The following is a brief overview of site and
building orientation. Many problems associated with energy and
the indoor climate are a function of the site geography and its
above and below grade geology and hydrology; as well
as how the building is orientated on the site in relation to the
prevailing flows of natural forces and by-products of man made
inventions and interventions.
Figure 1. Forces of nature flow from high to low
as they seek to create balance and remember building science
principle #1: What is on the outside wants in, what is on the
inside wants out.
Figure 2. I took this aerial photo to show all
our readers how this natural force thing works with man made
activities...if you follow the plume of pollutants from its
source to the diffused and dispersed zone you will see a farm
yard...all I can say is it matters where you build - and it
matters how you
build, in relationship to your environment including the
predominant directions of wind and precipitation. Even small
details such as how windows open (think wind "sail") to choice
in blinds to location of fresh air intakes are not trivial
concerns - it all matters.
Figure 3. When placing a building on its site,
consider how the forces of nature will impact each surface of
the structure as well as the indoor environment. Click image to
Figure 4. Try to think in three dimensions and
understand what is outside wants inside and what is inside will
Figure 6. In addition to heating and cooling
loads for thermal comfort; define the other loads such as
snow melting and imagine how these will be impacted by
Figure 7. Solar gains can be a positive and
negative load depending on geography, orientation and
architectural features. Consider choices in
windows, over hangs and location and type of shading
Figure 8. If solar gains will become a problem
there are several choices in window types but also shading and
where that shading should be placed. Best solution is to prevent
the short wave radiation from entering the building which
includes such strategies as
external shading devices.
Figure 9. Not all shading devices are equal in
performance. Be sure to analyze vertical versus horizontal
shades and choose the the appropriate type for the orientation.
TransSolar's Thomas Auer shares their approach to
indoor climate engineering.
Figure 10. Transsolar is a climate engineering
firm whose scope is to ensure the highest possible comfort in
the built environment with the lowest possible impact on the
environment. This is accomplished by developing and validating
climate and energy concepts through the recognition that
environmental conditions are influenced by all aspects and
stages of design.