Our team’s main research objective focuses on enhancing performance of new and existing civil infrastructure (such as buildings, green and energy infrastructure) for wind and other climate stressors. Our team is actively working on modeling of (i) extreme wind effects (e.g. hurricane and tornado) on buildings and neighborhoods and other wind sensitive structures, (ii) interplay between aerodynamics and other micro-climate stressors for climate responsive (sustainable) building design (e.g. aerodynamic effects on thermal and energy performance of buildings, wind performance of mass timber buildings etc.), and (iii) wind-driven-ventilation/rain/snow and wind-borne debris studies). Our research utilize a combination of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) based modeling and simulations (and more recently assisted with Artificial Intelligence) in a high-performance computing environment at Sharcnet, and physical experiments at the WindEEE Dome (large scale) and the Boundary Layer Wind Tunnel Laboratory (BLWTL-model scale).
The team leader Dr. Bitsuamlak serves as the Site-leader for SHARCNET computing center, and the Research Director both for the WindEEE Research Institute that houses the WindEEE Dome, and the historical boundary layer wind tunnel laboratory (BLWTL) at Western. He is a Fellow of CSCE and recipient of NSF Career, Ontario Early Researcher and Canadian Research Chair awards.
Keywords: Wind load, hurricane, tornado, building science, CFD, wind tunnel, AI, aerodynamics, energy and thermal performance, architectural engineering, computational wind engineering, wind engineering, LES.
Computational Wind Engineering (CWE)
CWE is becoming relevant with advances in software and hardware technology. Various CFD workflows in high performance computing environment are developed that enabled numerical evaluation of peak pressure coefficients Cp for generating wind loads on high- and low-rise buildings; tornadic, downburst and hurricane induced load evaluations; natural ventilation and other building science applications; pedestrian level wind assessment, complex topography effect on wind (speed-up); aerodynamic optimization of tall buildings and long span bridge sections; exposure assessments; community level wind (and other climate stressors) effect assessment.
Experimental Wind Engineering
This includes boundary layer wind tunnel based wind load evaluations for design of tall buildings, long span roofs, long span bridge, solar panels/trackers, cladding and components etc. either through aerodynamic and aeroelastic test methods. Also, evaluation of tornadic and downburst loads on essential structures and large scale wind experiments for hurricane by using WindEEE Dome facility. Performance based wind engineering. Bench mark experimetnal aerodyamic data generation for valdiating the computational models.
Building Science and Aerodynamics
Our team is developing climate responsive architectural engineering design and retrofit methods where we model the interplay between aerodynamics (effect of architectural forms and details on wind pressure) and other micro-climate stressors (e.g. thermal load). This is enabling us to rationally assess impact of architectural forms, details and aerodynamics on the thermal and energy performance of buildings, envelops, fenestration, etc. We also look at the effect surroundings through neighborhood scale modeling and simulations.
Design of Mass Timber Buildings for Wind
Studying the performance of low-, mid-, and high-rise engineered timber buildings under synoptic, and non-synoptic wind systems. Developing performance based wind engineering methods. Dynamic characterization of tall mass timber buildings.
AI Assisted Design and Analysis
Developing AI assisted wind and climate analysis and design of buildings and neighborhoods. AI based methods are being developed for building energy monitoring, for use as surrogate modes for aerodynamic and energy performace optimizations, and feature extraction from LIDAR and other remotely sensed data useful for micro-climate modeling.
BIM for Climate Responsive Design
Developing workflows for various BIM models at various level of development (LOD) for use in CWE and Building Science applications, and for enabling digital Twin models for built-environment where the concepts of resilient and climate responsive architectural engineering can be implemented following an integrated design philosophy.