Current statistics say that buildings (both residential and commercial) account for roughly 40 percent of worldwide energy usage, which is much higher than the energy use from transportation. In fact, the majority of the energy used by building structures comes from electricity usage, which greatly increases the facility’s carbon footprint. So what steps can be taken to combat this issue?


The term “building orientation” simply refers to the compass direction the building faces. Will it face directly north? 70° southwest? A building’s orientation can be one of the most important steps in providing the structure with thermal and visual comfort. Both the building’s size and orientation should be decided early on in the design process, as one cannot be optimized without the other.


Successful design orientation for a building can help lower its total energy usage and help it contribute to the vitality of the surrounding environment. For example, a building can be oriented to be fully connected to its surrounding spaces with wild lands or with urban life, depending on where the build site is located.


Building Orientation and Energy Modeling


Before the build process can begin, an energy model of the facility must be designed. The model is typically built in software programs such as Revit, and its purpose is to help engineers assess how much energy the building will be predicted to consume each day of its life as well as over an extended period of time. Various factors will be taken into consideration when developing the building’s orientation. It is vital the building is oriented for optimal:


●        Solar Heating. A building’s orientation in cold climate areas is much different than hot climate areas. In cold climates, it’s important to utilize the sun as much as possible to help with heating the facility. This way, the building won’t have to use nearly as much electricity (and energy) keeping its occupants warm during the cold months.


In this instance, the largest surface of the building will need to be exposed to the sun’s rays. In other words, the more surface area exposed to the sun’s path, the more the sun can passively heat the building. The opposite principle is then used when designing buildings in warm climates. The building can avoid unwanted solar heat gain by being oriented away from the sun.


●        Daylighting. The careful design of a building can help to maximize natural sunlight while maintaining indoor temperature regulation and light glare reduction. Before including extensive daylighting features in a building (including skylights, light shafts, and atriums), designers will orient the structure to maximize daylight potential, taking into account the sun’s daily movement. The optimal use of daylighting requires zero electricity, making.


Developing an eco-friendly building design, including building orientation, is beneficial to both the environment and building owners. It’s Gausman & Moore’s goal to contribute to green building design, making projects more sustainable so they have little impact on the environment. For more information about our sustainable building practices, check out our Sustainability page, or contact us at (651) 639-9606.