
117566, Singapore
Abstract: Extensive urbanization has resulted to economic, social, energy &
environmental challenges. The global population increase led to an increasing demand
for housing. Natural land has been replaced with artificial surfaces in most cities around
the world with undesirable thermal effects. This, together with industrialization growth,
has caused a deterioration of the urban environment. Urban heat island (UHI)
phenomenon has become a common problem in many major cities worldwide. Several
factors influence the urban heat island phenomenon, such as the continuous reduction of
green spaces, the changes of wind velocity due to high buildings density, the
anthropogenic heat release and the alteration of surfaces albedo. The aforementioned
factors lead to overheating problems in cities due to the absorption of solar radiation by
the various surfaces and buildings. Hence, urban climate is one of the most important
elements of urban physical environment, which is often ignored in urban planning. To
design a sustainable city, it is necessary to take into account the climatic conditions
holistically and strategically during the planning process. Since the 1970s, German
researchers have developed the concept of urban climate map (UC-Map) that has a
strong focus on applied urban climatology. UC-Map is an appropriate tool for
translating climatic phenomena and problems into 2-D images including symbols for
land use and spatial information suitable for the urban planner. Therefore this map is a
useful tool for urban planners, architects and governors in order for them to understand
more accurately and evaluate the effects of urban climatic issues on decision-making
and environmental control. At the micro-climate level, several UHI mitigations can be
implemented to reduce the UHI severity. First is greenery. The benefits of greenery to
the built environment have been widely investigated. Greenery dissipates the incoming
solar radiation on the building structures through its effective shading; it reduces long-
wave radiation exchange between buildings due to the low surface temperatures created
by plants shading; it reduces the ambient air temperature through evapotranspiration.
The role of buildings materials, mainly determined by their optical and thermal
characteristics, is crucial in reducing the thermal and solar hear gains, in the urban
environment. The so-called cool materials, characterized by high reflectivity and high
emissivity, can improve the thermal conditions in cities by lowering the surface
temperatures that affect the thermal exchanges with the surrounding air. Urban

*Address correspondence to Nyuk Hien Wong: Department of Building, National University of Singapore, 4
Architecture Drive, Singapore 117566; Tel: +65-65163423; Fax: +65-67755502; E-mail:
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4 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf
ventilation is another important strategy of UHI mitigation. It is important to understand
the nature of air flow regimes within urban canyons in order to make further progress in
describing the complex interactions between mesoscale forces and the built
environment that create the urban boundary layer.
Keywords: Urban heat island, mitigation strategies, urban climatic map, urban
greenery, urban ventilation, cool materials.
The world has experienced an unprecedented urban growth in the latest centuries. In
1800, only 3% of the worlds population lived in urban areas. This percentage
reached 14% and 47% in 1900 and 2000 respectively. In 2008, it was the first time
in history where more than half of the worlds population was living in the urban
areas. Moreover in 2003, United Nations estimated that by the year 2030, up to 5
billion people will be living in urban areas, which corresponds to 61% of the world's
population [1].
Extensive urbanization has resulted in economic, social, energy & environmental
challenges. The trend in global population increase leads to an increase in housing
demand. Natural land has been replaced by artificial surfaces in most cities around
the world with undesirable thermal effects. This issue, together with
industrialization growth, has caused a considerable deterioration of the urban
environment. Buildings in cities influence the urban climate in many ways [2]:
1. Softscape (trees, grass and soil) is replaced by hard surfaces (asphalt
and concrete);
2. The rounded, soft shapes of trees and bushes are replace by blocky,
angular buildings;
3. Anthropogenic heat from the buildings, air conditioning systems and
automobiles is released;
4. Surface infiltration is prevented due to efficient disposal of rain water
in drains, sewers and gutters;
5. Contaminants that create an unpleasant urban atmosphere due to the
chemical reactions are emitted.
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 5
The aforementioned factors influence the amount of incoming and outgoing
radiation and also affect the local wind speeds [3]. Their effects on local climate,
especially on environmental temperature and ventilation, are very critical.
Moreover they alter the radiative, thermal, moisture and aerodynamic properties
of the environment [4], causing heat concentration in urban areas compared to its
neighboring rural areas. This phenomenon is called the urban heat island (UHI)
effect (see Fig. 1).UHI has become a common problem in major cities worldwide
while the temperature difference between urban and rural areas can be more than
10K (Table 1).

