Exploring the Urban Heat Island Effect
Santamouris recognized heat island as the most documented phenomenon of climate change (Santamouris et. al. 2001). Reinforced energy and pollution problems, changed comfort zones, and threatened endangered-population, necessitate the consideration of heat island effect in planning for urban areas (Santamouris 2014). In recent decades, significant efforts have been made to mitigate the heat island effect, which is a drawback of human activities, and urban structures.
In 1982, T. R. Oke defined human activities, city structures, trapped solar energy, lack of vegetation and cool sinks, and non-circulated air as the variables that underpin heat island phenomenon by increasing inner cities’ temperature (Oak 1982). More recent research works focused on the relationship between land-use and heat island (Chen et. al. 2006). Nonetheless, there is no doubt that heat island influences other phenomena; hence, another group of scientists are emphasizing on the impacts of urban heat island on other physical, and social citywide issues. In this category, the urban heat island is determined as an independent variable. Researchers suggest that the heat-island reduction can reduce the energy consumption within the urban areas (Akbari & Konipacki 2005; Maric, Pucar, and Kovacevic 2015).
The investigation of the characteristics of heat island in a study on small scale areas can provide more information about how to manage the increasing energy consumption in buildings. Hence, this research is exploring the effect of urban development, considering the height of development, and the effect of the Floor Area Ratio of the development on HDD and CDD to recognize the correlation of energy consumption and urban development. Austin considered as the study area because of experiencing a rapid development during the past 30 years, which let the researcher track the changes. Secondary data assisted the researcher to conduct this research. Results showed that the cooling degree day is positively correlated with the floor area ratio of the development. Therefore, recognizing heat mitigation strategies during the summer should be adopted in order to reduce the energy consumption resulted from UHIE.