Impacts of vegetation on residential heating and cooling

Computer simulation has been used to test the effects of irradiance and wind reductions on the energy performance of similar residences of 143 m2 in four U.S. cities — Madison, Salt Lake City, Tucson and Miami — representing four different climates. Irradiance reductions from vegetation were modeled using SPS, which simulates shade cast from plants on buildings, and MICROPAS, a microcomputer-based energy analysis program. Space cooling costs were found to be most sensitive to roof and west wall shading, whereas heating costs were most sensitive to south and east wall shading. Irradiance reductions were shown to substantially increase annual heating costs in cold climates ($128 or 28% in Madison), and reduce cooling costs in hot climates ($249 or 61% in Miami). Dense shade on all surfaces reduced peak cooling loads by 31% – 49% or 3108 – 4086 W. A 50% wind reduction was shown to lower annual heating costs by $63 (11%) in Madison, and increased annual cooling costs by $68 (15%) in Miami. Planting designs for cold climates should reduce winter winds and provide solar access to south and east walls. This guideline also applies for temperate climates, however it is also important to avoid blocking summer winds. In hot climates, high-branching shade trees and low ground covers should be used to promote both shade and wind.

Suggested citation or credit:

McPherson , E Gregory, Lee P. Herrington, and Gordon M. Heisler. “Impacts of vegetation on residentialheating and cooling.” Energy and Buildings. 12. no. 1 (1988): 41-51.

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Source: Energy and Buildings

Publication Date: April 1988

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