2014 volume 41(4) pages 573 – 593

Cite as:
Ko Y, Radke J D, 2014, "The effect of urban form and residential cooling energy use in Sacramento, California" Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 41(4) 573 – 593

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The effect of urban form and residential cooling energy use in Sacramento, California

Yekang Ko, John D Radke

Abstract. The impact of urban form on residential space-conditioning energy use has been controversial in recent planning literature. This study empirically evaluates the association between urban form and residential energy use, focusing particularly on residential electricity use for space cooling in the City of Sacramento, California. We characterize urban form, property conditions, and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics by applying spatial metrics embedded within a geographic information system where LiDAR data effectively include each building and the surrounding vegetation. A statistical model is applied to assess the relationship between these explanatory variables and the estimated summer air-conditioning energy use. Controlling for other variables, higher population density, east–west street orientation, higher green space density, larger vegetation on the east, south, and especially the west sides of houses, appears to have statistically significant effects on reducing summer cooling energy use. This study quantifies the built environment impact on the energy demand of air conditioning and informs planners as they craft urban planning and design policies for energy conservation.
Keywords: building energy use, passive solar community design, tree planting, GIS

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