Positive effects of vegetation: urban heat island and green roofs

Environ Pollut. 2011 Aug-Sep;159(8-9):2119-26. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2011.03.007. Epub 2011 Apr 8.


This paper attempts to evaluate the positive effects of vegetation with a multi-scale approach: an urban and a building scale. Monitoring the urban heat island in four areas of New York City, we have found an average of 2 °C difference of temperatures between the most and the least vegetated areas, ascribable to the substitution of vegetation with man-made building materials. At micro-scale, we have assessed the effect of surface albedo on climate through the use of a climatological model. Then, using the CO(2) equivalents as indicators of the impact on climate, we have compared the surface albedo, and the construction, replacement and use phase of a black, a white and a green roof. By our analyses, we found that both the white and the green roofs are less impactive than the black one; with the thermal resistance, the biological activity of plants and the surface albedo playing a crucial role.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / prevention & control
  • Carbon Dioxide / analysis
  • Carbon Sequestration
  • Cities*
  • Climate*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Environmental Restoration and Remediation / methods*
  • Facility Design and Construction / methods*
  • Hot Temperature*
  • Plant Development*
  • Water Pollution / prevention & control


  • Carbon Dioxide