Figure 1: Typical urban heat island profile (Source: Wong and Chen, 2009).
Table 1: UHI intensity in several countries around the world
City Intensity (K)
Shanghai, China [5] Up to 8.4
Tokyo, Japan [6] 3-8
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia [7] 4-6.5
Singapore [8] 4
Newark, USA [9] 3
London, UK [10] 8 (max)
Lodz, Poland [11] 12 (max)
6 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf
The severity of the UHI effect is influenced by some important factors [12-14]:
1. Canyon geometry: Urban canyons work as traps that decrease the loss
of both short-wave and long-wave radiation. This is attributed to the
complex exchange between buildings and the skyline screening. Urban
canyons also decrease the effective albedo of the overall area due to
multiple reflections of short-wave radiation by the canyon surfaces.
2. Building materials: Materials, such as concrete and brick, have large
heat capacity and more sensible heat can be stored during daytime.
The stored heat is then released back to the environment at night.
3. Greenhouse effect: The polluted urban atmosphere traps the long-
wave radiation that is emitted by the ground to the sky.
4. Anthropogenic heat source is generated by the industrial combustion,
traffic, air-conditioners and other human activities.
5. Evaporative cooling: Vegetation and water can mitigate the UHI
effect since more incoming heat can be transformed into latent heat
rather than sensible heat. Unfortunately, the lack of greenery in cities
deteriorates the UHI effect.
6. Urban ventilation: Wind is able to remove heat by turbulent and
convective transfer. However, such heat loss from urban streets is
reduced due to the obstruction of wind flow by the urban settings.
The UHI phenomenon is exacerbated by human energy release overheating and by
increasing demand of air conditioning, which leads to further heating and CO
[15]. Simulation studies have shown that the possible increase in peak cooling
electricity load due to UHI could range from 0.5 to 3% for each 1K temperature
increase [16]. Meanwhile, another study in Singapore shows that 1K reduction of
urban air temperature reduces the energy consumption for cooling by 5% [17].
Many studies have been conducted around the world to mitigate the UHI in the
cities. This chapter discusses several UHI mitigation measures at the city, estate
and building level.
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 7
Urban Climatic Map at City Level
Countries need to develop their cities to stimulate economic growth and promote
their national development. Therefore the development of cities compared to the
various neighborhood towns and villages attracts more inhabitants, leading to an
aggravated need to further urban expansion and development. Due to climate
change, there is a vision to develop cities to be more sustainable and healthy for
their inhabitants. Urban climate, one of the elements of urban physical
environment, has gained its momentum as an important aspect of the urban
planning process together with economic and social aspects. Several studies
acknowledged the influence of urban forms towards urban thermal comfort [18-
20], urban temperature [21, 22] and urban heat island intensity [23].
Climate is an important factor of the built environment and all studies regarding
urban climatic conditions are focusing on the improvement of the local climatic
conditions with the simultaneous reduction of the negative microclimate effects.
Two different difficulties appear in a climatic study at local level. Firstly, there is
no suitable meteorological data that are available in local level since the usual
meteorological measuring grid is too wide. Secondly, there is only a little or no
time for the planners to make decisions and so is the available time for the
meteorological investigation [24].
Germany is one of the leading countries in urban climate research. The first urban
climatic study was conducted in Berlin as early as in the end of 19
century and
was used by several methodologies in the later studies such as thermal imaging,
temporary weather station, car transverses, vertical soundings that led to the urban
climatic map (UC-Map) in the early 80s [25].
Among the various methods, UC-Map is found very useful for urban planning
purposes since it integrates the urban climatic factors and urban planning
considerations. Before the development of the UC-Map methodology, the
integration of urban planning and meteorology was a problem in many cities, due
to the different domains and aspects of knowledge. Meteorologists do not know
the planning requirements that should be considered in the urban microclimatic
study, while urban planners do not understand the type of climatic data that should
8 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf
be provided for their planning purposes [26]. As an information and evaluation
tool, the UC-Map has two components, the Urban Climatic Analysis Map (UC-
AnMap) and the Urban Climatic Recommendation Map (UC-ReMap).
The UC An-Map compiles the meteorological data, land use data, building footprint
information, topography and vegetation information. The influence of these data on
thermal load and thermal comfort are analyzed and classified spatially into several
categories [27]. The UC-AnMap is also called climatope map and synthetic
climate function map, as it represents distinct local climatic conditions and defines
the climatopes. Climatopes are geographic areas in the urban space that have similar
microclimatic characteristics and similar relative significance towards their
surroundings. Moreover the specific tool operates on a spatial scale of several
dozens to hundreds meters. The characteristics are primarily distinguished by the
daily thermal variation, the vertical roughness, the topographical conditions or
exposure and more importantly by the type of materials [28].

