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Special Issue "Sustainable “Passive” Strategies to Improve Resilience and Comfort in Urban Areas: The Role of Construction Materials and Citizens Involvement"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Materials".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2022) | Viewed by 9466

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Federica Rosso
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil Construction and Environmental Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome
Interests: Building technology; Sustainability Energy Efficiency; Natural materials
Prof. Dr. Marco Ferrero
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, 00185 Rome, Italy
Interests: architectural engineering; building performances; regenerative design; stone materials; architectural heritage renovation; building information modelling
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Elisa Di Giuseppe
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Civil Building Engineering and Architecture, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy
Interests: building performance; building materials; life cycle assessment of building components; building energy-efficient and sustainable design; NZEB; building simulation; human thermal comfort; indoor air quality; virtual reality in the built environment; human-building interactions
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Stefano Cascone
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Catania, Department of Civil Engineering & Architecture, Italy
Interests: architecture and engineering; green building
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Prof. Gaetano Sciuto
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Catania, Department of Civil Engineering & Architecture, Italy
Interests: green building; green roof; energy performance

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Urban areas are facing numerous challenges related to changing climate conditions, population growth, and land consumption. Many strategies are being studied to mitigate such challenges: Among them, “passive” ones allow mitigation without consuming additional energy, i.e., by exploiting the intrinsic performance of buildings and urban elements themselves or by involving citizens in adaptation and sustainability actions.

Indeed, the role of materials and construction elements as “passive” strategies towards the improvement of buildings’ energy performance and outdoor comfort in urban open spaces is well acknowledged. Cool materials acting as solar barriers, innovative or advanced insulation materials and bio-based, natural construction elements constitute effective solutions to reduce energy consumption, improve resilience in urban areas, and mitigate the carbon footprint of the built environment. Their application entails a complex evaluation: The intrinsic characteristics of the materials must be effectively exploited and their durability evaluated; the architectural surroundings need to be taken into account in doing so, as well as the specific climate zone where the materials will be applied.

In this panorama, citizens/pedestrians/inhabitants, i.e., those that live the urban areas, are often overlooked, while research demonstrated that their involvement and consideration (e.g., human-based energy retrofit, citizen science, and crowdsourcing phenomena towards urban data collection and participation) with respect to sustainability in urban areas is of fundamental importance. An overall evaluation of citizens’ comfort, as well as their active contribution, must be considered towards urban areas sustainability.

Therefore, in this Special Issue, we aim at gathering original research works and review articles focused on these two main areas. Contributions should investigate one of the two or their synergistic integration, which uncovers high potentialities towards sustainability. The topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Design, development, and characterization of “passive” strategies towards the improvement of the built environment, focusing on materials and/or on the human dimension/citizens;
  • Design, development, and characterization of innovative, bio-based, natural, reused, recycled, and advanced construction materials;
  • Life cycle assessment (LCA) studies on construction materials and components;
  • Numerical and experimental studies on construction materials effectiveness in improving built environment performance; and/or on human-based strategies and citizens involvement;
  • Numerical and experimental studies, methodologies, and case studies about the retrofit of buildings, outdoor urban areas, and indoor comfort improvement;
  • Methodologies and case studies, and numerical and experimental studies about citizens’ involvement towards sustainability in urban areas.

Dr. Federica Rosso
Prof. Marco Ferrero
Prof. Elisa Di Giuseppe
Dr. Stefano Cascone
Prof. Gaetano Sciuto
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Construction materials
  • Citizens’ involvement
  • Sustainable built environment
  • Building energy performance and retrofit
  • Human-based energy retrofit
  • Cool materials
  • Thermal insulation
  • Green and blue solutions
  • Building envelope
  • Urban paving
  • Outdoor and indoor comfort
  • Life cycle assessment

