Fluid Mechanics for the Built Environment

Module aims

Our urban landscapes are becoming increasingly complex and populated, presenting broad-ranging challenges regarding the sustainability and resilience of cities and buildings. In the design and operation of healthy, energy efficient buildings, understanding the interaction between heat flow, air flow, urban form and human activity is crucial. These topics are increasingly active areas of research and industry in relation to the design of a sustainable built environment.

This module aims to equip students with techniques and understanding that is necessary for the prediction, design and control of flow systems in the built environment. With an emphasis on problem-solving techniques, a focus of the module will be practical design and operational problems.

Learning outcomes

  • Identify and explain the leading contributions to a building’s energy budget.
  • Calculate and combine building envelope U-values to solve design problems.
  • Analyse buoyancy-driven ventilation of interconnected spaces within a building.
  • Formulate and solve heat and air flow problems with networks using analogies from circuit theory.
  • Incorporate the effects of an external environment in calculations for building ventilation, energy consumption and indoor air quality.
  • Apply and develop techniques from optimisation to design energy-efficient buildings.
  • Formulate and solve control problems for efficient building operation using data assimilation.     

Module syllabus




Lectures 1-2

Energy budgets and heat transfer in buildings (e.g. U values and operational requirements).

Energy efficiency and sustainability.


Lectures 3-4

The ventilation of low-energy, comfortable buildings and indoor air quality.


Lectures 5-6

The coupling between energy, ventilation, indoor and outdoor environments.


Lectures 7-8

Efficient building design (objectives and constraints for a building's envelope and layout).


Lectures 9-10

The operation and control of buildings (measurements, data assimilation, robustness).



CIVE40008, CIVE95009, CIVE96009

Teaching methods

Teaching for this module will comprise lectures and tutorials, with design workshops and sessions in computer laboratories. An emphasis will be placed on learning-by-doing to develop problem solving skills that can be applied to end-to-end problems in building design and control.


Assessment will comprise an examination (70%) and a design-based coursework (30%).

Module leaders

Dr John Craske