A simulation-based assessment of technologies to reduce heat emissions from buildings

Publication Type

Journal Article

Date Published



Heat emissions from buildings are part of anthropogenic heat leading to urban overheating. This paper aims to assess how technologies (i.e., energy conservation measures - ECMs), used to decrease energy use, may also reduce heat emissions from buildings. This study employs the physics-based engine EnergyPlus to simulate the main components of heat emissions from buildings to ambient air: envelope, zone, and systems. Hourly simulations are run for IECC single- and multi-family reference models with three representative climates: Miami, Baltimore, and Chicago. The results show that the performance of ECMs varies among weather, seasons, and residential typologies. Particularly, some ECMs (i.e., cool coatings, heat pumps, additional insulation, energy-awareness occupants) show a strong decrease in heat emissions, yet they are not always correlated with proportional decreases in energy use. When all ECMs are combined, the reductions are larger on heat emissions (89%) than on site energy (65%) from the base cases. During summer in Miami, the combination of ECMs shows a decrease in heat emissions from the building surface component of 80% during daytime, 92% for the HVAC component and a counterbalanced increase in the zone component of 88%, bringing to a daily decrease in total heat emissions. The main contributions of this study are quantifying how typical ECMs influence residential building heat emissions using EnergyPlus simulations and informing urban planners and stakeholders on prioritizing measures for mitigating urban overheating problems.


Building and Environment



Year of Publication






Short Title

Building and Environment