Re-naturing Cities: Impact of Microclimate, Human Thermal Comfort and Recreational Participation

  • Ruzana SanusiEmail author
  • Sheena Bidin
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


With rapid urbanisation, changes to the urban environment and climate are inevitable. This exacerbates the risks for meteorological hazard such as heatwaves where this is one of the common issues faced by major cities worldwide. Heat related issues pose an impact not only to the environment but also lead to heat related human health problems, economic loss to businesses, damages to infrastructures and in extreme cases, cause deaths. Poor urban designs that are characterised by the abundance of grey infrastructures increase the impact on urban climate with the potential of intensifying heat waves and urban heat island (UHI) effects. Additionally, these grey designs also limit recreational participation. Re-naturing cities using green infrastructure can provide nature-based solutions that can be useful in mitigating the abovementioned meteorological hazards. Therefore, understanding the impact of re-naturing cities using green infrastructures (GI) on microclimate mitigations, human thermal comfort improvement and recreational participation is beneficial in improving the urban environment and ensuring the wellbeing of urban citizens. This paper provides justifications on implementing nature based solutions using green infrastructures in cities, thus improving future urban planning that potentially increases cities' resilience to environmental hazards.


  1. Aida N, Sasidhran S, Kamarudin N, Aziz N, Puan CL, Azhar B (2016) Woody trees, green space and park size improve avian biodiversity in urban landscapes of Peninsular Malaysia. Ecol Ind 69:176–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ali-Toudert F, Mayer H (2006) Numerical study on the effects of aspect ratio and orientation of an urban street canyon on outdoor thermal comfort in hot and dry climate. Build Environ 41(2):94–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ali-Toudert F, Mayer H (2007a) Effects of asymmetry, galleries, overhanging facades and vegetation on thermal comfort in urban street canyons. Sol Energy 81(6):742–754CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ali-Toudert F, Mayer H (2007b) Thermal comfort in an east–west oriented street canyon in Freiburg (Germany) under hot summer conditions. Theoret Appl Climatol 87(1–4):223–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Anderson GB, Bell ML (2010) Heat waves in the United States: mortality risk during heat waves and effect modification by heat wave characteristics in 43 US communities. Environ Health Perspect 119(2):210–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anthopoulos LG, Vakali A (2012) Urban planning and smart cities: interrelations and reciprocities. In: The future internet assembly. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, pp 178–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Aussenac G (2000) Interactions between forest stands and microclimate: ecophysiological aspects and consequences for silviculture. Ann For Sci 57(3):287–301CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bauduceau N, Berry P, Cecchi C, Elmqvist T, Fernandez M, Hartig T et al (2015) Towards an EU research and innovation policy agenda for nature-based solutions & re-naturing cities: final report of the Horizon 2020 expert group on ‘nature-based solutions and re-naturing cities’. Publications Office of the European Union, Bruxelles, 76 ppGoogle Scholar
  9. Baur AH, Förster M, Kleinschmit B (2015) The spatial dimension of urban greenhouse gas emissions: analyzing the influence of spatial structures and LULC patterns in European cities. Landsc Ecol 30(7):1195–1205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Block AH, Livesley SJ, Williams NS (2012) Responding to the urban heat island: a review of the potential of green infrastructure. Victorian Centre for Climate Change Adaptation Research, Melbourne, AustraliaGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown RD, Gillespie TJ (1995) Microclimatic landscape design: creating thermal comfort and energy efficiency. Wiley, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  12. Brownson RC, Boehmer TK, Luke DA (2005) Declining rates of physical activity in the United States: what are the contributors? Annu Rev Public Health 26:421–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Camuffo D (2013) Microclimate for cultural heritage: conservation, restoration, and maintenance of indoor and outdoor monuments. Elsevier, 526 ppGoogle Scholar
