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Geographical Distribution of Carbon Emissions
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Solar Site Analysis
Radiation Impact on Surfaces
Fenestration and Shading
Daylight Analysis
Air Flow Analysis
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The Carbon Neutral Design Project:
Carbon Neutral Teaching: Curriculum Materials Development
Pablo La Roche
California Polytechnic State University

Fall 2007, 2008 graduate/undergraduate elective ‘Topics Studio’

Solar Site Analysis

Solar Site Analysis

Design Performance Objective

Solar Site Analysis

Students: Serge Mayer, Ryan Cook, Marcos Garcia, John Duong, Ryan Hansanuwat


Fall 2007, 2008 graduate/undergraduate elective ‘Topics Studio’

Solar Site Analysis

Building shading on outdoor spaces has an important effect in the perception of the space and its use. If it is intended for winter use and it is shaded by a neighboring building it it will probably be dark, cold and unused. Nor will it be used if it is intended for hot weather use and it is unshaded. This technique permits to calculate the effect of building shading on exterior spaces to determine if they spaces can be used as proposed during the summer or winter. The method can also be used to determine performance of PV systems or solar windows for passive and active heating. Adjustments in building massing can then be proposed to to improve shading or solar access.

Investigative Strategy

1.1. Shade in site. Analize climate to determine shading and radiation needs. Climate analysis of weather files indicates required design strategies to achieve thermal comfort in indoor spaces (Fig. 1) but can also help to determine when solar radiation is an asset or liability in outdoor spaces. The sun shading chart in Climate Consultant combines solar geometry with outdoor temperature in one diagram making it more useful.

1.2. Determine the placement of the analysis points using a grid or strategically located points (Fig 3).

1.3. Select the points option in Ecotect’s 3d editor. Place these points in the desired positions.

1.4. Select Sun Path Diagram Tool under “Calculate” in Ecotect and place the cursor in the points. Ecotect draws the perimeter of the building mass in the sun path diagram permitting to determine their shading effect during the whole year.

2. Orientation of buildings.
2.1. Radiation of surfaces is calculated using Ecotect to determine best building orientations. A visual analysis is done but total irradiation per surfaces can also be calculated to determine the most efficient surface .

2.2. Orientation and Energy Use.
HEED is used to determine the optimum orientation as a function of energy use. The same building is rotated in different schemes and yearly energy use in the BEPS window or different schemes in the energy costs screen can be compared. All other variables being equal, the building with the lowest energy consumption should be selected.

Evaluation Process
Class discussions and presentations of the information. The results should inform design decisions.
Information about the Project and Studio

• course outline

• project outline

Evaluative Criteria
Shade or solar radiation should be provided during desired times in the outdoor spaces.
Appropriate orientation should reduce energy use.
Cautions/Possible Confusions
Many students find the sun path diagram with the building outlines difficult to understand.
Range of Applicability in terms of CLIMATE
This type of exercise is valuable for all climate zones but should be noted to produce different results for various locations.
Range of Applicability in terms of TYPE
This can be used for any building type.
Reference Material

Ecotect -
Ecotect discussion forums -
Climate Consultant -

Mechanical and Electrical Equipment for Buildings, 10th edition, by Stein,Reynolds, Kwok and Gronzik published by Wiley, 2005.

Duration of Exercise
One studio session.
Degree of Difficulty / Previous Knowledge Required

Solar Studies with Ecotect

Solar Studies performed with Ecotect

Psychrometric Chart

Psychrometric Chart - Created with Climate Consultant

Sun Shading Chart

Sun Shading Chart - Created with Climate Consultant





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