Evaporative misters for urban cooling and comfort: effectiveness and motivations for use

Jennifer K. Vanos, Mary K. Wright, Alana Kaiser, Ariane Middel, Harrison Ambrose, David M. Hondula

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Thermal comfort is an important determinant of quality of life and economic vitality in cities. Strategies to improve thermal comfort may become a more critical part of urban sustainability efforts with projections of continued urban growth and climate change. A case study was performed in the hot, dry summertime climate of Tempe, Arizona to quantify the influence of evaporative misters on the thermal environment in outdoor restaurants and to understand business managers’ motivations to use misters. Microclimate measurements (air temperature (Ta), wind speed, relative humidity, globe temperature) were taken at five restaurants midday within four exposures: misted sun, misted shade, sun only, and shade only. We assessed Ta, mean radiant temperature (MRT), universal thermal climate index (UTCI), and physiological equivalent temperature (PET) between these four conditions within each location. Misters improved thermal comfort across all days, sites, and exposure conditions. MRT was on average 7.6 °C lower in misted locations, which significantly lowered average PET (– 6.5 °C) and UTCI (– 4.4 °C) (p < 0.05). Thermal comfort was most improved using mist in combination with shade. Under such conditions, PET and UTCI were reduced by 15.5 °C and 9.7 °C (p < 0.05), respectively. Business managers identified customer comfort and increased seating capacity as the principal factors for mister use. Esthetics of misters further encouraged use, while cost and environmental concerns were perceived to be less important. While this case study demonstrates value in outdoor misting in a hot, dry climate, additional work is needed to more fully evaluate tradeoffs between cost, water use, and comfort with continuing urban growth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational journal of biometeorology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Evaporative cooling
  • Extreme heat
  • Mister
  • Thermal comfort
  • Urban climate
  • Water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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