Urban Greening vs. Urban Densification

A cross-disciplinary team is developing and measuring future ‘what-if’ scenarios for the urban forest in a densifying neighbourhood for urban greening, GHG emissions and livability.

Communities need cross-cutting tools and knowledge for climate action planning to elevate progress. What is unclear for many communities is exactly which changes, such as densification, transit, walkable neighbourhoods, or tree planting bring the most beneficial social outcomes, or future conflicts, and how incremental changes over longer time horizons may add up.

Using a sandbox modeling approach, this project will inform both long-range and day-to-day planning for climate action, urban planning and the urban forest. Our cross-disciplinary team, with expertise in urban design, urban forestry and climate change engagement will investigate where and how much trees can contribute to climate change planning, particularly adapting cities to increasing temperatures to maintain livability in increasingly dense neighbourhoods. We build upon previously developed and measured future ‘what-if’ scenarios of projected neighbourhood densification patterns, add future what-if scenarios for urban forest strategies and measure them for urban greening, GHG emissions and livability.

The project will reveal new information about about when, how, how much trees increase comfort, decrease street-level temperatures and heat island effects, decrease heating/cooling of buildings, improve walkability and where and how future urban densification and urban forests are in conflict all to inform policy decisions and community action.

Project Profile

Sponsor: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

elementslab Team: Cynthia Girling (PI), Yuhao Bean Lu, Jeri Szeto, Taelynn Lam, Ronald Kellett and formerly, Jennifer Reid, Emma Gosselin

Urban Forestry Team: Lorien Nesbitt, Stephen Sheppard, Cindy Zhaohua Cheng, Kanchi Dave, UBC Faculty of Forestry and Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning, and
Sara Barron, University of Melbourne