SUSTAINABLE CITY BLOCKS : Urban Microclimate, Building Envelope and Program – Noah Czech, MArch Dissertation 2012
The current city block model in Denver, Colorado (U.S.A.) is unsustainable. Based on the environmental parameters of energy consumption, occupant comfort, urban vitality and adaptability, city blocks can become sustainable. Energy consumption levels are unique for each of the programs analyzed within the city block (retail, office and residential). The factors that create these differences are occupant density, schedule of use, and internal heat gains. Occupant comfort for city blocks pertains to each interior space as well as to outdoor pedestrian spaces. Modifying outdoor comfort for consistent summer shade and winter radiation was achieved by altering urban canyon geometries. To achieve this same level of control for interior spaces the building envelope was separated into its fundamental parts to improve both overall performance and occupant control. The interaction between pedestrian activity and program function is at the core of understanding vitality within the city block. Moving beyond typical vertical mixing, to more horizontal mixing, and then transitioning pedestrians gradually from outdoor temperatures to indoor temperatures, proved an effective method to control city block vitality. Setting up a grid system to organize each of these parameters improved control and the possibility for adaptation. Over time, all programmatic spaces change. Even occupant and pedestrian use patterns change. The grid allows for both planned and unplanned changes to be accommodated by the framework of the city block. The result of recombining specific environmental and urban parameters proved to create a successful, sustainable city block.