Figure 2: Workflow of UC-AnMap development for Hong Kong (Source: CUHK, 2008).
In developing a city, planners are dealing with land-use changes that usually alter
the aforementioned urban characteristics and subsequently create new
microclimatic conditions. The modification of roughness parameter changes the
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 9
urban ventilation. An increase of roughness usually limits the air exchange rates
leading to an increase of the heat generated by the city. Moreover the pollutants
emitted by the near-surface sources are insufficiently dispersed. This phenomenon
causes critical environmental impacts to the inhabitants. The effects of inadequate
ventilation are critical during periods of extremely low prevailing winds and high
radiation [29]. The interaction between urban structures and climate becomes
more prominent when the city is not located in a flat terrain. The urban ventilation
or wind path within the city changes according to the topographic condition.
Therefore, it is not only the land use and the urban structures considered in the
UC-AnMap, but also the topography and its influence on the urban and rural
ventilation. Fig. 2 depicts the workflow and data required to develop UC-AnMap
for the urban climatic map of Hong Kong as an illustration.

Figure 3: UC-ReMap city of Stuttgart (Source: Ministry of Economy Baden-Wuerttemberg,
10 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf
Urban Climatic Recommendation Map (UC-ReMap) targets to the planning
procedure. It provides strategic and city planning guidelines to improve the
microclimatic conditions based on the UC-AnMap and practical constraints. Similar
climatopes obtained from UC-AnMap are grouped into classification zones, where
each zone is represented in different colors and has specific planning guidelines, so
that the urban climatic conditions are not worsened. Hence, the collaboration
between the urban climatologist and the urban planners is very important in the
development of the UC-ReMap from the UC-AnMap [30]. The recommendation
map can be in a form of general guidelines for urban planners. For example the
Stuttgart climatic map includes a transformation of green spaces and vegetation to
preserve and reclaim natural vegetation in order to improve ventilation, reduce the
release of air pollutants and support fresh air provision (Fig. 3) [31]. The
recommendation map may also be in a form of more rigid guidelines. For example
the Kassel climatic map includes guidelines on the building coverage, the spacing
between buildings and their heights as well as the percentage of greenery [32]. The
implementation of the UC-ReMap involves not only the local government but also
the private sectors, such as industries and businesses. The scale of the UC-Map is
1:100000 for regional analysis and 1:5000 for district analysis. It provides an overall
analysis, in which, microclimatic study can be selected and conducted.
Urban Climatic Map at Estate Level
Urban climatic map at the estate level provides an analysis for more detailed
climatic conditions, i.e. urban air temperature, compared to urban climatic map at
city level and it usually has the scale of 1:5000 to 1:100000 with the resolution of
100m grid.
Known as temperature map, its methodology was developed based on the fact that
air temperature in urban areas is closely related to land uses [33], which
physically are related to the urban morphology characteristics, such as: sky view
factor [34-38], greenery condition [39, 40], thermal mass of the built environment
[41, 42] and building materials [43-45].
Daily minimum (T
), average (T
) and maximum (T
) temperatures of a
specific location are calculated as the result of temperature deviation from the
temperature measured at a meteorological station nearby. The deviation is mainly
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 11
due to the urban morphological characteristics, i.e. building, pavement and
greenery, within the radius of 50 meters. The independent variables for the models
can be categorized into:
1. Climatic predictors. Those are the daily minimum (Ref T
), the
average (Ref T
) and maximum (Ref T
) temperatures at a
reference point. Moreover the average of daily solar radiation
(SOLAR) is considered. For the SOLAR predictor, the average of the
daily solar radiation is used in the T
model, while the daily solar
radiation maximum is used in the T
model. SOLAR predictor is not
applicable for T
2. Urban morphology predictors. Those are the percentage of pavement
area over a radius of 50m, the average height to building area ratio,
the total wall surface area, the Green Plot Ratio, the sky view factor
and the average surface albedo.
The planners are not able to modify the overall climatic conditions, but they can
modify the urban morphological conditions. With the temperature map, planners
are able to analyze the impacts of their design to the environment.
As an example, temperature maps are used to analyze and predict the impact of a
new master plan as compared to the existing conditions in a Singapore estate and
also to study two different greenery densities of the park, named as Green Belt.
The calculated maximum temperature is shown in Fig. 4. The changes of
maximum air temperature distribution pattern at different master plan models
(Model 1 and Model 2) are mainly due to the change of greenery and building
distributions. The removal of large greenery areas and its replacement with
buildings increases the average air temperature, as seen in the Vista Xchange
zone. The impact of the Green Belt in Model 2 (Fig. 4 right) that has a higher
greenery density as compared to Model 1 (Fig. 4 middle) seems more noticeable,
creating a larger cool island at the middle of the estate.
Researchers have conducted various investigations and measurements in relation
to the built environment. As a result, they have come out with various prediction
models for different purposes, including impact mitigation strategies, climatic
12 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf
data predictions, improved weather and air quality forecasts [46]. Nevertheless,
these prediction models are too complicated for educated non-scientists, such as
urban planners. In the end, they are often kept in the shelves until the scientists are
engaged to do the assessment. By the time scientists finish their assessments, the
planners have no time to redesign their master plans based on the scientists
findings. There is a gap between scientists and planners. Furthermore, at the
building design level, CAD software has been developed and integrated with
some simulation software, called the Building Information Modeling (BIM).
However, at urban or estate planning level, there is still no software or tool that
can equip planners to design and perform assessment at the same time. These
findings emphasize the need to develop a tool for planners.

