Impacts of the morphology of new neighborhoods on microclimate and building energy

Melissa R. Allen-Dumas, Amy N. Rose, Joshua R. New, Olufemi A. Omitaomu, Jiangye Yuan, Marcia L. Branstetter, Linda M. Sylvester, Matthew B. Seals, Thomaz M. Carvalhaes, Mark B. Adams, Mahabir S. Bhandari, Som S. Shrestha, Jibonananda Sanyal, Anne S. Berres, Carl P. Kolosna, Katherine S. Fu, Alexandra C. Kahl


Abstract: In anticipation of emerging global urbanization and consequent increases in energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, better understanding and quantification of climate effects on energy use in cities are needed, requiring coordinated research into large-scale, regional, and microclimate impacts to and from the city structure. The methodology described here addresses this need by (1) demonstrating a process for creating and testing example morphologies for new neighborhoods for their impact on local and regional meteorology within a two-way-coupled four-domain nested mesoscale weather model (6 km horizontal resolution outer domain, 90 m horizontal innermost domain) and (2) allocating resulting building-level meteorological profiles to each building in a neighborhood for parallel computation of building-by-building energy use. Our Chicago Loop test case shows that the morphology of even a small new added development to a neighborhood affects not only its own microclimate, but also the microclimate of the original neighborhood to which the development was added, and that these changes in microclimate affect both neighborhoods’ building energy use. This method represents an important step toward quantifying and analyzing the relationships among climatic conditions, urban morphology, and energy use and using these relationships to inform energy-efficient urban development and planning.

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