Learning Lab

Manipulating and Harnessing of the Microclimate Around Buildings

Manipulating and Harnessing of the Microclimate Around Buildings

Host Info

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Duncan Phillips
Global Practice Leader | Principal
+1.519.823.1311 x2409
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November 27, 2019
12:00 PM, Toronto Time (GMT-5)
60 min


By definition, the construction of a building creates a microclimate that is associated with the presence of the building itself. This seminar describes strategies and processes for designing and harnessing the microclimate around buildings with the objective of harnessing the microclimate to maximising the perception of acceptable thermal comfort experienced by pedestrians and residents and increasing the viability of natural ventilation within the building units. Although the microclimate often is defined as simply the wind, this undersells the potential of the building as the microclimate involves odour, wind, noise, glare, shade, temperature and other aspects of climate. In the development of a masterplan, the combination of buildings can create a larger microclimate which affects the local wind, solar and other climate parameters including the heat island. Given that the process of design involves a series of decisions, a design team can choose to design the microclimate, too. Its decisions can lead to increased natural ventilation and thermal comfort, or reductions in the viability of both. This presentation discusses the tools and means for providing both natural ventilation and thermal comfort, as well as addressing other microclimate features such as rain penetration, solar impacts (e.g., glare), noise and odour. The presentation will discuss manipulation of a microclimate for a variety of parameters focussing on overall comfort, primarily wind and thermal, for masterplans in a variety of regions. We also will address how to describe the interaction between the climates outside and inside of the building.

Learning Objectives:

  1. To understand the different options by which one describes and quantifies wind and thermal comfort – the different indices, the variables within them, the benefits and drawbacks of each – focussing on the thermal aspects of outdoor comfort.
  2. To understand the methods for and limitations of modelling and predicting thermal comfort parameters (e.g., wind, temperature, mean radiant temperature) within the urban environment so that spaces can be rated, including the impact of local heat island.
  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 around the world, using real examples from different climates, to learn what works and what doesn't.

Affiliated Associations

  • AIA