4.432 / 4.433
Modeling Urban Energy Flows for Resilient Cities and Neighborhoods

Permission of instructor

U: 4.432; G: 4.433

In response to global environmental challenges, city governments world-wide have developed ambitious long-term GHG emission targets, heavily focused on reducing and managing building energy demands. While energy use is a key factor in producing a sustainable and resilient built environment, it is just one aspect of many that need to be addressed in a holistic approach to urban design and planning. Neighborhoods also need to offer healthy and comfortable indoor and outdoor spaces, and support diverse means of transportation. This becomes especially relevant during catastrophic energy system failures, when access to electricity, heating or cooling might not be available. How can architects, urban designers and planners account for these diverse issues in their urban projects?

The primary objective of this class is the study and simulation of energy and material flows in and around groups of buildings for a specific climate, and their impact on key environmental performance indicators such as building energy use, access to daylight, indoor and outdoor thermal comfort, and resilience. In particular, students will learn how to quantify the impact of future climates and local microclimatic effects such as shading from neighboring buildings, localized wind patterns, and the urban heat island effect (UHI) on these environmental indicators. The course will provide tools to explore how decisions regarding urban form, density and use will affect these performance metrics, particularly useful for students interested in design, planning and policy.

The course is designed with a “hands on” approach, focused on metrics and tools. Throughout the term, students will work in groups of 3 or 4 and develop a neighborhood design proposal. Project examples from previous years can be found at the MIT Sustainable Design Lab website. This year students two sites will be used as case studies, located in Cambridge (MA) and San Juan (PR).

The class is open to all members of the MIT community. While not strictly required, previous exposure to building technology (through classes such as 4.401/4.464 and 4.424J/2.52J), design and/or urban planning will become assets, since we will be working at the interface of these three fields.

Additional work required of students taking the graduate version.