This paper is devoted to the assessment of urban greening effects on two important ecosystem services, i.e., air quality and CO2 storage, including the corresponding economic impacts in a real urban area, i.e., a district located in the Mediterranean city of Lecce (southern Italy). Two tools were employed, i-Tree Canopy and the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) microclimate model ENVI-met. i-Tree Canopy allowed fully determining the land-cover percentage on the basis of different ground cover classes and obtaining an estimate of annual values of CO2 storage, air pollutant removal, and economic benefits in the presence of urban greening. The estimate in i-Tree Canopy considered only the amount of greening; therefore, air pollutant removal estimates were only potential. As the vegetation was located in street canyons, its interaction with local meteorology and urban geometry strictly affected the dispersion of nitrogen oxides (NOx) (taken here as an example) as obtained from ENVI-met simulations. In ENVI-met, both deposition/absorption and aerodynamic effects were considered, and local increases in concentration were found in the district. The analysis of results obtained from different tools (one complex (CFD model) and the other simple (i-Tree model)) showed the error associated with the simple model in the computation of impacts if the interaction among the vegetation characteristics, the meteorological conditions, and the urban geometry was neglected; however, it also uncovers a novel approach for comprehensively characterizing a given area in terms of its vegetation cover, CO2 storage, and economic benefits, as well as local effects on air quality. This study is set in a broader context aimed at assessing the air quality in urban canopies of Mediterranean areas characterized by the presence of narrow street canyons where pollutants can accumulate due to ineffective air exchange with the above atmosphere.
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