When you shade hardscapes you are reducing the amount of sun that is shone upon them thus lowering its temperature. If a sidewalk is extremely hot, any rainwater dropped upon may evaporate, or the heat may create a heat island effect thus raising the amount of air conditioning used in the nearby buildings. There is also the amount of light that is reflected by any hardscapes that can create an environmental concern.
A bonus for shading a hardscape surface is that the rainwater runoff could benefit surrounding plants and trees (but that can be bad as well pending on the amount) and having trees near may prevent soil erosion in the long term.
Cited is a website I found that speaks of this issue when concerning LEED standards and considers the point system LEED uses.
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