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The Development of Climate Analysis

Learn more about the key parameters of climate analysis.
Climatic analysis using a physical model
© Photo by David Chapman

In this article, you will learn more about climate analysis parameters.

Working with the local context and climate is a fundamental part of creating successful buildings and places. Traditionally, local knowledge of the climate and landscape was used to decide where best it would be to build streets, public spaces, and buildings. In hot countries, much emphasis would be placed on mitigating the effects of hot weather, whilst in cold climates emphasis would be placed on maximizing solar access, minimizing wind, etc.

Climate Analysis Parameters

Today there are two main ways of undertaking climate analysis. The first is to use physical models, made out of a range of materials including cards or timber, and ‘physically’ simulating conditions of sun, wind, and sun. Here a real lighting rig can be used to replicate the sun height and angle in relation to the model and the solar access and shading can be seen and documented.

Alternatively, computer models can be used to simulate these environmental conditions. Here it is important to understand that we draw or model buildings or urban environments in CAD (as discussed last week) and then run the analysis of these models in other software packages or plug-ins. This, in turn, gives a result that we can interpret. This is important because once we have set the model and parameters in the analytical software, the computer ‘runs’ the analysis for us. If we are not happy with the result, we need to alter the model or parameters.

As we are simulating the wind of a place, the parameters we usually are concerned with are:

  • Geographical location.
  • Prevailing winds at different times of the year.

Wind simulations provide a visual image of how the wind will circulate at pedestrian level and help illustrate:

  • Pedestrian wind comfort.
  • Pedestrian safety.
  • Annual, seasonal, and worst case scenarios.
  • Wind events (ground winds & wind tunnels).
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