  14. Carrasco-Hernandez R, Smedley AR, Webb AR (2015) Using urban canyon geometries obtained from Google Street View for atmospheric studies: potential applications in the calculation of street level total shortwave irradiances. Energy Build 86:340–348CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chen K, Bi J, Chen J, Chen X, Huang L, Zhou L (2015) Influence of heat wave definitions to the added effect of heat waves on daily mortality in Nanjing, China. Sci Total Environ 506:18–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Chen J, Theller L, Gitau MW, Engel BA, Harbor JM (2017) Urbanization impacts on surface runoff of the contiguous United States. J Environ Manage 100(187):470–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Connop S, Vandergert P, Eisenberg B, Collier MJ, Nash C, Clough J, Newport D (2016) Renaturing cities using a regionally-focused biodiversity-led multifunctional benefits approach to urban green infrastructure. Environ Sci Policy 62:99–111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Coutts AM, Tapper NJ, Beringer J, Loughnan M, Demuzere M (2013) Watering our cities: the capacity for water sensitive urban design to support urban cooling and improve human thermal comfort in the Australian context. Prog Phys Geogr 37(1):2–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. da Silveira Hirashima SQ, Katzschner A, Ferreira DG, de Assis ES, Katzschner L (2018) Thermal comfort comparison and evaluation in different climates. Urban Clim 23:219–230CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. de Abreu-Harbich LV, Labaki LC, Matzarakis A (2015) Effect of tree planting design and tree species on human thermal comfort in the tropics. Landsc Urban Plan 138:99–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. de Noblet-Ducoudré N, Boisier JP, Pitman A, Bonan GB, Brovkin V, Cruz F et al (2012) Determining robust impacts of land-use-induced land cover changes on surface climate over North America and Eurasia: results from the first set of LUCID experiments. J Clim 25(9):3261–3281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Debbage N, Shepherd JM (2015) The urban heat island effect and city contiguity. Comput Environ Urban Syst 54:181–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dobbs C, Escobedo FJ, Zipperer WC (2011) A framework for developing urban forest ecosystem services and goods indicators. Landsc Urban Plan 99(3–4):196–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ellaway A, Macintyre S, Bonnefoy X (2005) Graffiti, greenery, and obesity in adults: secondary analysis of European cross sectional survey. BMJ 331(7517):611–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Fernandez M, Shinew KJ, Stodolska M (2015) Effects of acculturation and access on recreation participation among Latinos. Leis Sci 37(3):210–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fouillet A, Rey G, Laurent F, Pavillon G, Bellec S, Guihenneuc-Jouyaux C et al (2006) Excess mortality related to the August 2003 heat wave in France. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 80(1):16–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Georgi NJ, Zafiriadis K (2006) The impact of park trees on microclimate in urban areas. Urban Ecosyst 9(3):195–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Giles-Corti B, Donovan RJ (2002) Socioeconomic status differences in recreational physical activity levels and real and perceived access to a supportive physical environment. Prev Med 35(6):601–611CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Grimmond S (2007) Urbanization and global environmental change: local effects of urban warming. Geogr J 173(1):83–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Guo Y, Gasparrini A, Li S, Sera F, Vicedo-Cabrera AM, Coelho MDSZS et al (2018) Quantifying excess deaths related to heatwaves under climate change scenarios: a multicountry time series modelling study. PLoS Med 15(7):e1002629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hamada S, Ohta T (2010) Seasonal variations in the cooling effect of urban green areas on surrounding urban areas. Urban For Urban Green 9(1):15–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Harrison C, Donnelly IA (2011) A theory of smart cities. In: Proceedings of the 55th annual meeting of the ISSS-2011, Hull, UK, Sept 2011, vol 55, no 1Google Scholar
  33. Hass AL, Ellis KN, Mason LR, Hathaway JM, Howe DA (2016) Heat and humidity in the city: neighborhood heat index variability in a mid-sized city in the southeastern United States. Int J Environ Res Public Health 13(1):117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hopp S, Dominici F, Bobb JF (2018) Medical diagnoses of heat wave-related hospital admissions in older adults. Prev Med 110:81–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hutyra L, Yoon B, Alberti M (2011) Terrestrial carbon stocks across a gradient of urbanization: a study of the Seattle, WA region. Glob Change Biol 17(2):783–797CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. IPCC (2014) Climate change 2014: synthesis report. Contribution of working groups I, II and III to the fifth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (eds: Core Writing Team, Pachauri RK, Meyer LA). IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, 151 ppGoogle Scholar