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Article
A Comparative Study of Cooling Performance and Thermal Comfort under Street Market Shades and Tree Canopies in Tropical Savanna Climate
Sustainability 2022, 14(8), 4653; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14084653 - 13 Apr 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 978
Abstract
Walking through street markets is the most popular outdoor activity in Thailand, promoting local economies and tourism. In the year-round hot and humid conditions, living outdoors with long heat exposure throughout the midday can result in heat-related illness. Artificial shade structures and tree [...] Read more.
Walking through street markets is the most popular outdoor activity in Thailand, promoting local economies and tourism. In the year-round hot and humid conditions, living outdoors with long heat exposure throughout the midday can result in heat-related illness. Artificial shade structures and tree shade canopies are typical cooling strategies to protect market sellers and pedestrians from direct sun exposure and improve outdoor human thermal comfort in the street market. This study investigates microclimate conditions and cooling benefits of typical street market shade structures with different settings—three roofing materials, two roof shapes, and surrounding trees with dense and sparse canopies. The dimension of the single artificial shade was 2 m × 2 m with heights varying 2–2.5 m. The vertical air temperature and sky view factor profiles were measured on winter and summer days. The calculated physiological equivalent temperatures (PET) and thermal comfortable hours beneath different shade structures were assessed using RayMan 1.2 software. A cluster of trees with a dense canopy provided more effective cooling (with a satisfied thermal condition of 9 h) than artificial shade structures. Thermal conditions under the galvanized steel roofing and HDPE tarpaulin plastic roofing shades were cooler than those of polycarbonate roofing shade. Meanwhile, the space beneath the sparse tree canopy had the warmest condition. The temperature reductions beneath the artificial shade structure varied throughout the day, with the maximum reduction occurring during midday and the lowest reduction found in the late morning and late afternoon. Our study demonstrates that the tree canopies and artificial shade structures had limited application for providing comfortable conditions throughout midday. To reduce such extreme heat, a combination of shade structures with other cooling techniques is suggested, which should be the focus for further studies. Full article
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Article
Flood Resilience and Adaptation in the Built Environment: How Far along Are We?
Sustainability 2022, 14(7), 4096; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14074096 - 30 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1373
Abstract
Cities are experiencing an increased rate of climate-related extreme events threats derived from climate change. Floods are one of the most challenging issues to address to reduce damages and losses in urban areas. Building resilience through adaptation to these changing conditions has become [...] Read more.
Cities are experiencing an increased rate of climate-related extreme events threats derived from climate change. Floods are one of the most challenging issues to address to reduce damages and losses in urban areas. Building resilience through adaptation to these changing conditions has become a common goal for different disciplines involving planning for the future. Adaptation planning is widely recognized as generally applicable to any field. However, there are current limitations to overcome for architectural and urban planning to switch from theory to practice. This paper proposes a critical overview of literature works on flood mitigative strategies and adaptive approaches considering uncertainties, linking strategies for the Built Environment (BE) to mitigate the effects of floods, and operative frameworks to pursue adaptation under changing environmental conditions. The literature selection accounts for the pivotal components of the BE: open spaces (OSs), buildings, and users. Next, we provide an overview of the most relevant adaptive methodologies that have emerged in literature, and, lastly, the planning strategies are discussed, considering the climate-related uncertainties that might undermine the effectiveness of the designed action. The present paper aimed to provide a contribution to the discussion regarding the necessity of making architectural and urban planning adaptive, providing a base for future studies for operative adaptation. Full article
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Article
Greenery System for Cooling Down Outdoor Spaces: Results of an Experimental Study
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 5888; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12155888 - 22 Jul 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2013
Abstract
Urban green infrastructure (UGI) and nature-based solutions (NBS) are increasingly recognized as strategies to address urban sustainability challenges. These solutions are attracting key scientific and marketing attention thanks to their capability to improve indoor and outdoor thermal comfort and environmental quality of spaces. [...] Read more.
Urban green infrastructure (UGI) and nature-based solutions (NBS) are increasingly recognized as strategies to address urban sustainability challenges. These solutions are attracting key scientific and marketing attention thanks to their capability to improve indoor and outdoor thermal comfort and environmental quality of spaces. In urban areas, where most of the population worldwide lives, indoor-outdoor environmental quality is compromised by local and temporary overheating phenomena, air pollution concentration, and impervious surfaces minimizing urban space resilience to climate change related hazards. In this view, the proposed study concerns the analysis of a greenery system for enhancing outdoor thermal conditions and local warming mitigation for pedestrians for the continental Mediterranean climate. The system has the purpose of designing an outdoor “alive” shading system to be applied in open public spaces, with producing physical and societal benefits. The experimental results showed that the implementation of the greenery, characterized by lower surface temperatures and evapotranspiration compared to a simple pergola system, allows the reduction of outdoor air temperature under the shading system and, thus, higher relative humidity in summer. Specifically, the hygrothermal cooling and the additional shading thanks to the presence of greenery provide local air temperature reduction up to 5 °C at pedestrian level. Full article
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Article
Investigation of CO2 Variation and Mapping Through Wearable Sensing Techniques for Measuring Pedestrians’ Exposure in Urban Areas
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3936; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093936 - 11 May 2020
Cited by 24 | Viewed by 2415
Abstract
Citizens’ wellbeing is mainly threatened by poor air quality and local overheating due to human-activity concentration and land-cover/surface modification in urban areas. Peculiar morphology and metabolism of urban areas lead to the well-known urban-heat-island effect, characterized by higher air temperature in cities than [...] Read more.
Citizens’ wellbeing is mainly threatened by poor air quality and local overheating due to human-activity concentration and land-cover/surface modification in urban areas. Peculiar morphology and metabolism of urban areas lead to the well-known urban-heat-island effect, characterized by higher air temperature in cities than in their surroundings. The environmental mapping of the urban outdoors at the pedestrian height could be a key tool to identify risky areas for humans in terms of both poor-air-quality exposure and thermal comfort. This study proposes urban environment investigation through a wearable miniaturized weather station to get the spatial distribution of key parameters according to the citizens’ perspective. The innovative system monitors and traces the field values of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration, such as air temperature and wind-speed values, which have been demonstrated to be related to outdoor wellbeing. The presented monitoring campaign focused on a two-way, two-lane road in Rome (Italy) during traffic rush hours on both working days and weekends. Collected data were analyzed with respect to timing and position, and possible correlations among different variables were examined. Results demonstrated the wearable system capability to catch pedestrian-exposure variability in terms of CO2 concentration and local overheating due to urban structure, highlighting potentials in the citizens’ involvement as observation vectors to extensively monitor urban environmental quality. Full article
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Review

