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Ecotect Tutorial : Solar Envelope

Synopsis

This tutorial explains how to perform the solar envelope checking component of the right to light analysis in Ecotect. This analysis is based upon the Building Research Establishment publication Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight: A Guide to Good Practice, and whilst this is specific to the UK, the concept and processes involved are pretty much the same throughout the world.

Duration

You will need about 10 minutes to complete this tutorial.

Training and Accreditation

Successfully completing this tutorial fulfills one of the practical skills required for completing Level X of the Description training module.

Resources Required

To complete this tutorial, open the Bldgs-ShadingDesign-RtoL.eco file located in the Examples folder of your Ecotect installation.

If you are unfamiliar with the concepts that inform a right to light analysis, you may want to have a look at the Right to Light Analysis page before attempting this tutorial.

Tutorial

The example file shows a typical development scenario - a new high rise development adjacent to an smaller, existing building. We can check the solar envelope to see which parts of the new proposal are likely to impact on the existing buildings daylight access, particularly for the north and west elevations.

  1. Before you can perform a right to light analysis, you first need to create a series of baselines from which to project the right to light measurement planes. This model has them already, so select them as shown (use the Space to toggle between selected objects). Otherwise, you would use the line tool to create your own baselines.
    Select the baselines as shown.
    Select the baselines as shown.
  2. Go to the Calculate»Right to Light Analysis... menu item. The wizard appears - select the Check Solar Envelope radio option and then click Next.
    Select the Check Solar Envelope option.
    Select the Check Solar Envelope option.
  3. As with other calculation wizrds, the next screen confirms that you have selected baseline objects to use for checking the solar envelope. Press F2 to return to the model to select baselines (if you haven't done so already), or click Next to continue.
    Confirm the baselines have been selected.
    Confirm the baselines have been selected.
  4. Baselines for the solar envelope check should be 2m above the average ground level on each main facade of the building, as per the publication guidelines - Ecotect can automatically elevate the baseline to this height if you haven't drawn it at that height already. Since we haven't, choose the Yes radio option, and then click Next.
    Select Yes to apply the 2m rule.
    Select Yes to apply the 2m rule.
  5. Ecotect needs to know whether the baselines are along the building facades or the site boundaries, as the VSC value used differs for each. For this tutorial, choose the Along Building Facade radio option and then click Next.
    Select Along Building Facade and click Next.
    Select Along Building Facade and click Next.
  6. Now specify how to Ecotect should draw the solar envelope. At this stage, choose the Extrude planes from each selected object, leave the checkbox options unchecked, and then click Next We'll discuss the other option later in the tutorial.
    Select the extrude planes from each selected object.
    Select the extrude planes from each selected object.
  7. The settings you have specified are summarised in the next wizard screen. Confirm your selections are correct, make any changes if necessary, and then click Ok.
    Check the settings you specified.
    Check the settings you specified.
  8. Ecotect creates planes to represent the solar envelope for the selected building. However, you will notice that the projection isn't in the right direction, so we need to make a minor adjustment.
    Oops.
    Oops.
    Delete the incorrect solar envelope (click Yes to clear particles). With the baselines selected, start the right to light analysis again. When the wizard appears, click Skip Wizard instead of Next.
  9. This jumps you straight to the summary screen, and all of our settings from before should still be there. This time, check the Reverse Extrusion Direction checkbox before proceeding.
    Check the Reverse Extrusion Direction checkbox.
    Check the Reverse Extrusion Direction checkbox.
  10. Ecotect now generates the solar envelope planes correctly. To see them more clearly, click on the Visualise page. This solar envelope allows you to see which parts of the new development are likely to affect the right to light for the selecting building.
    The solar envelope viewed from the Visualise page.
    The solar envelope viewed from the Visualise page.
  11. Another variation possible with this kind analysis is to display the solar envelope as sprayed particles instead of as planes. In the following screenshot, the window was selected as the item of interest, with the sprayed particles showing the relative importance for which parts of the proposed development have the greatest obstructive potential. This analysis is particularly useful for facades with many windows.
    The solar envelope for the selected window, displayed as sprayed particles.
    The solar envelope for the selected window, displayed as sprayed particles.
Ecotect Tutorial : Prevailing Winds and Climate Data
Ecotect Tutorial : Spatial Visibility Analysis

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