International Studies

Interaction of Buildings and the Urban Environment
Principal investigator: Les Norford
Sponsors: Singapore National Research Foundation

Building energy use is often modeled with no regard for the urban location of most buildings. Weather data typically come from airport meteorological stations where temperatures and wind speeds differ from those in urban canyons. To improve estimates of building energy use, the U.S. DOE EnergyPlus building energy model is being coupled to an urban surface energy balance from the French National Center for Meteorological Research. This coupled approach captures the influence of heat flows from buildings on street-canyon temperatures and the reciprocal influence of these temperatures on the heat flows and energy use of space conditioning equipment. Results show the significant contribution to the urban heat island effect from space cooling waste heat. A complementary study focuses on predicting street-level airflows and turbulent exchange between street canyons and the portion of the surface layer above the canyons. The work will be applied to investigations of the impact of increased urban development on the urban environment. Much of the effort in focused in Singapore, as part of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) (see and