Entry Date:
July 23, 2015

Simulating Air and Pollutant Flows in Urban Neighborhoods to Estimate Constraints of Air Quality on Natural Ventilation

India’s rapid pace of urbanization is projected to increase its total floor area to 400% by 2050, and buildings currently account for 35% of India’s total energy consumption (this contribution is growing 8% year-on-year).

It is imperative, then, for buildings in India to become more energy efficient. One way to do so is to mix air conditioning with natural ventilation strategies to provide thermal comfort. This in turn creates a complex set of challenges. Natural ventilation is highly dependent on the effect of the air flows in the neighborhood and the effect of air exchange on indoor air quality. At the same time, this affects pollutant transport, which needs to be well understood so as to keep indoor air quality within acceptable standards for human health.

The proposed research will make use of computational fluid dynamics approaches and nodal pollutant transport models to estimate the relationship between air pollution and natural ventilation and assess any constraints on the latter due to the former. The modelling approach will build on prior work conducted at the Building Technologies group to simulate air flows in specific, and representative projects to calculate wind pressure coefficients on various facades and the transport of pollutants.

These results will then be fed into a nodal model (such as CONTAM and other application packages widely used for building performance simulations) to validate and translate the results into accessible guides. There may be an experimental component conducted by partners, or data arising from civil and environmental engineering research groups in India that will be used to validate these results.

The results would be used to develop tools and guides for architects, planners and designers to design neighborhoods that better accommodate natural ventilation into energy efficiency measures. The broader results can then be used by policymakers to suggest improvements in air quality measures (such as the use of filters, natural vegetation barriers, the regulation of proximity of transport infrastructure to buildings, changes in transportation modalities etc.) for similar neighborhoods and projects. This work may segue with many recent energy efficiency measures being promoted by Indian regulatory agencies and legislative acts.