Skyscrapers dirtier, more polluting than we think

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 02, 2012 07:30 hrs

Toronto, Nov 2 (IANS) Expanding populations are forcing housing and office structures skywards, which are billowing toxins and pollutants from their rooftops and are dirtier than we think, says a new study.

By examining the path and amount of air pollution from a building to its neighbours downwind, Concordia University researchers Ted Stathopoulos and Bodhisatta Hajra have come up with eco-friendly building guidelines.

They hunkered down in Concordia's cutting-edge wind tunnel lab, a huge underground research facility which allows engineers to test the atmospheric dispersion of pollution and toxins in any given setting, the journal, Building and Environment reports.

"We created model configurations consisting of buildings of various sizes and shapes," says Stathopoulos, who was awarded the prestigious Davenport Medal by the International Association for Wind Engineering in Sep 2012, according to a Concordia statement.

Hajra, who received his doctorate during Concordia's autumn convocation Oct 30, goes on to explain: "We then placed our models downwind of a building that was emitting toxins to trace the path from polluter to polluted. That allowed us to see how much pollution was being absorbed by buildings downwind and where on those buildings that pollution was most concentrated."

Their findings show that the process by which air pollution spreads from one building's exhaust stack to another's intake is affected by the height and spacing between buildings, something that can be optimised by architects and engineers as new towers are constructed.

"While our research may not reduce the amount of outdoor pollution in our cities," says Stathopoulos, "it can certainly help ensure that this same dirty air is not re-circulated indoors".

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