Effects of vegetation, structural and human factors on the thermal performance of residences in a semi-arid environment
AuthorKliman, Susan Schaefer,1963-
Landscape architecture and energy conservation.
Architecture and climate.
Dwellings -- Energy conservation.
Committee ChairComrie, Andrew C.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe objectives of the study were to examine and quantify the relationship between vegetation and the thermal performance of residences in a hot arid environment. Also explored were structural and human influences on residential energy consumption. A primary goal was to determine how much energy savings could be realized through strategic planting of vegetation. This study sought to validate previous simulation and modeling studies that documented annual savings of 2-11% on residential cooling loads. Also examined was whether shrubs and grass could provide a benefit similar to that of trees, assessing the importance of evapotranspiration versus shading. An empirical study was conducted using 105 existing homes in the metropolitan area of Tucson, Arizona. Data included construction type, amenities, living habits of occupants, and energy consumption for heating and cooling over a two-year period. These data were analyzed with a combination of bivariate and multivariate analyses to examine direct correlations between specific variables and energy consumption and the relative importance of each variable. These analyses were unable to document any measurable savings in summer cooling loads as a result of vegetation adjacent to the house, and the presence of trees actually increased the winter heating load by 2%. While trees provide important shading benefits, and can reduce the direct solar gain through the windows of a house, analysis demonstrated that structural and human factors were the most important aspects in residential energy consumption. The size of the house is of primary importance. Houses with evaporative cooling consumed significantly less energy than those with air conditioning. Thermostat settings and habits regarding thermostat operation were the most critical human factors. Occupants who adjusted their thermostats a few degrees cooler in winter and warmer in summer realized measurable savings. Occupants who turned their heating and cooling equipment off when they were not home used significantly less energy for heating and cooling. These factors far outweighed any impact from vegetation on annual energy consumption. While trees should not be considered as a primary means of reducing annual energy consumption, properly placed vegetation can provide aesthetic benefits and increase the thermal comfort of the occupants.
Degree NamePh. D.
Degree ProgramArid Lands Resources