Climate information is one of the most important factors in developing functional and efficient designs. Weather data aids designers in determining building orientation, mechanical system sizes, building materials, and how occupants will interact with their environment.
A new campus plan is currently being developed by CTA Architects Engineers and erstad ARCHITECTS for the Idaho Youth Ranch near Middleton, ID — a site situated in the valley at the base of foothills. While some weather stations exist nearby, the data is neither reliable nor representative of the microclimate at the Idaho Youth Ranch’s future home, so our design team recently installed a mobile weather station at the site, allowing data to be collected in real time through a combination of proprietary software and publicly available websites such as Weather Underground.
As the data is collected, our team will be able to establish weather patterns such as prevailing winds, cloud cover, temperature, and humidity — data that can be used to inform design decisions such as building orientation. In addition, trends will be identified that allow engineers to compare the microclimate at this site with established weather files from local airports, like Boise’s. If extreme temperatures differ significantly from typical meteorological year (TMY) data, the information gathered from the weather station will be used in place of TMY data for sizing of heating and cooling equipment.
The weather station measures solar radiation, wind speed, wind gusts, dry bulb temperature, and humidity. The installation location for a weather station should always be carefully selected. The temperature sensor must be located such that it does not see direct sunlight, solar radiation must be measured in a place where it gets direct sunlight during daylight hours, the anemometer that measures wind speed must be located away from obstructions, and the humidity sensor must be placed away from humidity sources such as ponds. In addition, it is critical to locate the station in a place where it will not be tampered with. The satellite imagery at right shows the existing site prior to Idaho Youth Ranch construction; it gave our team an idea of structures, ponds, and other obstructions. Lastly, it is important to locate the station in an area in which the data will be most useful to designers.
Now that the station has been installed, weather data is being broadcasted, collected, and shared with the design team and the Idaho Youth Ranch.