Which way should we orient our green home in Boca Raton, FL?


Which way should we orient our green home in Boca Raton, FL?

Asked by MH

We have a house in Boca Raton, FL. Is there any particular direction a green house is supposed to face? Does it matter?

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Randy Potter's picture

Building orientation for passive solar purposes really depends on several factors:

  • where you are located geographically,
  • what the exposure and orientation of your property is, and
  • what your passive solar goals are.

Cooling more important than heating

Given that you are in southern Florida, I am going to assume that your demands will be around cooling (rather than heating) and natural daylighting.

To achieve these goals, you need to attempt to bring in as much natural light as possible while minimizing unnecessary solar gain. In order to achieve this in your area, north-south exposure is preferable to east-west exposure since the south-facing side of your home will receive direct solar radiation for a smaller portion of the day.

  • East/west orientation receives sun for more hours of the day and at a lower angle, making it much more challenging to shade.
  • Windows that face north will provide the highest quality of daylight and the least amount of heat gain, because the solar radiation does not come directly from the sun but is reflected off surfaces and diffused through the atmosphere.
  • North-facing windows place little burden on the HVAC system and provide pleasant light. Glazing facing south, on the other hand, can receive solar radiation directly from the sun.
  • Southern sun brings with it intense heat which causes localized overheating when focused in a small area, so be sure to consider exterior shading elements on this side of the house.

For more information:

Read Greg Upwall's Q&A "We want to design a passive-solar home for a hot climate. Can we still have views to the east?"

Also, check out the Florida Solar Energy Center website. It is a great resource for consumers as well as design professionals.