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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Facing the urban overheating: Recent developments. Mitigation potential and sensitivity of the main technologies

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Urban overheating represents an internationally acknowledged anthropogenic phenomenon related to climate change and to the massive shift of population worldwide toward urban areas, which are increasingly enlarging their size and density. The consequences of this urban warming (i.e., urban heat island) may compromise citizens’ quality of life in urban areas, indoor and outdoor comfort perception, and building energy performance in summer conditions. In this panorama, this review presents recent contributions demonstrating the effectiveness and urgent need of existing mitigation strategies. The same strategies are also comparatively assessed by means of a sensitivity analysis demonstrating their effect with varying climate conditions and urban context. Results of existing studies, validated by the present assessment, aimed at quantitatively investigating the effect of mitigation strategies for reducing building cooling needs and enhancing urban well‐being, thanks to international scientific effort carried out in the last decades. To this aim, the logical flow of the review deals with the main technologies for urban warming mitigation are described, together with the main findings of numerical and experimental research initiatives, demonstrating the field effect of improving pedestrians comfort and urban well‐being all around the world. Then, the mitigation potential of key green, water and cool strategies is critically reviewed, and further scientific and implementation needs are discussed. All the reviewed contributions demonstrate an undeniable technology readiness level for their practical implementation and highlight the true necessity of a shared and synergistic policy effort worldwide.

This article is categorized under:

  • Energy and Urban Design > Systems and Infrastructure
  • Concentrating Solar Power > Climate and Environment
  • Energy Efficiency > Climate and Environment
Review framework: Facing urban heat island through effective and acknowledged mitigation strategies
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Calculated temperature decrease of the flowing along evaporative coolers, as a function of the wind speed
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Decrease of the ambient temperature flowing along evaporative coolers, as a function of its moisture content increase
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Map of the simulated urban zone
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Range of the ambient temperature in Athens, when 50% of the space is covered with cool pavements, with reflectivity equal to 0.5, for three different wind speeds
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A variation of the temperature drop caused by cool pavements in Athens and Munich, as a function of their albedo, when the pavement's fraction of the total area is 50%
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Calculated temperature drop when cool pavements are used in Munich, for different albedo values and pavement fractions of the total space. Wind speed: 1 m/s
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Calculated temperature drop when cool pavements are used in Athens, for different reflectivity values and pavement fractions of the total space. Wind speed: 1 m/s
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Maximum temperature drop in the considered urban zone calculated for the average summer climatic conditions in Athens, Rome, and Munich and for different vegetation densities
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Hygrothermal Urban Heat Island effect in Milan, Italy (Paolini et al., )
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Thermal balance of a cool green roof, enhancing both the high reflectance capability and the evapotranspiration contribution of urban roofs for UHI mitigation (Pisello et al., )
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Different scales of green mitigation strategies for enhancing urban thermal comfort (Norton et al., )
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Typical microclimate analysis of outdoors with varying greenery design for mitigation purpose (Yang, Juan, et al., 2017)
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Statistic information collected by Scopus database updated on March 1, 2017 about publication subject for cool, green, water‐based solutions for UHI mitigation
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Statistic information collected by Scopus database updated on March 1, 2017 about publication typology for cool, green, and water‐based solutions for UHI mitigation
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Statistic information collected by Scopus database updated on March 1, 2017 about publication country for cool, green, and water based solutions for UHI mitigation
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Statistic information collected by Scopus database updated on March 1, 2017 about publication year for cool, green, and water‐based solutions for UHI mitigation
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