Ronald Kellett


Relevant Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - April 2022)
Urban form and building energy: Quantifying relationships using a multi-scale approach (2013)

Cities and energy are fundamentally connected. Approximately half of the energy consumed in urban areas is used by buildings, resulting in over 35% of the world’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Urban form (i.e. building morphology and urban structure) plays an important role in building energy; however, few studies have addressed this role in a comprehensive and quantitative way due to the complexities involved in modeling urban systems. This study provides a multi-scale examination of the relationships between urban form and building energy, using the Metro Vancouver region of British Columbia, Canada as an example. The thesis applies consistent methods of 3D and energy simulation modeling at three scales, ranging from individual buildings to urban patterns (i.e. neighbourhood-scale). Quantified impacts of urban form on building heating demand, cooling demand and local energy generation potential are presented. In total, 12 building archetypes and 14 urban patterns are modeled, ranging in density from 0.3 to 2.3 FAR (10 to 250 uph). Each pattern varies in building form, building arrangement, street configuration and mix of building activities. The results illustrate that building morphology and urban structure do influence building energy demand and local energy generation potential; however, the complexity and heterogeneity of urban form at larger scales is found to abate net impacts as “tradeoffs” occur between the energy-reducing and energy-increasing effects of urban form characteristics. For example, while the heating and cooling demand of individual buildings can vary significantly (30%-70%) with urban horizon angle (an indicator of shading from adjacent buildings), the net impact modeled at the urban pattern scale is far less (as little as 5%). The results suggest that urban form will be one of many tools needed to mitigate current energy consumption and GHG emission levels, and synergies between urban form, building systems and materials, and occupant behaviour should be sought. Findings from this thesis will inform the work of local governments and urban planners with interest in building energy at scales larger than individual buildings.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2021)
Simulating the impact of building form and design variables for mid-rise residential building archetypes meeting the BC Energy Step Code (2021)

Reducing energy consumption in the building sector is critical in achieving provincial emission reduction targets. Studies suggest more stringent codes reduce energy and emissions in the building sector. However, prescriptive building codes can restrict design flexibility, most importantly, even code compliant buildings may not perform as intended. On the other hand, performance-based building codes set performance targets and allow designers to choose among various design alternatives to meet performance targets.The Province of British Columbia recently adopted a performance-based building code (the BC Energy Step Code) encouraging the consideration of both form and shell. However, generating and testing possible design alternatives in search of comparable performance under different conditions can be challenging, requiring a large number of simulations in advance.This study sought to provide meaningful insights on how design variables have impacts on achieving the Step Code targets in BC and help make strategic decisions.Existing mid-rises in BC were analyzed to create archetypes by footprint shape (RR-type, L-type, U-type, and S-type). Parametric energy simulations were then conducted using the archetypes to investigate the relationships between building form and design variables on the Step Code targets. Mid-rise residential buildings were chosen for this study because they have become a popular building type in the multi-family residential market and can have more diverse building forms than high-rises.Window U-values and window to wall ratio (WWR) had significant impacts on achieving the Step Code targets, reducing WWR decreased energy consumption in general. Buildings with energy recovery ventilators (ERV) consumed less energy on average over models without ERV and building models without ERV were not able to achieve Step 4 targets in Vancouver.RR-type models were the most sensitive to the design variables and had higher Total Energy Use Intensity (TEUI) and Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI) than other types on average. L-type and U-type buildings were less sensitive to design variables than RR-type and had lower TEUI and TEDI in general. L-type and U-type buildings were generally more effective in achieving the current Step Code targets by taking advantage of their larger floor areas than RR-type and S-type.

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A Proposed Framework for Analyzing the Spatial Organization of Urban Open Space Networks. Case Studies: Tehran and Isfahan, Iran (2015)

Urban Open Spaces (UOS) are among fundamental urban elements that can have a profound effect on the quality of social life and on the physical and/or mental health of citizens. UOS system is composed of individual components and a network that connects these spaces. UOS system, just as any other sustainable systems, should be more than the sum of its parts and should exhibit interdependence among its components. Therefore, there is a need to study these individual UOS as interconnected elements and, in other words, as part of a network.To date, most studies have focused on the quality of UOS as individual urban elements. Studies specific to the role of public participation on design and the planning of certain UOS, quality and quantity assessments of certain case studies, and behavioral studies are all good examples of current studies on UOS. However, a holistic view of these spaces as connected urban elements is missing from most urban studies. The UOS networks of some Iranian cities such as Tehran and Isfahan have faced numerous changes through time. While some cities such as Isfahan have had the opportunity to adapt to new conditions, these sudden changes have caused some abnormalities in the UOS networks of other cities such as Tehran. Moreover, the cultural and historical sensitivities of these cities amplify the complexity and importance of analyzing the UOS network. Despite the need to study UOS networks, only a few of the valuable studies conducted in Iran have addressed the importance of UOS as connected networks of individual elements.Therefore, the aim of this study is to illustrate an attempt to fill in some of that gap by proposing a framework for analyzing the spatial organization of the UOS networks. This Spatial Analysis Framework (SAF) focuses on how individual UOS connect, interact and interdepend upon one another at a greater spatial scale.Finally, using the proposed SAF, the UOS networks of two selected case studies from the historic cores of Tehran and Isfahan have been analyzed and compared. The results of this analysis have been used to refine the proposed SAF.

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Foodshed Vancouver: Envisioning a Sustainable Foodshed for Greater Vancouver (2010)

This study explored assessment methods for sustainable foodshed design. A sustainable foodshed was defined as a regional form that meets local food needs, is energetically productive, and is ecologically and socially resilient. Food system energy inputs were measured through a life-cycle assessment of production, distribution, processing, and nutrient cycling inputs to determine the food system energy balance for Greater Vancouver’s hypothetical foodshed. The model accounted for embedded variables such as dietary habits, circulation allotments and distribution chains, ultimately requiring the integration of qualitative and quantitative indicators at a regional, municipal and farm scale.Findings suggest that Canadians purchase roughly 710 kg of food per year, demanding 0.68ha of farmland per capita. If all proximal Agricultural Land Reserve areas were fully utilized to support Greater Vancouver’s 2006 population, it would require 3.5 joules of energy to produce, distribute, prepare and cycle nutrients for every joule of energy contained in the food Vancouverites eat. It may require a radical transformation of dietary habits and processing methods, and a renewed dependency on human-powered agriculture to sustainably feed the population of Greater Vancouver.

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