Design-Integrated Urban Heat Island Analysis Tool and Workflow: Development and Application
The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect is a well-studied phenomenon broadly attributed to human activities that transform open terrain into cityscapes. Among global 21st-century concerns, projected trends in population growth, urbanization, and regional climate change could exacerbate the warming in cities and intensify the UHI effect. Yet, microclimate analysis essential to assessing UHI intensity is often neglected, resulting in poor planning practices with adverse effects on health, comfort and energy use within cities. With buildings responsible for substantial quantities of global energy consumption and carbon emissions, this context demands climate-responsive design to achieve better performing cities.
The UHI effect presents an urban design challenge, but only recently has there been a platform for design workflow integration. Despite existing engines that accurately evaluate UHI intensity in urban environments, architects, designers, and urban planners have often not incorporated such simulation into microclimate studies due to prohibitively expensive computational costs, disconnected workflows within unintuitive or unfamiliar platforms, and uncertainty about difficult-to-obtain urban climatology parameters. These hindrances cause impactful delay within the design feedback loop and often generate a lack of confidence in the simulation process and output.
This thesis proposes a Computer-Aided-Design integrated graphical user interface for the Urban Weather Generator (UWG), an urban-scale climate prediction tool developed by Bruno Bueno to simulate microclimatic conditions of urban sites using operational weather station data. The goal is to make the powerful and computationally cheap engine accessible to design workflows by incorporating it as a plugin within the conventional design software Rhinoceros-3D, and by coupling it with the Local Climate Zone classification scheme developed by urban climate experts Iain Stewart and Timothy Oke to standardize quantitative physical descriptions of cities. The proposed update automates geometric parameter extraction and implements a reliable means of urban morphological parameter estimation. As a case study, an iterative urban-scale design exploration is analyzed for selected climates.