Characterizing the fabric of the urban environment: a case study of Sacramento, California

Publication Type





To estimate the impact of light-colored surfaces (roofs and pavements) and urban vegetation (trees, grass, shrubs) on meteorology and air quality of a city, it is essential to accurately estimate the fraction of various urban surfaces. In this report, we estimate the fabric of Sacramento by analyzing high-resolution (0.30-m) aerial color photographs of about 65 square km of the urban area. The analysis show that in downtown Sacramento, vegetation as seen from above the canopy covers 30% of the area, whereas roofs cover 23% and paved surface 41%. Under-the-canopy fabric consists of 52% paved surfaces, 26% roofs, and 12% grass. In the industrial areas, vegetation covers 8-14% of the area, roofs cover 19-23%, and paved surfaces cover 29-44%. The surface-type percentages in the office areas are 21% trees, 16% roofs, and 49% paved surfaces. In commercial areas,vegetation covers 5-20%, roofs 19-20%, paved surfaces 44-68%. Residential areas exhibit a wide range of percentages of surface-types . On average, vegetation covers about 36% of the area, roofs cover about 20%, and paved surfaces about 28%. Trees mostly shade streets, parking lots, grass, and sidewalks. Under the canopy the percentage of paved surfaces is significantly higher. In most non-residential areas, paved surfaces cover 50-70% of the area. In residential areas, on average, paved surfaces cover about 35% of the area. For an area of roughly 800 sq. km, defining most of metropolitan Sacramento, about half is residential. The total roof area is about 150 sq. km and the total paved surfaces (roads, parking areas, sidewalks) is about 310 sq. km. The total vegetated area is about 230 sq. km.

Year of Publication



Added to JabRef: 2010.04.21


Research Areas