North College Hill is a mainly residential community that features a significant retail district centered around the intersection of Hamilton Ave. and Galbraith Rd. The community doesn’t contain any manufacturing or other energy-intensive industry. This is reflected in the pattern of community-wide energy use. Residential is the largest user of energy, followed by retail and service industries.
This is noteworthy because it indicates the community should focus on these land uses in efforts to reduce energy use.
Residential Energy Efficiency
The graphic below shows the many improvements – many that are inexpensive do-it-yourself projects, that will save energy use and save money on utility bills.
Energy burden is the percentage of a household’s total income that is spent on energy. The higher the percentage, the higher the energy burden. This measure illustrates how the impact of high energy prices and inefficient housing are disproportionately felt by households in different parts of the community. This information can be used to guide efforts to specifically reach out to households with high energy burden with programs that can improve energy efficiency and cost.
Energy burden is measured by combining the average electricity and natural gas sales in a census block and dividing by household income. The result is then divided by the community average. Values over one indicate an average household energy burden greater than the community average. Values less than one indicate energy burden that is less than average.
The data indicates energy burden in North College Hill is not very significant, with the census block experiencing the most energy burden only 17% more than the average. The areas of highest energy burden are concentrated in the eastern half of the city. Reducing the cost of energy can be accomplished through aggregation deals and with income-based energy cost assistance programs that reduce energy burden for the lowest income households in the community.
Urban Heat Island
The urban heat island effect is created by impervious surfaces, such as roads, parking lots, and buildings, which retain heat from the sun’s radiation. At night, these surfaces release the retained heat, creating a localized area of higher temperature. Localized “hot-spots” combine to create a dome of hot air over a metropolitan area.
Impervious surfaces causing increased heat values:
- Dark roofing material
- Parking lots
- High concentration of buildings
- Lack of tree canopy
The phenomenon impacts energy usage, particularly in the summer months, when air conditioners are forced to run more often, and for longer periods of time.
The highest surface temperature values are concentrated along West Galbraith Road and the intersection with Hamilton Avenue. Non-residential development and large parking lots are the primary contributors.
Mitigating Urban Heat Islands
Within the urban landscape, the best way to reduce the impact of the urban heat island effect is through the reduction of large impervious surfaces. Dark surfaces, such as black-top paving and roofing materials aid in the absorption of heat. When large roofs, such as commercial and industrial spaces, are switched to lighter colors, the retention of heat is reduced. Trees should be included in and around parking lots to provide shade and reduce the absorption of heat during the day. Overall, the best way for North College Hill to reduce the heat island effect in the community is through promoting the planting of trees. The chart below shows the direct relationship between tree canopy and lower average surface temperature. Trees save energy and money!