Figure 4: The calculated average air temperature of current condition (Left), master plan model 1
(Middle) and master plan model 2 (Right).
The Screening Tool for Estate Environment Evaluation (STEVE) was developed
with a motivation to bridge research findings, especially air temperature
prediction models, and urban planners. STEVE is a web-based application that is
specific to an estate and it calculates the T
, T
and T
of a point of interest
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 13
for the existing conditions and future conditions (proposed master plans) of a
specific area or estate. The air temperature prediction models that have been
briefly mentioned above are used in this application. The map of estates existing
condition or future development is displayed in STEVE interface. The viewing
level of the map is set into three levels. In level 1 (Fig. 5), it displays a complete
estate map including the zoning boundaries, which are darkened when the mouse
is pointed to the selected zone. Users are able to zoom in the map into the second
view level by clicking either the selected zone or the zoom-in button (Fig. 6).

Figure 5: First viewing level of the map.

Figure 6: Second viewing level of the map.
14 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf

Figure 7: Third viewing level of the map.
The designated points appear for the users selection in this viewing level and
then, users are able to predict air temperatures condition by clicking the selected
point. A circle with the radius of 50 meters blinks to provide indication of the
urban morphological distribution that influence the air temperatures at the selected
point (Figs. 7 and 8).

Figure 8: Calculator interface.
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 15
At the left hand side of the existing or proposed master plan map, the calculator
interface appears with preloaded values of different parameters for the selected
point (Fig. 8). The preloaded values can be changed according to the users needs
and the predicted air temperature results appear with a push on the Calculate
Planting of vegetation in urban areas is one of the main strategies employed to
mitigate the UHI effect, since vegetation plays a significant role in regulating the
urban climate. It is an effective measure to create oasis effect and to mitigate urban
warming at both macro- and micro-levels. Trees alter the environment by
moderating the climate, improving air quality, conserving water and protecting
wildlife. Basically, greenery ameliorates the urban climate by moderating the effects
of sun, wind and rain. Trees cool the environment through shading and
evapotranspiration. Solar radiation is either absorbed or deflected by leaves during
hot shinny days and is transformed into latent heat converting water from liquid to
gas which in turn results in a lower leaf temperature, lower ambient air temperature
and higher humidity through the process of evapotranspiration. Hence, it feels much
cooler under trees shading than exposed to direct sunlight. The energy budget of
plants explains the whole evapotranspiration process [47], as follows:

