Importance of Site Orientation

Maintaining a comfortable internal temperature in your home is so important and the positioning of your home on its’ site can have quite an effect on this. Considering the orientation of your home in relation to the sun’s path, the type of light (and heat) that will enter the building and a particular time, can have a significant effect on your comfort and give you the ability to regulate your home’s internal temperatures. How you orientate your home will differ according to the local climate and amount and type of glazing you have.

Principles of good orientation are based around the understanding of your local climate, true north, sun angles for your home, optimising the architectural design and window placement.

Orientation also examines your block’s wind patterns, which aids in cooling the building. Understanding wind direction around your home will assist with naturally cooling your home in the warmer months means windows need to be correctly placed to direct the wind through your home.

The path of the sun in Australia is to the north so to capture as much winter sun as possible living areas of your home are best orientated to face north, with sufficient eaves or pergola shading from the summer sun as it sits higher in the sky.

To help warm your home in the cooler months it is important to maximise northern exposure of walls and windows, whilst reducing east and west exposure to avoid overheating in summer. We gain and lose the most amount of heat through glazing, so the size, positioning and treatment of our windows are extremely important. Placing operable windows facing northwest will capture warmer prevailing winds. Engaging an Energy consultant is important, they will advise you of the amount of glazing allowable in each room. The challenge we frequently face is wanting more glass than is allowable for each room. This challenge is often overcome by increasing insulation requirements, increasing the specification of glass type and appropriate external shading devices.

Indoor and outdoor connectivity also work to capture warmth in winter or a cooling breeze in summer, north facing windows will capture warmth during the winter months, passive heating is usually easily achieved by locating living spaces (indoor and outdoor) to the north so that the low angle of the winter sun can enter these spaces. Shade from the summer sun on the north is easily managed by implementing horizontal shading devices.

As an example of efficient orientation, our Branksome project in City Beach is a contemporary home with generous spaces that capitalise on natural light and ventilation, achieving an eight-star energy rating thanks to passive solar design principles. It is a great example of large windows to embrace the winter sun, with an extensive roof cover to protect from the higher summer sun.