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59CE - Manipulating & Harnessing the Microclimate

09 May 2014 2:00 PM -5:30 PM

3 ConEd Learning hours

This session is also offered Friday, May 9, 214 8:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Course Outline

The purpose of this seminar will be to describe strategies and processes to design and harness the microclimate (e.g. wind, solar, rain, temperature, etc.) around buildings. The objective of harnessing the microclimate is to maximise the perception of acceptable thermal comfort experienced by pedestrians and residents and to increase the viability of natural ventilation within the building units. During the course of the presentation the tools, and means to score “success” for both natural ventilation and thermal comfort, will be discussed. Other microclimate features such as rain penetration, solar impacts (e.g. glare), noise and odour will also be addressed.

By definition, the construction of a building creates a microclimate that is associated with the presence of the building itself. In the development of a masterplan, the combination of buildings can create a larger microclimate which impacts the local wind, solar and other climate parameters including heat island. Given that the process of design involves a series of decisions, a design team can choose to design the microclimate too. The decisions can lead to increased natural ventilation and thermal comfort, or reductions in the viability of both. The microclimate is often defined as simply the wind. This undersells the potential of the building as the microclimate involves odour, wind, noise, glare, shade and other aspects of climate.

The presentation will discuss manipulation of a microclimate for a variety of parameters focussing on overall comfort (wind and thermal) for masterplans in a variety of regions. We will also address means to describe the interaction between the outside and inside of the building.

Learning Objective

  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 - focus will be on the thermal aspects of outdoor comfort.
  2. To understand the methods, and their limitations, to model and predict thermal comfort parameters (eg wind, temperature, mean radiant temperature) within the urban environment so that spaces can be scored. This will include local heat island impacts.
  3. To identify means to improve thermal comfort within the public realm using different massing, building adjacencies and topologies, etc. to manipulate wind and shade and how one can scoring described in 1) and 2) to evaluate solutions.
  4. To diagnose different examples from around the world - what works and what doesn't - using real examples in different climates.


Goncalo Pedro, has a PhD in mechanical engineering in computational fluid dynamics from the University of Victoria. At RWDI, he provides specialist expertise in microclimate analysis with a focus on master planning, sustainability and ventilation. Goncalo has worked on a variety of projects such as Beijing Central Business District Master plan. Mecca and the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy by helping to assess the potential for passive and active sustainability measures in challenging climates.

John Alberico is a Project Director specializing in air quality and microclimate assessments. He joined RWDI in 1988, and became a Principal in 2004.  He is a Canadian Certified Environmental Professional.

As a Project Director, he provides overall technical direction to engineering teams on air quality and microclimate projects ensuring that a high level of service is provided and RWDI’s interests are preserved on all projects.

John’s area of technical expertise is in exhaust and dust dispersion, and wind flow around buildings, which has included involvement in several hundred projects providing expert consultation, and conducting both numerical and wind tunnel modelling. His primary focus has been in the institutional, healthcare, higher education and pharmaceutical sectors.  His involvement in many of these projects has included environmental impact assessments and Certificates of Approval in Ontario.

John has also managed engineering teams that have provided air quality, odour, dust, ventilation, noise, acoustic and vibration assessments for a broad range of applications on local, national and international projects. These have included pits and quarries, landfills, composting facilities, roadways, residential developments, and industrial facilities in addition to healthcare, higher education and pharmaceutical facilities.