C E = M + S

: Net heat gain from radiation (short-wave radiation and long-wave
radiation). This is often the largest part and it drives many energy fluxes.
C : Net sensible heat loss, which is the sum of all heat losses to the
surroundings by conduction and convection.
E : Net latent heat loss, which is required to convert all water evaporated
from the liquid to the vapor state and is given by the product of the
evaporation rate E and the latent heat of vaporization of water ( =
2.454 MJ kg
at 20
16 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf
M : Net heat stored in biochemical reactions, which represents the storage
of heat energy as chemical bond energy and is dominated by
photosynthesis of respiration.
S : Net physical storage of thermal energy, which includes the energy
used for heating the plant as well as heat used to raise the temperature
of the air.
Some researchers reported that the energy transferred to latent heat through plants
can be very high. Almost 1460kg of water is evaporated from an average tree
during a summer sunny day, a cooling effect that is equal to five average air
conditioners [48].
A single tree has the capability to moderate the surrounding microclimate, but its
impacts are limited. Large urban parks, on the other hand, extend the positive
effects to the surrounding built environment. Chen and Wong studied two urban
parks in Singapore and concluded that a maximum 1.3K average temperature
difference was observed around the parks. The temperatures measured within
parks also have strong relationship with the density of plants, i.e. Leaf Area Index
(LAI). Plants with higher LAIs may cause lower ambient temperatures. Results
derived from the simulation study showed that a significant amount (almost 10%
reduction of the cooling load) of energy consumption for cooling may be saved
when buildings are built near parks [49]. A study in Japan [50] showed that even a
small area of 60x40m can create a notable cooling effect. The maximum
difference between inside and outside of the small greenery area was 3K. The
study also showed that the air temperature distribution was closely related to the
distribution of greenery in the city. Jauregui found that in a large urban park in
Mexico City, the ambient temperature was 2-3K lower than its surrounding built-
up area and its influence reached a distance of 2km, about the same as its width
[51]. Therefore it can be stated that groups of trees may effectively improve the
thermal environment of the urban area.
Trees have impressive shading effects towards the built environment. Dense
foliage trees are able to intercept the incoming solar radiation by 70% 90% [52-
54]. The shading effect provided by the plants on the surface of the buildings
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 17
lowers the surface temperatures and subsequently lowers the cooling energy
consumption. Strategically located plants may reduce the cooling energy
consumption between 25% 80% [55-61]. They can be in the form of trees
located at the eastern or western side of the buildings wall, as well as rooftop or
vertical greenery. Extra savings can be observed when air conditioning units are
well shaded by plants [62].
The development of roof and wall planting has also been increased in the recent
years, with a number of installations for roof gardens and vertical greenery in
various building types, such as airports, hotels, residential and educational
buildings, shopping malls and other facilities. Wong studied the impact of
intensive and extensive rooftop greenery to the buildings energy behavior and
environment [63]. Rooftop greenery can provide benefits not only to the building
but also to the ambient temperature conditions. With the intensive rooftop garden
system, the surface temperature may reduce up to 3.1K and the ambient
temperature at 1 m may reduce up to 1.5K as shown in Fig. 9. The impact of
rooftop greenery is even more pronounced for metal roofs. Without plants, the
metal surface can be up to 60-70C during daytime and lower than 20C at night.
With plants, it ranges only from 24C to 32C.

