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Thermal house

Research Project

Policy Guidelines for Increasing Outdoor Thermal Comfort in Toronto: An Analysis of the Urban Microclimate

P.I. Dr. Umberto Berardi
Assistant Professor of Building Science
Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science
Ryerson University

Over the past few decades, making outdoor spaces attractive and, ultimately, used by people, has become a key goal in urban planning and design. The design of outdoor spaces strongly affect the urban microclimate, which is an important contributor to pedestrians’ health, urban air quality, energy consumption of buildings, and overall urban sustainability. The increasing effort toward liveable cities is often focused on evaluating environmental quality or resource use. However, limited attention has been dedicated to the outdoor thermal comfort in every street or to understand how the urban microclimate changes as the city transforms. For example, we have limited knowledge about the wind stack effect in Toronto that is produced by the construction of any new high-rise building or how this affects solar access and thermal comfort in adjacent streets.

This research will investigate the urban microclimate of four neighbourhoods in Toronto, which differ in orientation, height of the buildings, presence of vegetation, and other urban design characteristics. A comparison between the different urban areas will be carried out through the measurement of several outdoor microclimate parameters. Moreover, the project will investigate the effect of different urban design options using simulations generated through the software ENVI-met. During the measurement phase, the research project will also collect thermal comfort surveys, including climatic and behavioural questionnaires, in order to understand the pedestrians’ evaluation of the thermal urban comfort. The project will hence assess different urban heat island mitigation strategies relevant to outdoor thermal comfort in Toronto. Finally, urban design guidelines aimed at creating a more comfortable urban environment will be suggested. Hopefully, the present project will help urban planners and city developers to define urban policies that increase the outdoor thermal comfort in Toronto and create a more sustainable urban environment.