Connecting inside & outside

Buildings are not independent systems, because the indoor climate and the physics of the building interact continuously with the outside microclimate. Moreover, especially in urban areas, the buildings interact with each other through the modification of wind flows, solar access and temperature effects.

The configuration of buildings, their location and organisation form a unique microclimate at each site. A cluster of buildings, together with urban surroundings such as green areas or traffic infrastructure, form an even more complex and dynamic organism. This includes building materials, surface textures and colours that are exposed to the sun, and the design of open spaces like squares, shopping streets, gardens and roads.

In recent years, new generations of buildings have been developed that are influenced by adaptive materials and constructions that have the ability to react to modifications in their direct or indirect environment.

In order to understand the contribution of individual buildings to the urban microclimate system, and to assess the energy exchange between the interior of the building and the outside microclimate, all elements must be simulated in an integrated simulation framework. The holistic and high-resolution approach of ENVI_MET allows for the simulation of the microscale urban metabolism as a complex system and the energy fluxes at the individual façade element of a single building.

Building physics

Buildings form the majority of the urban landscape and constitute the interface between the indoor world and the outdoor climate. To understand the dynamics of the urban climate and to analyse its impacts on buildings‘ energy conditions and consumption, an integrated modelling of the building physics is essential.

The trend towards urbanisation has made it increasingly important to study the impact of urban climate on the heat island effect and global warming – as well as the impact on the energy consumption of buildings. In addition, urban comfort, health and longevity of buildings related to pedestrian wind, thermal comfort and pollutant dispersion are of increasing interest to architects and city planners. Buildings can be seen as the atomic units of the urban metabolism: the energy exchange processes taking place at their outer envelope modify the local microclimate conditions and form the system we call the urban climate. Conversely, the resulting microclimate system also sets the boundary conditions for the building‘s inner climate conditions. The more open a building‘s design, the more it depends on these local conditions to provide reasonable living standards for its inhabitants.

Sustainable urban planning therefore means not only understanding the impact the arrangement of buildings has on the local climate, but also looking at the processes taking place at the single building level.