A Gaussian Process-Based emulator for modeling pedestrian-level wind field

A. U. Weerasuriya, Xuelin Zhang, Bin Lu, K. T. Tse, C. H. Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Wind tunnel tests and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations remain the main modeling techniques in wind engineering despite being expensive, time-consuming, and requiring special facilities and expert knowledge. There is a clear need for a fast, accurate, but, at the same time, computationally economical substitute. This study proposes a Gaussian Process-based (GP-based) emulator to predict the pedestrian-level wind environment near a lift-up building – an isolated, unconventionally configured building. The proposed GP-based emulator transcends the limitations of previous emulators as it can handle many inputs (8) and output parameters (384) and a large dataset (150 CFD simulations). To increase computational efficiency, the current study proposes a data reduction method based on Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and a technique to estimate hyper-parameters based on optimization. The latter can efficiently compute 250 hyper-parameters and requires no prior knowledge of their probability distributions. The emulator is faster, by a factor of 107 than CFD simulations in predicting wind speeds, and its accuracy is substantiated using both qualitative and quantitative analyses, which reveal that the emulator's predictions of all-prominent flow features near a building have no systematic bias, are highly accurate, and have great reproductivity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107500
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Emulator
  • Gaussian process
  • Lift-up building
  • Model evaluation
  • Pedestrian-level wind environment


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