The mathematical modelling of the environmental performance of buildings as an aid in the design process

  • R.H. Byrd

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is a theoretical study of the accuracy and usability of models that attempt to represent the environmental control system of buildings in order to improve environmental design.
These models have evolved from crude representations of a building and its environment through to an accurate representation of the dynamic characteristics of the environmental stimuli on buildings. Each generation of models has had its own particular influence on built form.
This thesis analyses the theory, structure and data of such models in terms of their accuracy of simulation and therefore their validity in influencing built form. The models are also analysed in terms of their compatability with the design process and hence their ability to aid designers.
The conclusions are that such models are unlikely to improve
environmental performance since:

a the models can only be applied to a limited number of
building types,
b they can only be applied to a restricted number of the
characteristics of a design,
c they can only be employed after many major environmental
decisions have been made,
d the data used in models is inadequate and unrepresentative,
e models do not account for occupant interaction in
environmental control.
It is argued that further improvements in the accuracy of simulation of environmental control will not significantly improve environmental design. This is based on the premise that strategic environmental decisions are made at the conceptual stages of design whereas models influence the detailed stages of design.
It is hypothesised that if models are to improve environmental design it must be through the analysis of building typologies which provides a method of feedback between models and the
conceptual stages of design. Field studies are presented to describe a method by which typologies can be analysed and a theoretical framework is described which provides a basis for further research into the implications of the morphology of
buildings on environmental design.
Date of AwardApr 1981
Original languageEnglish


  • mathematical modelling
  • environmental performance of buildings
  • design process

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