Learning Lab

Passive and Active Means of Improving Building Microclimate in Saudi Arabia

Passive and Active Means of Improving Building Microclimate in Saudi Arabia

Host Info

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Duncan Phillips
Senior Consultant | Principal
+1.519.823.1311 x2409
Go to Duncan Phillips's page


June 28, 2018
1:30 PM, Riyadh Time (GMT+3)
60 min


By definition, the construction of a building creates a microclimate that is associated with the presence of the building itself. The building creates shade, changes wind flows and reflects light and noise.  These in turn affect other factors such as sand transport, glare, and heat island.  These features have both a local impact and can affect neighboring buildings too.  Therefore any building can be configured to create a better microclimate.  A collection of buildings on a campus can create a larger zone of improved microclimate. 

This seminar describes strategies and processes for designing and harnessing the microclimate around buildings specifically in Saudi Arabia.  Saudi Arabia has different climates – not one strategy meets all.  The seminar will start with a short discussion of the different meteorology around The Kingdom followed by a quick discussion on thermal comfort.  This will then lead to examples by which the microclimate around buildings can be manipulated to enhance the experience of people around those buildings.  Examples from projects in Saudi Arabia such as the Grand Mosque at Makkah, KAUST and K.A.CARE will be used to highlight the advantages of different strategies.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To describe the competing and sometimes contradictory requirements of different parameters in the urban realm and how to manage these to achieve satisfactory levels of air quality, natural ventilation and wind comfort, for example, when one parameter requires a different design decision to another.
  2. To understand the range of different climates around Saudi Arabia.
  3. To identify means for improving thermal comfort within the public realm using different massing, building adjacencies and topologies, etc. to manipulate wind and shade and how rating solutions based on parameters described in the first two learning objectives can be used for evaluation and comparison.
  4. To diagnose different examples from across The Kingdom, using real examples, to learn what works and what doesn't.


Duncan Phillips (Ph.D., P.Eng.) joined RWDI in 2000 as a Specialist and became a Principal in 2009. He is now the Global Practice Leader for Building Performance/Physics at RWDI. He is involved in developing passive and low energy design solutions for individual buildings and communities.  Duncan is sought out by clients from around the globe to provide advice and consultation on unique, one-of-a-kind projects requiring innovative yet practical solutions. His involvement ranges from masterplanning activities for low energy and zero Carbon communities in extreme climates (both hot and cold) to detailed energy performance evaluations of building components such as chilled beams, double skin façades (including thermal and ice accretion performance), wind towers, solar chimneys, etc.  Duncan has worked on projects across Saudi Arabia including the Holey Mosque in Makkah, Princess Noura University in Riyadh and numerous stadia and urban design projects across The Kingdom. 

The quintessential ‘team player’, Duncan is a natural and engaging speaker who provides training and works hand-in-hand with project stakeholders to maximize sustainability for projects all over the world.

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