Building Orientation


I am a confused on the best orientation for a building in a temperate climate on the Northern hemisphere. I have on my notes, that Mikes says in the lectures the building should be oriented with the long side positioned 15º of east - west. But now I’m going over other material such as Site Planing and Design from Kent Ballast that says 17º east of south which rotates the building to the opposite side.

If ground conditions are not an issue what is the best suited orientation. Could someone please clarify.

mage bellow.

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Hi @liz.concepcion.arch ,

Great question! I am afraid I had to delete the photos as we do not allow posting images of paid content (3rd party of Black Spectacles). You can absolutely post images that are available for free online though!

Honestly, I’ve always found it frustrating trying to understand building orientation. I think one of the things that frustrates me is that there are so many different factors that relying on one single rule of thumb seems difficult to me!

But, I think where this magic 15% number comes from is a particular set of LEED points USGBC has made up. See the image below as well as a link to their website explaining the credit. I think this is where Mike is sourcing his info. I’m not sure where Ballast got theirs from.

What I would recommend is checking out some of the primary resources indicated in the ARE 5.0 Handbook for more information. Page 140 of the “Sun, Wind, and Light: Architectural Design Strategies” has a great table that takes into account the climate, what the priority for design should be, and then in the comments recommends how the building streets should be oriented. If you read on through this book past this page it goes through examples of buildings in different climates and how each would be best oriented. I’m afraid I don’t have a copy of the “Daylighting Handbook I”, but I suspect it might have some good information as well.

Does anyone else have any resources they’d like to recommend for understanding building orientation? Perhaps @coachchrishopstock has a good source? This is definitely something I still struggle with myself.

Hope this helps!


This was really helpful. I will look into those resources. Sorry about the sketches! Thought they where ok since they are from my study notes.

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Hey @coachdarionziegler - I agree with all of the sources that you provided! Thanks for the thorough response.

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