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Toward a standard on the wind tunnel method



Emil Simiu


This document is intended to provide practicing engineers and building code officials with a technical resource that (i) describes current practices for the testing of buildings and other structures in flows simulating natural winds, (ii) provides a basis for discussion on needed improvements to those practices. Improvements are required because, as was demonstrated by recent studies, (i) wind tunnel tests can yield widely different results depending upon the wind tunnel laboratory in which they are conducted, and (ii) standard provisions for wind loads based on insufficiently documented or inadequate wind tunnel tests can be seriously in error. The report presents an overview of the main elements of the wind effects estimation process inherent in the ASCE 7 Standard s conventional (i.e., analytical and simplified) methods. The overview is so structured that the relevance to engineering design of those elements and of the disciplines with which they are associated (micrometeorology, aerodynamics, statistics, wind climatology, structural reliability) is clearly established. The structure developed for that overview is then used for a discussion of the elements of the wind tunnel method estimation process, which parallel, while being typically more elaborate than, their counterparts in ASCE 7 s conventional methods. The report provides suggested guidance on the future development and standardization of the wind tunnel method. Improvements to wind effects modeling and calculation procedures that can be incorporated in standard provisions can contribute significantly to the reduction of losses in strong winds, and of materials and embodied energy consumption.
Technical Note (NIST TN) - 1655
Report Number


Aerodynamics, building codes, micro meteorology, statistics, structural dynamics, structural reliability, wind climatology, wind tunnels, wind engineering.


Simiu, E. (2009), Toward a standard on the wind tunnel method, Technical Note (NIST TN), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD (Accessed July 16, 2024)


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Created September 2, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017