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Urban planning research actions to improve solar access, passive cooling and microclimate



The main objective is to produce comprehensive design guidance on urban layout to ensure good access to solar gain, daylighting and passive cooling. The aim is to enable designers to produce comfortable, energy efficient buildings surrounded by pleasant outdoor spaces, within an urban context that itself aims to minimise energy consumption and the effects of pollution.

Technical Approach

The research phase will comprise a comprehensive integrated study of all solar and microclimate aspects of urban layout.

In northern latitudes site layout is of particular importance, to avoid obstruction and overshadowing. Studies for winter solar heat gain and good daylighting will be carried out, including in existing buildings next to a new development.

In southern European latitudes, shading and passive cooling become critical. Research to improve summer thermal comfort conditions will focus on solar protection of buildings and pedestrians, reduction of outdoor air temperature and wind enhancement. Monitoring of a range of sites in Athens will provide microclimatic data. Techniques like trees in urban design and passive cooling using fountains and sprayers will be considered. Wind tunnel studies of the dispersion of local pollutants to allow natural ventilation of buildings and improvement of the outdoor environment will be included.

Design tool development will concentrate on extending the sophisticated TOWNSCOPE software to produce an integrated tool to model sunshine, wind and daylight in urban areas. Simple manual tools to evaluate loss of daylight, sunlight and solar gain due to obstructions will also be developed.

The research will be backed by a series of case studies of urban areas, including two extended studies of Mediterranean sites. These are a new housing project in northern Greece and a historic area under renovation in Seville. Further short case studies, both real and theoretical, will investigate different design issues in different parts of Europe.
Expected Achievements and Exploitation

The major output of the research will be a design guide, to include guidance on all the issues addressed. This will be supplemented by the following:
UNIX and PC versions of TOWNSCOPE software with user manual
Book of indicators for manual prediction of solar access
Fully illustrated case study document
In addition, the team will develop shorter summary papers targeted at designers, urban planners and surveyors. Throughout, the aim will be to produce attractive, fully illustrated guidance, incorporating case study examples.

Call for proposal

Data not available


Building Research Establishment (BRE)
EU contribution
No data
Bucknall's Lane Garston
WD2 7JR Watford
United Kingdom

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Total cost
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Participants (3)