Using vegetation as design tool in Urban Areas

One of the main challenges in designing comfortable urban environments – especially in the face of Global Climate Change impacts- is to prevent dense settlement from overheating.

This overheating can take place both during the daytime, in areas with low ventilation and high solar inputs, but also during the night when artificial materials release the heat energy collected and stored during the daytime, a phenomenon we call the nocturnal Urban Heat Island.

Using vegetation in different forms from solitary trees over park areas up to vegetated facades and rooftops ca be one of the most efficient tools to reduce the overheating of urban areas both during the day and in nighttime.

When we plan with urban vegetation, we need to keep in mind that the plants are living organism that do not only influence the local microclimate but do also depend on the offered microclimate conditions.

The urban environment is a patchwork of very distinct climate conditions ranging from sheltered backyards up to desert-like conditions on rooftops. Selecting inappropriate plants or forget their maintenance can quickly lead to dead vegetation covers or security risks in the case of larger trees.

ENVI-met already allows the user to analyse the microclimate system from different perspectives. Once a model was created it is easy not only to look at the impact of vegetation on the climate conditions, but also to check the living conditions offered to the plants.

With the upcoming Summer 2020 release, we will further strengthen this planning aspect with the new TreePass, which, in the first version, will allow to asses the wind risk for urban trees based on a complex biomechanical simulation model.