Girma Bitsuamlak

Western University 
Project Title: Modeling of urban wind flow and its interaction with buildings and their components
Industry Partner: Klimaat Consulting & InnovationStephenson EngineeringWasau Tile Inc.
Project Title: High performance computing for assessing and mitigating the effect of extreme wind on building and cities
Industry Partner: Stephenson Engineering
Platform: Blue Gene/Q

Digital Media Cities

Modeling of urban wind flow and its interaction with buildings and their components

The design challenge is that as city populations rapidly increase, urban densification through vertical design will demand highly efficient, optimized and safe built environments to suit a changing climate. Therefore building and urban designers in the Architecture and Engineering (A&E) industry can benefit greatly from having access to robust, accurate, fast and cost effective wind modelling processes to assist in building and urban design performance simulation. However, urban wind flows are highly complex due to the time and spatial characteristics of the wind, its turbulence characteristics, and its interaction with the urban environment. Computational wind simulations therefore require very advanced modelling processes and demand enormous computational resources to replicate this phenomena. A validated and trusted computational wind simulation process, developed through this partnership, will offer new ways through which design practitioners can improve design, make buildings safer, more efficient and reduce building construction costs and materials through concept optimization. This research collaboration will allow the Ontario business and research community to continue to play its global and leading role in the application and export of its resources and expertise in physical testing and computational wind engineering.

High performance computing for assessing and mitigating the effect of extreme wind on building and cities

As the second largest country in the world, Canada’s diverse geography and climate increases our cities exposure to different types of natural hazards, such as snow storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. The insurance industry estimates that insured catastrophic losses in North America average $80B per year. In Toronto (2005), for example. a single tornado event resulted in $500M loss. This is further compounded by changes in climate, population growth and aging infrastructure. To maintain the prosperity of our communities, it is imperative that a comprehensive framework be developed to assess and mitigate the impacts of extreme climate on cities. The current project aims to develop a multi-scale climate responsive design framework that accounts for the complex interaction between buildings and wind (including hurricane and tornado). This computational framework, at neighborhood scale, models urban micro-climate necessary to assess the impact of changing city topology on the pedestrian level wind, air quality and to generate boundary conditions for small-scale simulations. At building scale, it develops a full numerical aeroealstic model (e.g. building model that flex) immersed in turbulent city flows, for the first time. This frame work when integrated with artificial intelligence based optimization procedures, allow optimizing tall building aerodynamics (shape) and dynamics (structural systems) appropriate for current era of booming tall building construction. As a result, Ontario will save materials and energy in one of the most resource intensive sector, while enhancing the safety of Ontarians during extreme climate. For successful implementation of the framework, a high performance computing environment and experimental validations are necessary, which will be enabled by two unique research facilities in Ontario, Blue Gene/Q and WindEEE Dome, respectively.