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Review
Urban Ventilation in the Compact City: A Critical Review and a Multidisciplinary Methodology for Improving Sustainability and Resilience in Urban Areas
Sustainability 2022, 14(7), 3948; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14073948 - 26 Mar 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1677
Abstract
In the last decades, a tendency towards urban tissue densification has been observed to counteract the urban sprawl. Densification may be achieved through more compact built areas, preferring the vertical to the horizontal development of buildings but avoiding bulky high-rise building blocks. This [...] Read more.
In the last decades, a tendency towards urban tissue densification has been observed to counteract the urban sprawl. Densification may be achieved through more compact built areas, preferring the vertical to the horizontal development of buildings but avoiding bulky high-rise building blocks. This strategy significantly affects several aspects of the microclimate and produces direct and indirect effects on human health and well-being. In this regard, air pollution and heat stress constitute two increasing threats to human health and well-being that need to be faced immediately. The involved phenomena are various, intertwined, and may lead to conflicting results. Hence, regenerating existing, well-structured, and stratified urban areas by densification is not an easy challenge. Urban ventilation may favor the mitigation of detrimental effects of air pollution and heat stress on human life. Therefore, a multidisciplinary methodology is presented for embedding urban ventilation performance evaluation into urban management and planning processes. The scope is to propose a framework for urban renewal plans that is citizens-centered and aims at improving their health and well-being in existing urban areas. The methodology builds upon the performance-based approach and is supported by the conceptual framework and the literature reviews provided through the paper. Full article
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