Solar radiation and street temperature as function of street orientation. An analysis of the status quo and simulation of future scenarios towards sustainability in Bahrain
This paper discusses the contribution of street orientation towards the development of a comfortable microclimate for pedestrians in Bahrain. Increasing walkability is a global agenda to address issues such as a) transportation, b) energy consumption, c) health, and d) air pollution, all of which are topics of the sustainability agenda. Thermal comfort is one of the pre-requisites for walkability. In warm climates, this is a challenging goal. Street design is paramount for pedestrian comfort in warm climates. The roles of street orientation and aspect ratio are of particular importance as they determine the intake of solar radiation into the urban canyon. We investigate the state of affairs in Bahrain, by measuring the frequency with which the street orientations E-W, N-S, NE-SW, and NW-SE, currently occur. Research suggests that the street orientation E-W presents the lesser performance for mitigating the effects of heat gain. The ideal grid orientation would, therefore, be N-S, and NE-SW - NW-SE, avoiding street segments with E-W orientation. A countrywide analysis shows that E-W orientation accounts for the highest overall street length with 37%. The second most frequent orientation is N-S (29%), the best performer. NW-SE and NE-SW both have frequencies of only 17%. Preference for a street grid with N-S, NW-SE, and NE-SW orientation would improve the thermal performance of streets and provide a continuous network of a comfortable pedestrian environment. We simulate two future scenarios based on avoiding new E-W streets, or not. We measure their potential reduction in thermal gain and conclude that a simple policy could reduce solar exposition in 40%.