Stata Center

Figure 5a shows a model of the Stata Center and its surroundings designed by Frank O. Gehry and Associates. Since this campus building has windy surroundings, the architect was concerned about the outdoor thermal comfort in the plaza (the front part of Figure 5a). At one time, the architect wanted to add a glass roof that would provide a wind shield over the plaza. Since the glazed roof would cost several million dollars, the architect initiated a study of the wind distribution around the Stata Center, which was researched by the author.

This investigation used a commercial CFD program (CHAM 2000) for the study. The CFD program allows one to read data from an AutoCAD file. This feature is very important because of the complicated geometry of the buildings. Similar to a wind tunnel, CFD requires detailed information on the surroundings of the Stata Center in order to calculate the airflow. The surrounding buildings can either block or enhance the wind speed around the center. The computational domain for the building and surroundings is shown in Figure 5b. The domain length is about five times that of Stata Center in the four horizontal directions (or 100 times the Stata Center area size). The wind distributions around Stata Center were calculated for the north, east, south, and west wind directions with a typical wind speed for each direction. Figure 6 shows the wind distribution around Stata Center with an east wind. This study used about one million grid points; the study required three days of computing time on a Pentium II 450 PC with 512 MB of memory. That PC was considered to be high-end in 1999. Obviously, the grid number was too coarse so the wind information was not sufficiently detailed.

Therefore, the investigation used a zoom-in approach to study the details of the wind distribution. The zoomin approach used the wind information computed (Figure 6) as boundary conditions in calculating the wind speed distribution just around Stata Center, as shown in Figure 7. With the zoom-in approach, the CFD results provided very detailed wind speed information. For example, the wind speed was found to be almost identical around Stata Center with or without the glass roof. Hence, the glass roof was not necessary.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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