Figure 9: Comparison of surface and ambient temperatures measured with different plants
(Source: Wong et al. 2007).
Rooftop greenery research in Japan concluded that the temperature above the
rooftop greenery can be reduced of around 2-5K compared to a hard surface [64,
18 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf
65]. Meanwhile, the surface temperature under the plants is reduced of almost 25-
30K compared to the metal surface during the peak hour of clear days. Fioretti
investigated the rooftop greenery performance in Mediterranean climate of Italy.
The study also found a 5-6K temperature reduction above the green roof while the
foliage reduced the solar radiation incidence on the roof surface between 80% -
90% [66].
In the city, the amount of buildings faade surfaces is quite large compared to the
roof surfaces. Hence, greening of building faade surface, known as vertical
greenery system, has a great potential in mitigating the UHI effect through
evapotranspiration and shading [67]. Vegetation can dramatically reduce the
maximum temperature of a building by shading its walls from the sun, with daily
temperature fluctuation being reduced by as much as 50% [68]. In addition, a
faade fully covered with greenery is protected from the solar radiation intensity
in the summer and it can reflect or absorb by its leaf cover between 40% - 80% of
the received radiation, depending on the amount and the type of greenery [31].
A research in the humid climate of Hong Kong showed a maximum temperature
decrease of 8.4K by vertical greenery systems in an urban canyon [69]. The
reduction is significant as the distribution of ambient air in a canyon influences
the energy consumption of buildings. Higher temperatures in a canyon increase
the heat convection into the building and correspondingly increase the cooling
load [70]. Surface temperatures of vertical greenery systems have been observed
in different settings at the University of Toronto since 1996 [71]. These results
have consistently demonstrated that areas with vertical greenery are cooler than
light-colored brick walls and black surfaces that are typically found in urban
areas. In Japan, experiments show that vines can reduce the surface temperature of
a veranda with south-western exposure by 13-15K and the air temperature by 1-
3K [52]. In Africa, a temperature reduction of 2.6K was observed behind
vegetated panels of vines [72]. Therefore, together with the insulation effect of
vegetation, the temperature fluctuations at the wall surface can be reduced
between 10-60K to 5K-30K [73].
In Singapore, eight different vertical greenery systems were studied vs. their
thermal performance [74]. The reason of the differences in the thermal
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 19
performance of these vertical greenery systems can be a combination of various
factors, including the substrate type, the insulation of the system structure, the
substrate moisture content as well as the shading and insulation of greenery
coverage. At the same time, the interactions between leaf area, geometry, color
and other microclimatic parameters such as solar radiation are complex and may
result in different cooling efficiencies during day and night. Maximum reduction
of 11.58K in the wall surface temperature on clear days is observed by the vertical
greenery systems (Fig. 10) and a reduction of up to 3.33K in ambient air
temperature from a distance of 0.15m away (Fig. 11) compared to a regular
concrete wall.

Figure 10: Wall and substrate surface temperature of Vertical Greenery System no.5 (Source:
Wong et al. 2010).

Figure 11: Ambient temperatures at a distance of 0.15m away from Vertical Greenery System no
1, 2 and 4 (Source: Wong et al. 2010).
20 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf
Wind speed in the urban areas is seriously decreased compared to the undisturbed
wind speed. Moreover wind direction may be altered. The roughness of buildings
and urban structures (geometry) affects wind within the cities and slows down
wind speeds, thus decreases the natural ventilation potential and increases the
pollutants concentration. One of the causes of UHI is the reduced turbulent
transfer of heat within streets, due to the decrease of wind speed. The serious
reduction of wind speed in urban canyons hampers the application of airflow
through natural ventilation for dense urban environments [70]. The decrease in
outdoor ventilation increases the outdoor pollutant concentrations and creates
poor thermal comfort conditions. This has a trickling effect to the indoor
environments as well. Experimental evaluation of airflow reduction in urban
canyons has shown a reduction of 90% [75].
Natural ventilation is a good strategy for achieving acceptable thermal comfort,
dilution of pollutant concentrations and dispersion of heat flux. Air movements
determine the convective heat and mass exchange of the human body with the
surrounding air. Higher air velocities increase the evaporative rate of skin surface
and consequently enhance the cooling sensation [76].
Oke classified the wind variation with height over the cities with a two-layer
classification of urban modification, the urban canopy layer (UCL) and urban
boundary layer (UBL), see Fig. 12. As the air flows from rural to urban areas, the
boundary layer must adjust to the new boundary conditions defined by the skyline
of the city [77].
The urban canopy layer (UCL) or obstructed sub-layer extends from the
ground surface up to the height of the buildings. The climatic conditions inside the
UCL are determined by various urban configurations and material properties. In
general, the wind speed inside this layer significantly decreases relative to the
undisturbed wind speed. The turbulence decreases with increasing height due to
ground obstacles and thermal airflow instabilities. The urban boundary layer
(UBL), or free surface layer, lies above the buildings roof tops. Its thickness
(from hundreds to thousands of meters) is determined by the gradient height at
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 21
which surface friction of the ground no longer affects the general wind flow. It
varies from one point to another because of the variable heights of the buildings
below and wind speed. It is also more homogeneous in its properties over the
urban area than the UCL. In the UBL, the complex terrain increases the roughness
of the surface and therefore increases the turbulence.

