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Cooling Detroit: A Socio-Spatial Analysis of Equity in Green Roofs as an Urban Heat Island Mitigation Strategy [MS Thesis]

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
December 18, 2018

Multiple studies have quantified the ecosystem services of green infrastructure for both public and environmental health. This study evaluates accessibility to the cooling benefits of green roofs in Detroit, MI, for low-income and marginalized communities, compared to the City’s current heat relief system of designated cooling centers. Regions of the city were evaluated for their vulnerability to the urban heat island effect, which can be alleviated by green roofs due to raised surface albedo and evaporative cooling. Spatial data regarding land surface temperature, income, and race were used to locate where green roof ecosystem services are most needed and how communities within these regions are categorized demographically. Existing green roof efforts were mapped to determine whether siting has occurred where ecosystem services are most needed and how socioeconomic factors might be related to the locations of urban heat island-mitigating green infrastructure. Analysis of the spatial data observed in this study revealed most low-income residents are within walking distance from cooling centers, but not included in the Detroit Future City Urban Green Neighborhoods, while green roofs specifically were in the affluent part of Detroit's core, where the population is predominantly white. Beyond these findings, pertaining specifically to Detroit, the methodology employed here shows potential for application to other city’s urban greening plans.

Research Areas
Urban Systems and Built Environment

energy justice, geospatial analysis, Green infrastructure, green roof, urban heat island

Publication Type
Master's Thesis
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation

Sanchez, Lino. (2018) “Cooling Detroit: A Socio-Spatial Analysis of Equity in Green Roofs as an Urban Heat Island Mitigation Strategy.” Master’s Thesis, University of Michigan: Ann Arbor: 1-39.