Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2022

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)


College of Arts and Sciences


Environmental Management

First Advisor

John Callaway


With extreme heat events projected to become more frequent and longer-lasting, heat vulnerable communities affected by urban heat islands face disproportionate heat impacts. While cities have adopted heat adaptation efforts, there needs to be a focus on vulnerable communities to ensure an equitable distribution of adaptation efforts. Green infrastructure has been a long-standing heat adaptation method with benefits including reduced temperatures, reduced energy consumption, and reduced air pollution. This research analyzed the heat mitigation capacity of four green infrastructure types and identified heat vulnerable communities to address whether current green infrastructure in San Francisco is equitably distributed. Dense tree cover and increased tree abundance had positive impacts on the mitigation ability of each green infrastructure type. San Francisco census tracts with 4.1% poverty had the highest amount of tree abundance and were situated in the coolest parts of the city, while census tracts with 71% poverty were lacking green infrastructure and experienced hotter temperatures. In order for San Francisco to ensure green infrastructure is equitably distributed, I recommend that the scoring process for heat vulnerabilities be modified to consider smaller communities, green infrastructure heat mitigation goals be set for individual districts, and resources for community-led street tree implementation be directed toward vulnerable communities, and green roof retrofitting subsidies or grants offered to existing building. Extreme heat events will continue to affect vulnerable communities if cities are not well prepared, and a just distribution of the resources already being implemented needs to be a priority.