This paper focuses on the development of a thermal design tool for use in planning outdoor spaces by combining a heat balance simulation for urban surfaces, including buildings, the ground and greenery, with a 3D-CAD system that can be run on a personal computer. The newly developed tool is constructed by improving the previous simulation model, which uses the geographic information system (GIS) for the input data. The simulation algorithm is constructed so as to predict the surface temperature distribution of urban blocks while taking into account the actual design of the outdoor space using the 3D-CAD system. A method of multi-tracing simulation to calculate the sky view factor and radiative heat transfer is established. The optimal mesh size is examined for the tool so as to provide detailed spatial geometry within a suitable calculation time. The simulation model is integrated with an all-purpose 3D-CAD software, and the pre-processing method are constructed for practical use. The results obtained by applying this simulation tool to an area of detached houses reveals that the tool is able to evaluate the effects of building shape, materials, and tree shade on the surface temperature distribution, as well as the MRT and HIP, which are evaluation indices of the outdoor thermal environment. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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