Low-Impact Development + Green Infrastructure Implementation: Creating a Replicable GIS Suitability Model for Storm Water Management + the Urban Heat Island Effect in Dallas, Texas

Urban Planning Thesis

Nicole Buchholz

David King, advisor

The rapid expansion of developing cities has dramatically changed natural landscapes, altering local ecosystem function characteristics. Changes in permeable surface through the expansion of roadways, parking lots, and other built structures has altered natural water flows, groundwater recharge, impacted water quality, and increased surface temperatures (i.e. the urban heat island effect). Green infrastructure (GI) and low-impact design (LID) mimic natural systems in order to mitigate these impacts, and have a myriad of social, environmental and economic benefits. Current literature on these design practices focuses primarily on the regulatory, managerial, perception, and financial barriers to integration. This thesis addressed the gap in the literature for technical and structural suitability through a replicable, GIS model using the rapidly developing city of Dallas, Texas as a case study. The GIS model integrated five key criteria in Gl and LID suitability: land cover, tree canopy, soil, minority & poverty status and land surface temperature (identifying “hot spots” of urban heat island effect). By providing a replicable GIS model that integrates traditional GI and LID purposes (storm water management), with socio-economic factors, and emerging issues of climate variability (urban heat island effect), the analysis provided technical support for practitioners in urban areas and in order to increase the implementation of these designs.