Energy and water sustainability: The role of urban climate change from metropolitan infrastructure

Jay S. Golden, Anthony Brazel, Jennifer Salmond, David Laws

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


As recently as 1950, 30% of the world's population lived in urban areas. By the year 2030, 60% of the world's population will live in cities. The science of sustainable development requires the ability to examine and understand the implications of broad and aggregate impacts. This is even more difficult in rapidly urbanizing regions globally where the pace of change itself becomes part of what has to be taken into account in engineering designs, modeling, planning, and policy development. Urbanization is quickly transitioning communities from native vegetation to man-made urban engineered infrastructure. Anthropogenic changes in the characteristics of the land surface can have a marked impact on the partitioning of energy at the surface. This is often manifested in microscale and mesoscale modifications to the thermal properties of the surface and atmosphere and can result in significant increases in temperatures in comparison to adjacent rural regions which, is known as the Urban Heat Island Effect (Urban Heat Island or UHI). The UHI is understood in theory, but its practical engineering and policy implications resist interpretation due to the variations in social, economic and environmental conditions in a given region at a given time. The findings of this research indicate that the thermal modifications to the climate as result of urbanization have impacted the sustainability of the Phoenix, Arizona region. Overall HVAC electrical consumption for a representative 2,000 ft2 has increased from 7,888 kWh per year in the 1950's to over 8,873 kWh per year in the 1990's. This also impacts water supply in the arid region as the research finds 6,550 gallons of water is consumed by household for HVAC electricity consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-138
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Green Building
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Electricity
  • Infrastructure
  • Metropolitan
  • Sustainability
  • Urban heat island
  • Urbanization
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Environmental Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture


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