Climate conditions influence a building designer’s choice of building orientation, configuration and envelope, as well as a building’s energy requirements for heating, cooling, ventilation, and illumination. Two buildings in different geographic areas experiencing similar temperatures, but different amounts of sunlight, can vary in annual energy consumption in excess of 30%, according to ENERGY STAR. Solar loads must be accurately calculated every month to determine the amount of sunlight that strikes a building at different times throughout the year. Upgrading glazing can also help a building meet today’s building and energy codes with U-values and solar heat gain coefficients set to exceed minimum standards. If planted close enough to the building, trees can modify outdoor humidity in the immediate building area. The direction a building faces, as well as its configuration, determine how climatic and topographic factors impact its energy consumption. A building with a round configuration, for example, has less surface area than other building shapes and therefore experiences less heat gain or loss than other configurations with equal floor space. Understanding the external factors that affect interior building conditions will help you as you endeavor to develop an effective energy management program, taking into consideration the demand on building systems and the building envelope.
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