Cum laude for designing the climate of cities

Yesterday afternoon Yasin Toparlar obtained a PhD cum laude at TU/e for his research entitled: ‘Designing the climates of cities’ in which he developed a model that analyzes and reduces the energy consumption of a building by adapting to the urban climate. In addition, Toparlar has played an important role in the research into the aerodynamics of cycling, including research into the effects of trailing cars and motorbikes on a cyclist during races.

Buildings account for around 40% of global energy consumption. An energy-efficient building is typically designed by making changes to the building itself. The model developed by Toparlar, however, takes more account of the urban climate and how that affects the building.

The urban heat island effect

The demand for energy for buildings depends on various factors, such as residents, building installations, the building envelope and the microclimate around the building. For buildings in cities there is an extra factor: the urban heat island (UHI) effect. This indicates that the temperature in a city is generally higher than in the surrounding rural areas. Since the UHI effect increases the temperature in cities, this can lead to higher energy consumption for summer cooling, for example. Numerical approaches (such as computational fluid dynamics, CFD) are used to simulate the current and future climate of cities, taking into account heat exchanges and wind. This model has been tested in Rotterdam and Antwerp and has proved very accurate with respect to the air temperature measured.

The model can now be used to establish specific guidelines for energy-efficient urban building design. In addition, this model can be used to design cities with a view to optimizing microclimates for energy-efficient building use.

‘Also a heart of gold’

Bert Blocken is more than satisfied with the new doctoral graduate: “Yasin the type of PhD student who embodies the word ‘excellence’ and does so in an excellent way, I would say. A PhD student who already supervises other doctoral students, carries out other research projects, and also publishes about them, in addition to his own doctoral research, and gives lectures at two universities. We don’t have many of those about. And he also has a heart of gold.” In addition, his work proved instrumental in the area of cycling aerodynamics.

Striking number of citations

The first article from Toparlar, published in 2015 in Building & Environment, has been labeled by Web of Science as a “Highly Cited Article”. In other words, “as of September/October 2017, this highly cited paper received enough citations to place it in the top 1% of the academic field of Engineering based on a highly cited threshold for the field and publication year, which is quite remarkable for an article by a PhD student. Toparlar's second article is also of a high level: it is considered to be “of the size and quality expected of a senior researcher” and is based on 390 sources.

Curriculum Vitae

Yasin Toparlar (1987) graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Bogazici University, Turkey. During his Master’s in Building Services at TU/e, he wrote his thesis entitled ‘Computational analysis of climate change adaptation measures on the basis of evaporative cooling’, in which he focused on adapting to climate change at city level by means of cooling by evaporation. In 2012 he worked briefly as a researcher at TU/e and in the same year started his doctoral research in the Building Physics and Services group of the Department of the Built Environment. He is (co-) author in 7 ISI journal papers, 12 conference papers and is a reviewer for various international journals. Parallel to his own research he is co-supervisor of 2 other PhD students and 4 Master students.

Public summary

PhD thesis (full text)