09 Nov Sustainable Architecture and CFD Simulations
Buildings’ energy‐environmental performances are a central topic in modern architecture. These aspects are strictly related to urban forms, highlighting the need to focus on a larger field of intervention in urban design. The idea of sustainable city, involving different interrelated disciplines, increases design complexity. In this context, environmental analyses are gaining more and more importance and their reintegration into the very early stages of urban design appears to be a must. This strong link has always been there during the historical evolution of the city, evidence of the relationship between urban form and local micro-climate.
A modern approach to Urban Master Plans
A modern methodology for Urban Master Plans involves the integration of both environmental data and analyses starting from the design’s initial phases. The typical cycle is represented in the picture on the right. The central role is played by simulation software that acts as “feedback” tool, able to qualitatively /quantitatively verify the environmental behavior depending on the project’s concept. In particular, environmental analyses are typically focused on the micro-climatic consequences of urban forms. They take into consideration different climatic data (air temperature, relative humidity, wind directions and velocities, hours of sunlight and direct solar radiation) and form parameters (geometry, sky view factor) and evaluate environmental critical issues, taking into account man’s thermal comfort in open spaces. Analyses are carried out in different environmental conditions during the year, with a minimum of two extrema configurations corresponding to winter and summer solstices. The initial urban proposal is gradually modified and re‐evaluated several times in relation to the main critical issues that emerge from analyses’ results. The output of this design process is a set of topological and morphological rules, having the task of explaining clearly to designers the spatial relationships among parts, guiding their successive work on buildings configuration.
A direct application of this approach is documented in this article: The Environmental Dimension of Urban Design: A Point of View available for download.
Simulation software: a matter of accuracy and complexity
Given the central role it plays, it is clear how important is software accuracy and its results reliability. On the other hand, it cannot be too complex to be used in such a new context by (mainly) novice users. Unluckily these requirements pull in opposite directions and an adequate trade-off is the most viable option.
A common choice is the couple Heliodon and ENVI‐met which takes into account the effect of wind, solar radiation, humidity and vegetation. Despite the number of factors and inputs asked to the user, their complexity is relatively limited and they are not so computationally expensive. As a drawback, in order to simplify the simulation to such an extent, a great amount of models needs to be used to represent the physics. And this is the reason why their accuracy cannot reach the same level of complete, state of the art, simulation software.
If one wants to obtain more meaningful results and better predictions, there is no other way than Computational Fluid Dynamic simulations. Validated codes guarantee the user maximum levels of results accuracy. Of course CFD is a rather complex matter and commercial software is not so straightforward as those presented before, but some innovative products are entering the market, lowering the know-how barrier for novice users who wants to start using professional tools.
“Simulating environmental effects on urban micro-climate with CONSELF has been really intuitive and straightforward. Finally I am able to see those small scale effects I was looking for.”
A step by step video tutorial about wind simulations over buildings with CONSELF
With CONSELF all major barriers that would stop novice users are no more there. The Software-as-a-Service approach allows to minimize costs and investments, no more licenses are in fact needed and one can only pay for the time he effectively uses the platform. In addition, leveraging the Cloud Computing the software can be used directly through a common browser with a standard laptop or even a tablet.
It is based on most advanced CFD software libraries, guaranteeing accuracy and reliability. Dedicated applications and online support allow even non expert users to obtain meaningful results after a small amount of training and experiments.
CFD – How to simulate the action of wind on buildings
The tutorial video on the right shows how to setup a CFD simulation with CONSELF to investigate the action of wind over buildings. You can try the platform, just sign up for CONSELF WELCOME plan, it is 100% free, for ever!
Many more tutorials are available on our webinars page, they allow every user to start from scratch and learn very quickly.
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CFD & FEM simulation software is a very powerful tool, with its adoption optimization and innovation can be achieved in every field. To make this instrument accessible to everyone means lowering costs, but mainly to develop an infrastructure that favours a super-easy adoption by market new entrants.
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