Outdoor microclimate and building energy simulation: a successful couple

Most of the projects and studies performed with ENVI-met focus on the impact of the built environment on the local microclimate with an emphasis on thermal comfort in the outdoor space. However, in the last year there is an increasing tendencyto look the other way round as well: Which impact does the local microclimate has on the buildings’ energy performance and indoor thermal comfort? Many energy simulations of buildings use standardised meteorological data of typical conditions at the building’s location, but these data cannot include the effects of the urban surrounding including neighbour buildings, vegetation or the general disposition of the city quarter.
One way to improve the simulation of an urban building is to “urbanize” the meteorological data using ENVI-met simulations and then use the site-specific weather data instead of some general regional reference data. In a recent paper, Huang and Li (2017), studied the impact of the microclimate that develops in different orientated and sized street canyons and the resulting cooling load of the buildings in Taipei, Taiwan, using ENVI-met.

[[Kuo-Tsang Huang, Yi-Jhen Li, Impact of street canyon typology on building’s peak cooling energy demand: a parametric analysis using orthogonal experiment, Energy and Buildings http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.enbuild.2017.08.054]]

You can also go one step further and look at both the outdoor climate and the buildings at the same time, for example in the case of a school building. Here, the outdoor thermal comfort of the children playing on the yard during the break is a large concern, especially as there are limited options for the kids to change places in the case of thermal discomfort. In addition, the energy consumption of a school building is an important economical factor especially for public schools.

For more information on this aspect, have a look at the recent article from Zhang and colleagues (2017) analysing schoolyard design, thermal comfort and energy efficiency for a school in northern China using ENVI-met.

[[Zhang A, Bokel R, van den Dobbelsteen A, Sun Y, Huang Q, Zhang Q, An integrated school and schoolyard design method for summer thermal comfort and energy efficiency in Northern China, Building and Environment (2017), http://dx.doi.10.1016/j.buildenv.2017.08.024]]