Sustainability First
Orientation of Building in Relation to Sun and Wind

Orientation of Building in Relation to Sun and Wind

Are you an architect and want to create awesome buildings designs? Well, one of the most important attributes to factor is building orientation.

February 18, 2022

Are you an architect and want to create awesome buildings designs? Well, one of the most important attributes to factor is building orientation. This means designing buildings in a way to ensure they get optimal ventilation plus natural light no matter the climatic conditions. How do you achieve this? Keep reading as we dig deeper into the orientation of building in relation to sun and wind and also highlight the best apps to use. Read more about how to create a sustainable building.

How Does the Sun Impact Building Design?

One of the vital things to factor in when designing a house is the energy requirements. In colder months, people use energy to heat their homes or houses. However, larger energy-related bills in summer go into the air conditioning to keep the houses cool. Therefore, you need to orient the house to take advantage of the natural light and heating from the sun. So, how exactly do you do this when working on a building design project?

Because the earth is positioned on an axis, the sun shifts its position and causes changes in seasons. For a person living in the northern hemisphere, summer takes place when the sun is in the far north. The winter takes place when the reverse happens: the sun is in the southern sky. So, you need to understand and optimize these facts for passive solar gains in your building designs. With a good design, you can help your clients to cut down the cost of home heating by up to 40%. Check out the best practices that every architect needs to follow and apply in building.

Best Practices for Orientation of Buildings in Relation to Sun and Wind

Here are some best practices to help you optimize passive solar effects in building design:

●        Consider orienting your building designs longitudinally

This implies that the length of the home should take a west-east orientation. Again, the smaller width should be on the northern side to optimize solar gains in colder months. If you are designing a home for a client in the southern hemisphere, the length should still be on an east-west consideration for maximum solar energy gains. However, the smaller width should face the south. In the equatorial region where the sun is available most of the days of the year, the orientation might not target getting direct radiation but a cool breeze to cool the house on hot days. An interactive façade would come in handy in this case to make the house design more appealing.

●        Make Sure to Use True North and South

To be able to optimize the benefits of building orientation, you need to differentiate between the true north and magnetic north. The sun follows the true north and this is what you should use when designing a building to cut down energy-related bills. Ensure that the short axis of the house orients towards the true north or south to capture maximum sun light and heat

●        Ensure the House Floor Plan is Oriented Towards the Sun

Can you imagine getting the sunlight right in your house in winter? It is possible with the right building orientation. By designing houses with regularly used rooms, such as the living room and kitchen on the south (for houses in the northern hemisphere) and north (for houses in the southern hemisphere), it will be possible to receive sun most times of the year. You should also design decks and patios on the side where they will get maximum sunlight. Then, those that are not used regularly, such as the bedroom and library, can be positioned away to act as buffers during the cold months.

●        Position Windows to Serve as Source of Heat and Light

There is nothing as enjoyable as being able to enjoy passive heating in the house. Whether it is in the form of light or heating, a house becomes more comfortable, and energy-related bills will go down. If you are designing a building with large patios and verandahs, orient them in a way that the user will be able to enjoy every minute the sun is up. Sure it might not be all the months of the year, but the satisfaction from your building when the sun finally shines above the sky will be unforgettable.

●        Factor the Direction of Mountains

You need to appreciate that the north-south orientation can be exaggerated if the site is located in a hilly or mountainous region. For example, what if the site is sloping towards the west as opposed to the common north-south direction? What if the plot is positioned at the mountain peak where there are strong winds?

One of the solutions to the above two scenarios is working on a building design that allows for about 30% from the east-west orientation. This means that during the cool and warm months, you will still get sunlight and heat because of the angle.

●        Use Wind Data to Take Advantage of Wind Breezes

The wind is another crucial environmental factor that you must include in the equation of building design and orientation. You can check for solar and wind data to determine the predominant and general wind direction so that the house can enjoy cool breezes to reduce the cooling needs on hot days. When there are strong winds, the house design should be strong enough to protect both the structure and occupants.

Other important considerations related to the orientation of building in relation to sun and wind are drainage, scenic views, street appeal, and drainage considerations. Make sure to also understand your client well because there are some who have special attachments to regions, mountains, or religious places and would do anything to stick to them and bypass all other factors.

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