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How Climate Factors into Site Analysis

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When designing a building, one of the first things contractors must consider is the desired location. The weather, surrounding buildings, and soil must all be factored into the specifications as they can all affect the eventual success of the building.

After a site is chosen, a process called site analysis must be conducted. As you might guess, this is a thorough study of the aforementioned factors and includes graphs, maps, and in-depth data surrounding each one. The completed analysis will help architects and construction workers decide if the site is ideal and what changes will need to be made to accommodate that specific location. Climate is one of the most important factors in these studies.


Temperature may seem like an obvious consideration, but its importance in the building-design process is almost unmatched. Extreme highs and lows of the local climate must be considered to install proper heating and cooling systems, and humidity must be monitored to choose the most effective insulation and materials. If the building is placed in a high-humidity area, for example, special attention must be paid to substances like wood or light metals that could easily rust, soften, or become damaged.


Wind is another important climate factor to consider because its presence could be both beneficial and detrimental to the construction process. Wind can be a low-cost, yet effective natural ventilator, but because the speed and direction generally changes between the seasons, developers should have knowledge of average wind patterns.

In some buildings, wind can also be used to generate power through the use of large windmills or turbines. This would not be an ideal power source for inner-city buildings, though, due to the turbine size.

The Position of the Sun

Understanding the sun's placement in the sky throughout the day is essential to designing a building. With effectively placed solar panels and window angles, the sun can often be used to heat parts of the building and supplement modern heating systems. While this will result in lower utility costs, overheating and glares could result and should also be thoughtfully considered.

Because the above factors are subject to seasonal variation, climate and site analysis can take many weeks or months to complete. It is vital that contractors understand the environmental aspects of the location and how they could (either negatively or positively) affect the overall design of the building. By using a factor like the sun's position to a builder's advantage, it is easy to see why climate analysis is so important to the building process.