  37. Ishola KA, Okogbue EC, Adeyeri OE (2016) Dynamics of surface urban biophysical compositions and its impact on land surface thermal field. Model Earth Syst Environ 2(4):208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jim CY (2015) Assessing climate-adaptation effect of extensive tropical green roofs in cities. Landsc Urban Plan 138:54–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Joe L, Hoshiko S, Dobraca D, Jackson R, Smorodinsky S, Smith D, Harnly M (2016) Mortality during a large-scale heat wave by place, demographic group, internal and external causes of death, and building climate zone. Int J Environ Res Public Health 13(3):299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Klemm W, Heusinkveld BG, Lenzholzer S, Jacobs MH, van Hove B (2015) Psychological and physical impact of urban green spaces on outdoor thermal comfort during summertime in The Netherlands. Build Environ 83:120–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Klinenberg E (2015) Heat wave: a social autopsy of disaster in Chicago. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lafortezza R, Chen J, van den Bosch CK, Randrup TB (2018) Nature-based solutions for resilient landscapes and cities. Environ Res 165:431–441CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lagadec P (2004) Understanding the French 2003 heat wave experience: beyond the heat, a multi-layered challenge. J Contingencies Crisis Manag 12(4):160–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Le Quéré C, Moriarty R, Andrew RM, Canadell JG, Sitch S, Korsbakken JI et al (2015) Global carbon budget 2015. Earth Syst Sci Data 7(2):349–396CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Lee H, Mayer H (2018) Thermal comfort of pedestrians in an urban street canyon is affected by increasing albedo of building walls. Int J Biometeorol 62(7):1199–1209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lee IM, Shiroma EJ, Lobelo F, Puska P, Blair SN, Katzmarzyk PT (2012) Effect of physical inactivity on major non-communicable diseases worldwide: an analysis of burden of disease and life expectancy. Lancet 380(9838):219–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. López-Bueno JA, Díaz J, Linares C (2019) Differences in the impact of heat waves according to urban and peri-urban factors in Madrid. Int J Biometeorol 63(3):371–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Luber G, McGeehin M (2008) Climate change and extreme heat events. Am J Prev Med 35(5):429–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mayer H, Holst J, Dostal P, Imbery F, Schindler D (2008) Human thermal comfort in summer within an urban street canyon in Central Europe. Meteorol Z 17(3):241–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McCarthy MP, Best MJ, Betts RA (2010) Climate change in cities due to global warming and urban effects. Geophys Res Lett 37(9):L09705CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Miranda A, Altamirano A, Cayuela L, Lara A, González M (2017) Native forest loss in the Chilean biodiversity hotspot: revealing the evidence. Reg Environ Change 17(1):285–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mirzaei PA (2015) Recent challenges in modeling of urban heat island. Sustain Cities Soc 19:200–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Mishra V, Ganguly AR, Nijssen B, Lettenmaier DP (2015) Changes in observed climate extremes in global urban areas. Environ Res Lett 10:024005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mohan M, Kandya A (2015) Impact of urbanization and land-use/land-cover change on diurnal temperature range: a case study of tropical urban airshed of India using remote sensing data. Sci Total Environ 506:453–465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Morakinyo TE, Lau KK, Ren C, Ng E (2018) Performance of Hong Kong’s common trees species for outdoor temperature regulation, thermal comfort and energy saving. Build Environ 137:157–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Morris KI, Chan A, Salleh SA, Ooi MCG, Oozeer MY, Abakr YA (2016) Numerical study on the urbanisation of Putrajaya and its interaction with the local climate, over a decade. Urban Clim 16:1–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Ndolo JI, Muthama NJ, Oludhe C, Ng’ang’a JK, Odingo RS (2018) Influence of urbanisation on minimum and maximum temperature characteristics over Nairobi City. J Clim 1(2):73–80Google Scholar
  58. Ng E, Cheng V (2012) Urban human thermal comfort in hot and humid Hong Kong. Energy Build 55:51–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Pathirana A, Denekew HB, Veerbeek W, Zevenbergen C, Banda AT (2014) Impact of urban growth-driven landuse change on microclimate and extreme precipitation—a sensitivity study. Atmos Res 138:59–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Qaid A, Lamit HB, Ossen DR, Shahminan RNR (2016) Urban heat island and thermal comfort conditions at micro-climate scale in a tropical planned city. Energy Build 133:577–595CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Qaid A, Lamit HB, Ossen DR, Rasidi MH (2018) Effect of the position of the visible sky in determining the sky view factor on micrometeorological and human thermal comfort conditions in urban street canyons. Theoret Appl Climatol 131(3–4):1083–1100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Qi JD, He BJ, Wang M, Zhu J, Fu WC (2019) Do grey infrastructures always elevate urban temperature? No, utilizing grey infrastructures to mitigate urban heat island effects. Sustain Cities Soc 101392Google Scholar
  63. Radhi H, Fikry F, Sharples S (2013) Impacts of urbanisation on the thermal behaviour of new built up environments: a scoping study of the urban heat island in Bahrain. Landsc Urban Plan 113:47–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Rawat JS, Kumar M (2015) Monitoring land use/cover change using remote sensing and GIS techniques: a case study of Hawalbagh block, district Almora, Uttarakhand, India. Egypt J Remote Sens Space Sci 18(1):77–84Google Scholar
