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24 FEB 2022 (THU) 16:00-17:30

Updated: May 19, 2022

HKU-USF Distinguished Professor Webinar Series

Under the leadership of Vice-President (Academic Development) Professor Peng Gong, The University of Hong Kong will launch the Distinguished Professor Webinar Series organized by the Urban System Forum (HKU-USF). The HKU-USF Distinguished Professor Webinar Series will feature presentations to be delivered by outstanding urban scientists and theorists around the globe. It aims to inspire cross-disciplinary research and nurture future leaders in urban systems research at different scales and from various perspectives. Please note that the second event of HKU-USF Distinguished Professor Webinar Series will be held via Zoom on 24 February, 2022 (Thursday), 16:00 p.m HKT.

Date: 24 February 2022 (Thursday)

Time: 16:00 – 17:30 (HKT)

Zoom ID: 970 7705 0979 Please be ready 5 minutes prior to the scheduled time.



Creating Outdoor and semi-outdoor spaces with good comfort in high density cities by simulation-based design

Heatwaves exacerbated by the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect can make urban environments unbearable. US epidemiology studies indicated that there was a correlation between high temperature and morbidity and mortality. In Hong Kong, high-temperature events have significant impacts on the mortality risk and hospitalization rate. People in dense urban environments tend to stay indoors longer, become more sedentary and consume more energy to run air-conditioners. Studies in Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics show that outdoor playtime is associated with children's body mass index scores and obesity. It is believed that systematically designed 'open streets' programs could develop into heat resilience hubs like an oasis in a desert, enabling the urbanites to reclaim the outdoor. The importance of such projects cannot be overstated considering rapid global urbanization while the planet faces irreversible climate change.

In this presentation Prof. Niu will speak of the research outcome of a successful RGC Collaborative Research Fund project, which demonstrated that outdoor localised comfort hubs (LoCH) exist in a town center even in a high-density urban environment like Hong Kong with a hot, humid summer, and that, in particular, the semi-outdoor space created by lift-up building design was favorable for thermal comfort due to the combined effects of shading and induced wind downwash. While we cannot change the climate of a whole city, we can create LoCHs to pervade all neighborhoods in proportion to their scales to raise thermal comfort. By employing a scientific microclimate design methodology based on advanced modelling and simulation of wind, heat, and moisture at the early building design and planning stage, thermal and wind comfort can be maximized and thermal stress risk can be minimized, via an optimized combination of building forms and their relative locations in a precinct with assisting vegetation, water, surface materials, and ad hoc pavilions and other mechanical means, and the same idea can also be applied to infill redevelopment projects and other property development to create LoCHs in an existing neighborhood. Prof Niu will also speak of the potential impacts to the architectural design and planning practice to improve contemporary and future urban liveability and sustainability, and to cope with a rapidly changing climate.


Professor Niu Jianlei

Chair Professor of Building, Environment and Energy, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Professor Niu is currently Chair Professor of Building, Environment and Energy, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. In the period from Feb 12, 2017 to Feb 9, 2019, he held a position of Professor of Building, Environment and Energy, a conjoint appointment of School of Architecture, Design and Planning and School of Civil Engineering, The University of Sydney. He received his BEng and MSc degrees from Tsinghua University and PhD from Delft University of Technology. He also had an experience of an R&D engineer with a utility manufacturer in UK during his tenure with Tsinghua University, researching on dean coal-combustion technologies. During his tenure with HKPolyU, he secured 16 RGC CERG/GRF grants, along with two ITF grants, two RFCID/HMRF grants and one RGC/NSEC joint grant, and one RGC CRF grant as a Co-PI. He is currently leading a Theme-based-research-scheme (TRS) project "Healthy and Resilient Cities with Pervasive LoCHs', aiming to developed a simulation-based-optimisation (TBO) method to create localised outdoor thermal-comfort hubs (LoCHs) by design in the urban and estate planning stage.

His technology contributions are in a broad area linking thermal and fluid sciences with building environment. He is an editor-in-chief of the Elsevier journal Energy and Buildings, and sits in the editorial board of the Elsevier journal Building and Environment and Journal of Building Performance Simulation, IBPSA's official journal published by Taylor & Francis Journal. He was awarded the fellowship by three leading societies, ASHRAE(American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers), ISIAQ(International Society of Indoor Air Quality) Academy of Fellows, and IBPSA (International Building Performance Simulation Association) Academy of Fellows.





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