Evaluating the Practicability of the new Urban Climate Model PALM-4U using a Living-Lab Approach


Numerical urban climate models have the potential to be commonly used tools in urban development processes in practice. With integrated modules for building and envelope simulation these complex models allow the assessment of measures in the building sector on the urban climate, e.g. for mitigation of urban heat island effects or preparing for the effects of climate change. However, the currently existing models do not fulfil the requirements that arise in the field of urban planning, as they lack for example functionality, user-friendliness, are hard to integrate in the municipalities’ technical equipment or are not freely available. The German research and development project Urban Climate under Change (2016-2019) developed and validated a new innovative urban climate model called PALM-4U. Aim of the research was to create a model that meets the requirements of users in science as well as practitioners in engineering offices and urban administrations. Therefore, technical features and operational functionalities which the model has to meet to support users in their daily work have been assessed in a first project phase. In total more than 200 requirements were collected which are summed up in the so called “User and Requirements Catalogue”. They served as the basis for testing and evaluating the model’s real-world applicability. To ensure that these complex requirements are met, the whole project follows a transdisciplinary approach integrating science (model development and data assimilation) and practice (user requirements, testing and evaluation) applying a living lab approach: Stakeholders from participating cities and companies took part in on-site workshops, introducing the model with practical use-cases. Afterwards, participants were given tasks covering different features of the model’s applications, which they tested in personal use. The model fulfils the majority of the tested requirements and the users appreciated the model’s concept and functionality. But further development is necessary to provide the practitioners a tool that is applicable in their daily work: Preparation of input data, a user-friendly graphical user-interface, enhanced interfaces to other software and planning tools, use cases that were prepared from experts as well as guidelines and tools for result assessment and interpretation were main suggestions for improvement.
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