Numerical Model Inter-comparison for Wind Flow and Turbulence Around Single-Block Buildings

Sotiris Vardoulakis*, Reneta Dimitrova, Kate Richards, David Hamlyn, Giorgio Camilleri, Mark Weeks, Jean François Sini, Rex Britter, Carlos Borrego, Michael Schatzmann, Nicolas Moussiopoulos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Wind flow and turbulence within the urban canopy layer can influence the heating and ventilation of buildings, affecting the health and comfort of pedestrians, commuters and building occupants. In addition, the predictive capability of pollutant dispersion models is heavily dependent on wind flow models. For that reason, well-validated microscale models are needed for the simulation of wind fields within built-up urban microenvironments. To address this need, an inter-comparison study of several such models was carried out within the European research network ATREUS. This work was conducted as part of an evaluation study for microscale numerical models, so they could be further implemented to provide reliable wind fields for building energy simulation and pollutant dispersion codes. Four computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models (CHENSI, MIMO, VADIS and FLUENT) were applied to reduced-scale single-block buildings, for which quality-assured and fully documented experimental data were obtained. Simulated wind and turbulence fields around two surface-mounted cubes of different dimensions and wall roughness were compared against experimental data produced in the wind tunnels of the Meteorological Institute of Hamburg University under different inflow and boundary conditions. The models reproduced reasonably well the general flow patterns around the single-block buildings, although over-predictions of the turbulent kinetic energy were observed near stagnation points in the upwind impingement region. Certain discrepancies between the CFD models were also identified and interpreted. Finally, some general recommendations for CFD model evaluation and use in environmental applications are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-181
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Modeling and Assessment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This study was carried out within the frame-work of the ATREUS research network operated under the European Commission Training and Mobility of Researchers Programme (Project Reference: HPRN-CT-2002-00207). We would like to thank all researchers within ATREUS for their support and collaboration. Complete computer support was given to the French team (ECN) by the Scientific Council of Institut de Développement et de Recherche pour l’Informatique Scientifique (IDRIS), Orsay, France. Dr Rex Britter acknowledges the support of the Singapore National Research Foundation through the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Center for Environmental Sensing and Modeling (CENSAM).

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Building microclimate
  • CFD
  • Model evaluation
  • Pollutant dispersion
  • Turbulent kinetic energy
  • Wind flow


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