Urban microclimate modelling with SPACERGY
“Developing a climate model is challenging, time-consuming and the data often requires a large amount of storage space. By publishing our data in 4TU.ResearchData we have ensured secure and long-term preservation of our datasets without concerns about storage,” says Daniela Maiullari.
Daniela Maiullari is a PhD student in the Department of Urbanism in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment at Delft University of Technology. By focusing on the relationship between urban form, urban microclimate, and the energy demand of buildings, her doctoral research addresses the transition towards low-carbon cities in future climate warming scenarios, and the increased need for space cooling.
In collaboration with multidisciplinary personnel from the University of Zurich and the University of Bergen, Daniela has modelled the energy and the microclimate performance of the new urban district of Floriade, being constructed in the city of Almere in the Netherlands. The new district will be showcased at Floriade 2022, the world’s largest horticultural expo that will take place next year from 14 April to 22 October.
Growing a Green City
In line with the expo theme, ‘Growing Green Cities’, the master plan designed by MVRDV comprises all new buildings, including pavilions for the agricultural expo, hotels and an extensive green structure (arboretum).
Following the expo, the development will be transformed into a residential area with more than 600 homes and will become Almere’s new city district named ‘Hortus’.
After a year of construction, the new district promises the most urban and green Floriade to date, but will it be energy efficient? To what extent will the large presence of vegetation help to reduce urban heat and energy for the cooling of buildings?
Creating SPACE for Citizen Science
Daniela is involved in ‘SPACERGY: Space-Energy Patterns for Smart Energy Infrastructures, Community Reciprocities and Related Governance’. The project takes a community-centric, living lab approach to investigate the energy transition of urban developments by bringing together various different stakeholders to achieve inclusion, collaboration and informed action.
“Researchers, designers, planners, architects, project managers, policy makers, and the municipality of Almere were invited to a series of workshops to evaluate the master plan”, says Daniela.
“During the workshops, we explored different scenarios concerning the spatial, energy and mobility infrastructure of the new district. By using modelling techniques we simulated the microclimate and energy profile of the design solutions .”
Microclimate modelling with Envi-met
In addition to living labs with stakeholders, the aim of SPACERGY was to provide guidelines to support informed decision making about the new district of Almere.
This work required 3D city digital models to assess the energy demand and sustainability of the district, as well as the projected thermal comfort and urban microclimate as temperatures are higher in urban environments due to Urban Heat Island .
The 3D digital models using CityGML standard (Geography Markup Language), were coupled with ENVI-met, which is a microclimatic simulation software. The models’ inputs are spatial data of the district provided by the City of Almere’s Urban Design Department and climate data from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) weather station in Lelystad.
FAIR Data Refinement
Daniela made her SPACERGY datasets available in 4TU.ResearchData with the help of last year’s Data Refinement Fund. Daniela published the spatial input data; the ENVI-met simulation model of the district; the 3D City Model encoded in CityGML; and, the results of microclimate simulations in binary format (Part 1) or in an image or map format (Part 2).
Daniela explains her motivations for publishing data in different formats.
“The aim of the data refinement was to improve the interoperability of the datasets and enable their reuse by different stakeholders. The data had to be published in a format that was easy to understand, interpret and reproduce by various end-users. For example, 3D city models and binary data are useful to researchers interested in environmental and climate modelling, whereas images and maps are useful to designers, architects and municipalities.”
She adds, “We used the ENVI-met software to transform binary data into maps to convey information about the relevant climate parameters, including air temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and wind direction.”
“In order to make the data as reproducible as possible, we documented each dataset with descriptive metadata. This included the provision of an attribute table which is a tabular file containing information about the geographic features and climate parameters.”
Daniela states that making the data available online was important for several reasons.
“Firstly, SPACERGY is a public project and stakeholders require access to the data. We are obligated to support the longitudinal development of the master plan, and facilitate the continuation of the construction of the new district of Almere.”
“Secondly, it is our duty to make the data available to advance this project and allow the verification of the work once the new district is built and becomes residential in the future. It will be important to model the microclimate of the district in years to come and confirm our findings through measurement campaigns.”
“Thirdly, developing a climate model is challenging, time-consuming and the data often requires a large amount of storage space. By publishing our data in the 4TU.ResearchData repository we have ensured secure and long-term preservation of our datasets without concerns about storage.”
“Finally, our datasets are valuable for educational purposes. The 3D digital models and ENVI-met models can be reused and adapted by students to help them learn, and serve as a ‘proof-of-concept’ for modelling the microclimate of other urban areas.”
Thank you, Daniela, for sharing the story behind SPACERGY. We wish you good luck with the completion of your PhD!
If you’re interested in learning more about 3D city models, read a related article from the Open Science Community Delft (OSCD) about The Changing Landscape of Open Geospatial data.
Written by Connie Clare (4TU.ResearchData)
Cover image by Ricarda Mölck from Pixabay