Wind Engineering & Natural Disaster Mitigation
For more than 50 years, Western has been internationally recognized as the leading university for wind engineering and wind-related research. Its researchers are world leaders in knowledge related to the social, political, economic and practical dynamics of environmental disaster mitigation, with specific strengths in wind and earthquake research.
Key Research Initiatives
Designed to protect us from storms, harness the power of wind and develop sustainable cities, the Wind Engineering, Energy and the Environment (WindEEE) Institute at Western is home to the world’s first three-dimensional wind-testing chamber. As the world's most advanced experimental facility for studying wind, WindEEE's facilities allow scientists to address important scientific, economic and societal challenges related to wind, while evaluating energy potential and damage risks.
Considered the birthplace of the modern practice of wind engineering, the BLTWL offers wind tunnel testing and analysis methods that provide planners with solutions to complex wind engineering problems at the project design stage. Its researchers have contributed significantly to our understanding of wind engineering and have carried out innovative design studies on major structures around the world, including tall buildings, long-span bridges and cityscapes.
Dubbed the 'Three Little Pigs' project, the Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes is the first facility of its kind to allow researchers to simulate and study realistic damage to full-scale homes and buildings from wind, snow and rain – all within a controlled, and realistic, environment. By simulating the swirling and gusting of hurricane-force winds of up to 200 miles per hour, work at the facility helps engineers assess and accurately predict how houses and light structures might behave under environmental stress.
Home to the world’s first hypobaric bird wind tunnel, which allows for precise control over internal conditions – such as moisture, temperature and pressure – the Advanced Facility for Avian Research allows scientists to simulate climates and altitudes experienced by birds as they fly. This work helps us understand the biological parameters and survival of migrating birds, including the physiological effects and aerodynamics of long distance, high-altitude migration.
Catastrophes such as earthquakes and floods kill thousands of people and destroy billions of dollars of personal property, buildings and other structures annually. The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction is a world-class centre for multidisciplinary disaster prevention research and communications that brings together scholars, insurance companies and other partners to examine the politics, science and economics behind natural hazards and prevent them from becoming catastrophes. Its members also develop prevention programs, increase public awareness of findings and provide advice about preventing disaster losses.
The Geotechnical Research Centre has secured hundreds of contracts to solve practical civil, geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering problems for industry and government. The interdisciplinary centre's members use state-of-the-art facilities to examine soil and foundation dynamics, contaminant transport, soil stability and groundwater-surface water interactions, among many other aspects of geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering.