Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


Environmental Studies

Thesis Type

Honors College, Environmental Studies Electronic Thesis, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Dr. Stephanie Hurley


urban heat island, air quality, temperature, village greens, parks


City cores and urban areas exhibit warmer temperatures than surrounding areas due to the urban heat island (UHI) phenomenon. UHIs are caused by land-use changes, specifically replacing natural land cover with hard urban surfaces including pavement and built infrastructure, as well as from anthropogenic heat release from fuel combustion within cities. Built materials absorb and retain heat, therefore increasing average outdoor air temperatures, while certain pollutants decrease air quality and contributes to temperature increases. Climate change will most likely cause these conditions to prevail and worsen as heatwaves become more intense and frequent. While heat events persist, the need for cooling systems indoors increases and in turn creates a rise in energy consumption and further anthropogenic heat combustion. An increase in urban vegetation can help to reduce the UHI effect by shading building surfaces, increasing land albedo, and releasing moisture into the atmosphere. While several studies have examined the role of urban greenspaces in offsetting UHIs, there are few data regarding whether UHIs exist at small scales such as in small towns and villages in rural areas. Moreover, there is potential for green spaces within developed rural areas including small towns and villages to improve air quality and decrease outdoor air temperatures at a local scale. In this study, I examine the air filtration and cooling effects of ten small-scale village greens throughout Vermont. These village greens tend to have park-like characteristics including open lawn and tree and shrub vegetation. Many historic Vermont village greens are located adjacent to the areas with the most development within a given town, which includes areas of impervious surfaces such as roads and buildings. In this study, air quality and temperature are measured at two edge locations and one center location within each of ten village greens throughout the Fall of 2020. I hypothesized that the air quality would be higher in the center of greens and generally found this to be true. For temperatures, while I hypothesized the centers of the green spaces to be cooler, a difference of no larger than 0.4°C was observed between the edge and centers of village greens. The ten village greens were also separated into five more urban towns and five more rural towns to compare temperature and air quality among locations to see whether there might be a greater contrast between edge and center data points in the comparatively urban Vermont towns versus the rural towns. Overall results showed better air quality and wider temperature variation in rural locations compared to urban locations.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.