Impact of urban morphology on building energy needs: a review on knowledge gained from modeling and monitoring activities

Urban morphology is one of the main parameters influencing directly and indirectly buildings’ energy needs. Despite an increasing number of urban energy and environmental modelling tools addressing these issues, the complexity of physical relationships at this level often constrain urban energy modelers to simplify the problems by considering only parts of the phenomena, thus leading to diverging findings and recommendations related to the relevance of urban morphology. A systematic review of published research works in the field of urban energy and environmental modelling is performed. This involves characterising the research approach, evaluating the physical effects taken into consideration in the models applied, the types of models applied, identifying whether the effect of urban morphology is isolated from other effects, whether the urban scene considered is real or theoretical and parametrised and recognising the performance indicators used for assessment. Last but not least, the type of result and the robustness of the ensuing recommendations in terms of sustainable urban design are critically evaluated according to clearly defined assessment criteria. The main findings related to the impact of urban morphology on energy needs in the built environment are summarised and put in relation to the physical effects taken into consideration, showing that there is no common basis allowing for a generalisation of the knowledge available. Beyond an attempt to cluster the different approaches, the authors conclude that there is a clear need to further develop more comprehensive tools, but also to propose a minimal set of requirements for computational modelling activities in the urban energy field.

Scartezzini, Jean-Louis
Published in:
Proceedings of CISBAT 2011 - CleanTech for Sustainable Buildings, 943-948
Presented at:
CISBAT 2011, Lausanne, September 14-16
Lausanne, EPFL

 Record created 2012-01-25, last modified 2018-01-28

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