Shade or proximity: What's more important to you when parking?

Posted at 10:34 PM, Jun 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-08 10:32:18-04

Here in Arizona, we seem to think the best parking space is the one closest to the door — spend less time outside walking from the car, right? 

Turns out, that may be the quickest, but it's definitely not always the coolest! In fact, according to one ASU professor, looking for trees is your best bet. 

With close to 300 days of a sun each year, the sun is our best resource, but it's not always our best friend! 

"I walk campus almost every day and I feel like it really needs more shade," explains Ariana Middel, a professor at Arizona State University. 

She's on a mission to uncover not the quickest way around campus, but the coolest. 

"There are certain routes that are more comfortable than others," she explains.

So to determine that Professor Middel wheels around her...well...we're not sure what to call it! But we do know her contraption — with its sensors and widgets — is measuring "thermal comfort." In other words, how comfortable, or uncomfortable, you feel in the heat.

She's wheeling the device all over campus; measuring the sun's radiation levels, relative humidity, and wind speeds — all of which are factors in determining thermal comfort. 

Typically, paths with the most shade will be the coolest, but they're not always the quickest ways around, so you may have to determine what's more important to you. 

Middel is now hoping to launch a smartphone app for students and faculty to use on ASU's main campus so they too can figure out the coolest ways around. And one day, she'd love to see other places and cities adopt the same technology.