Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Predicting outdoor thermal comfort in urban areas

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posted on 2021-11-15, 15:07 authored by Toner, Victoria Jo Louise

Outdoor thermal comfort is key to creating vibrant outdoor urban spaces. The built form is able to modify solar radiation and wind. However, there is currently no way of considering the effect of the built form on thermal comfort when designing a new development based on the environmental factors – wind, solar radiation, and ambient temperature. Current practice for designing outdoor thermal comfort is based on simple design guidelines, and knowledge of local wind and sun patterns.  A Process for Predicting Outdoor Thermal Comfort has been developed. This predicts thermal comfort based on solar radiation, wind, and ambient temperature using The Wellington Comfort Index. The process is able to predict comfort at a single point within a proposed urban development using specialised computer programs. Through predicting how the combination of solar radiation, wind, and ambient temperature will affect comfort, improvements can be made to comfort during the design phase.  The aim of this thesis project is to develop the Process for Predicting Outdoor Thermal Comfort into a Comfort Tool for use at the preliminary design stage of a development. The intended users of the tool are professionals working in urban planning and architecture, such as designers and consultants who have experience with three-dimensional modelling and simulation programs.  A case study research approach was used to test The Comfort Tool’s ability to inform design changes through communicating thermal comfort across a proposed development. A range of case studies were selected with different built forms. This was to test if The Comfort Tool can predict comfort in case studies with different levels of solar radiation and wind at pedestrian level due to the variations in the built forms.  This research confirmed that a tool can be developed for predicting comfort across a proposed development, which can also test proposed design changes for their success during the design phase. However, further investigation is needed to determine whether The Wellington Comfort Index can be used in other cities.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Building Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Building Science

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970112 Expanding Knowledge in Built Environment and Design

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Architecture


Dunn, Michael