Figure 12: Schematic representation of the urban atmosphere illustrating a 2-layer classification of
urban modification (Source: Oke 1987).
In highly urbanized cities like Hong Kong or Singapore, most residential estates
have high canyon geometry ratios e.g. 2-3. According to Oke, 70-80% of daytime
radiant energy surplus within urban canyons is dissipated to the air through
turbulent transfer. The balance 20-30% is stored and released at night [78].
Some key parameters that affect the air flow in urban landscape [14, 79] are the
1. The prevailing breezeway or air path. The overall permeability of the
district has to be increased at ground level. This is to ensure that the
prevailing wind travels along breezeways and major roads can
penetrate deeply into the district. This can be achieved by proper
linking of open spaces, creation of open plazas at roads junctions,
maintaining low-rise structures along prevailing wind direction.
2. Variation of building height. Varying the height of buildings
significantly improves the penetration of the airflow in the urban
landscape. Stepping building height in rows would also create better
22 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf
wind at higher levels if the differences in building heights between
rows are significant.
3. Orientation and layout of the buildings/streets with adequate gaps
between buildings are essential for good airflow. The main streets and
breezeways should be aligned in parallel or up to 30 to the prevailing
wind direction, in order to maximize the penetration of prevailing
winds through the estate. Building axis should be parallel to the
prevailing wind to avoid obstruction (Fig. 13).
4. Increasing the permeability of building blocks by the provision of
void decks at ground level or at mid-span. This helps improve the
ventilation for pedestrians, and to remove the pollutants and heat
generated at ground level.

Figure 13: Orientation of street grids (Source: Ng E. 2009).
When the prevailing wind blows perpendicular to the street canyon, there are
three regimes of wind patterns, which are a function of building (L/H) and canyon
geometries (H/W) [70, 80, 81]. These are the isolated roughness flow (IRF), the
wake interference flow (WIF) and the skimming flow (SF), see Fig. 14. Wind
flows are considered perpendicular when the predominant airflow direction is
approximately (30) to the long axis of the street canyon.
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 23

Figure 14: (a), (b), (c) Perpendicular flow regimes in urban canyons for different aspect ratios
(Source: Oke 1988).
The airflow pattern of the widely spaced buildings, i.e. H/W < 0.4 for cubic and <
0.3 for row buildings, is similar to the airflow pattern of the isolated ones (Fig.
14a). For a closer spacing, such as H/W up to 0.7 for cubes and 0.65 for row
buildings, the airflow pattern changes to wake interference flow (Fig 14b). It is
characterized by a reverse (with respect to upwind flow direction) horizontal flow
in the lower canyon and forward flow along the canyon top. A small vortex may
appear behind the upwind building but it is not dominant. An area of low wind
speed appears in the canyon center. Maximum wind occurs at the top of the
canyon and relatively high wind speed occurs down the face of the downwind
building. At the higher building geometry (H/W) and density, the main airflow
skims over the building rooftops and the bulk of the airflow does not enter the
canyon. This flow is named as skimming flow (Fig. 14c).
The relationship between the three principle airflow regimes and their respective
canyon H/W and L/H ratios has been summarized by Oke [80], as shown in Fig. 15.
24 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf

Figure 15: Threshold for flow regimes in urban canyons as functions of urban canyon H/W &
L/W ratios (Source: Oke 1988).
Cool Materials
The optical and thermal characteristics of building materials that determine the
energy consumption in the built environment, is the solar radiation albedo and the
emissivity of long wave radiation. Those parameters have a very important impact
on the urban energy balance as seen in Fig. 16. The albedo of a surface is defined
as its reflectivity, integrated hemi-spherically over the wavelength. The usage of
high albedo materials keeps the surface temperature lower by reducing the amount
of solar radiation absorbed into the buildings and the ambient air temperature at
urban level [82]. Table 2 shows the albedo of various typical urban materials and
areas [70, 83-85].

