Solar Typologies: A Comparative Analysis of Urban Form and Solar Potential

Simone Giostra, Gabriele Masera, Rafaella Monteiro
2022 Sustainability  
Efficient use of energy in the construction sector is a pillar of the European Union's 2050 climate protection goals, yet legislation makes no explicit reference to urban morphology or building form, which are recognized as key to energy performance in buildings. Rapidly changing energy standards and new requirements for on-site energy production demand a vigorous scrutiny of established urban typologies that are largely the product of an older energy regime. The research explores a set of 312
more » ... uilding shapes with floor-to-area ratio (FAR) of 3 within a given plot to identify emerging trends, ranges, and correlations between geometric variables, visual comfort, and energy indicators. Cases are grouped and evaluated in relation to three main urban typologies to highlight unique features related to each typology. The paper also compares two groups of results related to passive and active solar potential, respectively, to identify formal traits that are specific to each of these two design strategies. Finally, the research ranks design options based on total energy use taking into account the energy need for artificial lighting as well as contributions from both passive energy savings and active energy production. Results show that energy demand across cases varies by a factor 2 for passive strategies and a factor 5 when active potential is considered based on shape alone. Best results are clearly positioned at the two extremes of the geometric and proportional range. On the one hand, low-rise compact bar and courtyard buildings that are perhaps most prevalent in our cities today may be effectively retrofitted to meet active energy targets. On the other hand, extremely tall and slim towers appear to be the only typology in the study with the potential to achieve zero-energy status by virtue of their form alone. The work sheds light on the formal implications of EU energy mandates and offers a glimpse of how buildings may adapt to the combined selective pressures of high on-site energy fraction and low energy use to shape our future cities.
doi:10.3390/su14159023 fatcat:h7b7xopux5cenifxgmteq5kkhq