  65. Rizwan AM, Dennis LY, Chunho LIU (2008) A review on the generation, determination and mitigation of urban heat island. J Environ Sci 20(1):120–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Rodríguez-Algeciras J, Tablada A, Matzarakis A (2018) Effect of asymmetrical street canyons on pedestrian thermal comfort in warm-humid climate of Cuba. Theoret Appl Climatol 133(3–4):663–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sanusi R, Johnstone D, May P, Livesley SJ (2016) Street orientation and side of the street greatly influence the microclimatic benefits street trees can provide in summer. J Environ Qual 45(1):167–174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sanusi R, Johnstone D, May P, Livesley SJ (2017) Microclimate benefits that different street tree species provide to sidewalk pedestrians relate to differences in Plant Area Index. Landsc Urban Plan 157:502–511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Semenza JC, Rubin CH, Falter KH, Selanikio JD, Flanders WD, Howe HL, Wilhelm JL (1996) Heat-related deaths during the July 1995 heat wave in Chicago. N Engl J Med 335(2):84–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Shahidan MF, Shariff MK, Jones P, Salleh E, Abdullah AM (2010) A comparison of Mesua ferrea L. and Hura crepitans L. for shade creation and radiation modification in improving thermal comfort. Landsc Urban Plan 97(3):168–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Shahrestani M, Yao R, Luo Z, Turkbeyler E, Davies H (2015) A field study of urban microclimates in London. Renew Energy 73:3–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Shishegar N (2013) Street design and urban microclimate: analyzing the effects of street geometry and orientation on airflow and solar access in urban canyons. J Clean Energy Technol 1(1):52–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Sorensen A (2002) The making of urban Japan: cities and planning from Edo to the twenty-first century. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  74. Sreetheran M (2017) Exploring the urban park use, preference and behaviours among the residents of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Urban For Urban Green 25:85–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Takács Á, Kiss M, Hof A, Tanács E, Gulyás Á, Kántor N (2016) Microclimate modification by urban shade trees—an integrated approach to aid ecosystem service based decision-making. Procedia Environ Sci 32:97–109CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Tzoulas K, Korpela K, Venn S, Yli-Pelkonen V, Kaźmierczak A, Niemela J, James P (2007) Promoting ecosystem and human health in urban areas using green infrastructure: a literature review. Landsc Urban Plan 81(3):167–178CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Ulrich RS (1984) View from a window may influence recovery from surgery. Science 224:420–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. UN DESA (2018) Revision of world urbanization prospects. Multimedia Library—United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. Retrieved 7 Feb 2019, from
  79. van Herzele A, de Vries S (2012) Linking green space to health: a comparative study of two urban neighbourhoods in Ghent, Belgium. Popul Environ 34(2):171–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Wang J, Banzhaf E (2018) Towards a better understanding of green infrastructure: a critical review. Ecol Ind 85:758–772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Wang Y, Berardi U, Akbari H (2016) Comparing the effects of urban heat island mitigation strategies for Toronto, Canada. Energy Build 114:2–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wilson CO (2015) Land use/land cover water quality nexus: quantifying anthropogenic influences on surface water quality. Environ Monit Assess 187(7):424CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Woodcock J, Tainio M, Cheshire J, O’Brien O, Goodman A (2014) Health effects of the London bicycle sharing system: health impact modelling study. BMJ 348:g425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Yang J, Yin P, Sun J, Wang B, Zhou M, Li M et al (2019) Heatwave and mortality in 31 major Chinese cities: definition, vulnerability and implications. Sci Total Environ 649:695–702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Yilmaz S, Toy S, Yilmaz H (2007) Human thermal comfort over three different land surfaces during summer in the city of Erzurum, Turkey. Atmósfera 20(3):289–297Google Scholar
  86. Yow DM (2007) Urban heat islands: observations, impacts, and adaptation. Geogr Compass 1(6):1227–1251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Zhang W, Yang J (2014). Development of outdoor recreation in Beijing, China between 1990 and 2010. Cities 37:57–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Zhang W, Yang J, Ma L, Huang C (2015) Factors affecting the use of urban green spaces for physical activities: views of young urban residents in Beijing. Urban For Urban Green 14(4):851–857CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Zhou Y, Shepherd J (2010) Atlanta’s urban heat island under extreme heat conditions and potential mitigation strategies. Nat Hazards 52(3):639–668CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ForestryUniversiti Putra MalaysiaSerdangMalaysia
  2. 2.Institute of Tropical Forestry and Forest Products, Universiti Putra MalaysiaSerdangMalaysia

Personalised recommendations