Simulation pathway for estimating heat island influence on urban/suburban building space-conditioning loads and response to facade material changes

Kanchane Gunawardena, Tristan Kershaw, K Steemers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Environmental thermal loading on urban buildings is expected to increase owing to the combined influence of a warming climate, increasing frequency and severity of extreme heat events, and the urban heat island (UHI) effect. This paper presents how a computationally efficient estimation pathway could be utilised to understand UHI influence on building energy simulations. As an example, this is examined by considering UHI influence on the space-conditioning loads of office buildings within urban and suburban conditions, and how the trend of replacing heavyweight facades with lightweight alternatives could affect their surrounding microclimates, as well as building energy use. The paper addresses this through simulations of street canyons based on the urban Moorgate and suburban Wimbledon areas of London. Results show that with all scenarios including the UHI within a dynamic thermal simulation presents between 2.5 to 9.6 % net increase in annual space-conditioning. The study also demonstrates that the trend in urban centres to replace heavyweight facades with lightweight insulated alternatives increases space-conditioning loads, which in turn increases UHI intensity to create a warming feedback loop. The study therefore stresses the significance of including microclimate loading from the UHI in estimating urban and suburban energy use, and the combined simulation approach is presented as a computationally efficient pathway for use by built environment designers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-205
JournalBuilding and Environment
Early online date10 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Facade materials
  • Heat island effect
  • Space-conditioning loads
  • Suburban energy use
  • Urban energy use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction

Cite this