WIT Press

Outdoor Thermal Performance Investigations: Towards A Sustainable Tropical Environment


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

23 - 41




746 kb


A. Abu Bakar, N. Abdul Malek


Most developing countries lay close to the equatorial line of tropical climates with their cities experiencing rapid urbanization, population growth and physical change. This accelerates the changes in their urban landscape, which results in, among others things, the urban heat island phenomenon (UHI). The global temperature increment also increases the cooling load and thus more energy is consumed. Attention is given to building design and its technological advancement in energy saving and conservation; not much research is being conducted on the Malaysia’s microclimate and the outdoor thermal environment, although they affect the energy consumption of buildings. This paper discusses the approaches adopted in investigating the hot-humid outdoor environment of Malaysia towards understanding how landscape design is affecting the microclimate. Several cases of past research on how ground surfaces affect the adjacent thermal environment, the impact of landscape setting on the microclimate and the influence of the physical dimensions of trees in screening solar radiation are presented. These parameters seem to have a direct influence on the outdoor thermal performance. The findings suggested that the landscape settings influence the microclimate of outdoor spaces, where the high quantity of trees and large tree size seems to lower the ambient temperature. Turfed surfaces seem to lower the ambient temperature compared to tar-mac surfaces. Several recommendations through design initiatives to mitigate the UHI effects in urban areas are made.


urban heat island, ground surface material, tree aspect, landscape setting, thermal environment