Figure 16: Diagram of cool roof system (Source: U.S. Cool Roof Rating Council).
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 25
Table 2: Albedo of typical urban materials and areas [70, 83-85]
Surface Albedo
Asphalt (fresh 0.05, aged 0.2)

0.05 - 0.20
Whitewashed stone
White marble chips
Light colored brick
Red brick
Dark brick and slate

0.10 - 0.35
0.20 - 0.40
0.30 - 0.50
0.20 - 0.30
0.30 - 0.45
Smooth-surface asphalt (weathered)
Tar and gravel
Corrugated iron
Highly reflective roof (weathered)

0.10 - 0.15
0.08 - 0.18
0.10 - 0.35
0.15 - 0.20
0.10 - 0.16
0.60 - 0.70
White, whitewash
Red, brown, green

0.50 - 0.90
0.20 - 0.35
0.02 - 0.15
Urban Areas

0.10 - 0.27
Light-colored sand
Dry grass
Average soil
Dry sand
Deciduous plants
Deciduous forests
Cultivated soil
Wet sand
Coniferous forests
Dark cultivated soil
Grass and leaf mulch

0.40 - 0.60
0.20 - 0.30
0.20 - 0.30
0.15 - 0.20
0.10 - 0.20
0.10 - 0.15
0.07 - 0.10
Extensive studies on cool coating materials for roofs or other buildings surfaces
as one of solutions to mitigate UHI have been conducted during the last decade.
26 Cool Materials for the Built Environment Wong and Jusuf
Cool roof is identified as a roofing system that is able to deliver high solar
reflectance and high thermal emittance [86]. Cool roof system is purposed to
reduce heat load for air conditioning system, energy usage and CO
released to
atmosphere. Bretz and Akbari [87] studied the relation between albedo of three
different coatings, which were applied on three buildings roofs, and building
energy consumption. From the two months up to six years measurements, it is
shown that the higher the roof albedo value, the higher the percentage of energy
savings. However, over the time, albedo values of the coated roofs dropped due to
the accumulation of dirt and microbial growth causing at the same time, a similar
reduction of the energy saving percentage. Experiments of washing the roof
showed that albedo value drops was only temporary and it would recover 90% of
its original value upon the washing although it may not be cost effective.
ENERGY STAR labeled roof products are able to reduce surface temperature up to
100F (equal to 37.79
C) and peak cooling demand by 10-15%. White or light colors
coated roofs have been promoted widely in the U.S. to achieve cooler roof surface
temperatures by increasing solar reflectance as a complementary alternative to metal
roofing system which has high thermal emittance but low solar reflectance [88].
Synnefa et al. [89] conducted a study on the thermal performance of non-white
cool colored coatings. Ten prototypes of cool colored coating tiles were compared
with standard coating tiles for a period of three months during daytime and
nighttime. The results show that cool colored coating tiles are more selective in
absorbing infrared band, resulting in higher solar reflectance and lower surface
temperature. From their experiment, there is a correlation between solar
reflectance and surface temperature during daytime. These cool coatings can be
applied to other building materials besides roofs.
Another experimental study done by Simpson and McPherson [90] on three
identical scaled model houses in Tucson, Arizona for period of three months
showed that white roof, which has a higher albedo compared to silver or gray and
brown roofs, reduced the surface temperature to almost 20
C compared to a gray
or silver roof and to almost 30
C compared to a brown roof. However, detailed
observation also showed that increasing building surface's albedo may not be
effective in reducing its temperature if the emissivity is also reduced.
Urban Heat Island and Mitigation Strategies at City Cool Materials for the Built Environment 27
The issues of aesthetic and maintenance require darker roof colors more desirable
than white or light coated color roofs. Karlessi et al. [91] conducted a comparative
study between thermochromic coatings, cool and common coatings. The research
showed that thermochromic coatings are able to respond thermally to the
environment. Thermochromic coating colors faded or became colourless when the
ambient temperature was higher than the transition temperature. Under these
conditions the surface reflects more solar radiation, hence, reduces the surface
With similar principles with cool roofs, cool pavements have been promoted
aggressively the last years. Akbari et al. [92] believes that by implementing cool
roofs and cool pavements, the urban areas overall albedo can be increased by
about 0.1. The study predicted that by increasing albedo of urban roofs and paved
surfaces worldwide offsets 44Gt of emitted CO
. Kinouchi [93] studied the
structure of pigment and coating with low reflectivity in the visible part of
sunlight spectrum and high reflectivity of near infrared. The field measurement on
paint coated asphalt pavement indicated 15C lower than conventional asphalt
Part of information included in this chapter has been previously published in
author's own publication.
The author(s) confirm that this article content has no conflict of interest.
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