Green Building Council | article 16th Apr 2019 PGBC

Orientation Towards the Sun a Basis for Sustainable Architecture

Although passive solar heating and solar energy in general are major subjects of “sustainable architectural design”, the orientation towards sun, which is an inseparable issue related with them does not seem to take part much in discussions about sustainability. I want to discuss about the reasons why orientation can be unpopular or somehow forgotten.

Generally, the orientation of living spaces to south-southeast (of course on the northern hemisphere) is a well known issue. It is also well known that the orientation of a any building block, on the east-west axis, which means longer side towards the south where the sun rays are less inclined and shorter sides to the east or west where the sun rays are more inclined. Another well known point is the afternoon sun from the west is very negative in terms of cooling buildings and spaces, especially in hot climates.

As far as we can know, the idea of orientation of buildings towards south is apparent in the teachings of Mies van der Rohe in the Bauhaus. Various examples from Bauhaus studios show examples of houses, where living rooms are directly exposed to sunlight from south and southeast and exposure to west is intentionally limited. We can note here in city planning before modernism is very formalistic to be concerned with sunlight and in traditional architecture there was no opportunity to choose the general orientation of buildings as urban morphology has taken shape in more complex procedures. Coincidentally there may be towns with south exposure, which somehow become famous with their good climate and nice view of moonlight.

While Bauhaus was practicing the first ideas of sustainable site planning, Le Corbusier has started from a very formalistic approach. His first high rise cross plan housing blocks were allowing airplanes to pass in between. Although Le Corbusier had a very interesting urban development project for Zlin in former Checkoslovakia, where all the building blocks were placed in north-south exposures, he later changed his mind to place his linear blocks in the opposite direction. Because he insisted on double loaded appartments for the sake of economy, he decided to divide the sunlight for the two facades. But he did not give up the few apartments at each floor with south orientation. He somehow created a confusion where all goes except north. Contrary to his great mastery of colors and forms as he always said, his functional planning was not always logical, even sometimes contradictory.

Another approach can also be mentioned as the north exposure philosophy, departing from the various problems caused by direct sunlight. The diffused light from the north would be ideal, as in a sculptor’s studio. This idea was also widely utilised in nothern countries, where huge glazed facades were faced to north, without any good insulation.

After education in Bauhaus was interrupted by the Nazi regime and the World War II, this idea of orientation towards south seems to be almost forgotten. Le Corbusier’s ideas seems to have higher international recognition, as especially seen in the works of Niemeyer. However the idea of arranging new settlements with linear blocks, following Hilberseimer seem to give some examples at the risk of being monotonous. Where all the blocks had the same orientation, there was an obvious problem of monotony implying totalitarianism. Probably it became easier to combine the two different orientations in one project became a brighter solution to get rid of totalitarianism, as in Parisian suburbs, as well as in the eastern block. About Yugoslavian experience it is said that the ability of constructing more blocks from a single position of a tower crane was also supporting the different orientation policy.

At this point i want to tell about my very personal observations from various plattenbau (as they are called in Germany to define the most disturbing urban problem) the north-south exposed linear blocks are well maintained, keeping their economical values in various places of the world, including Istanbul. On the other hand the east-west oriented blocks seem to create various problems, problems of heating in winter, as well as excessive heat gain in summer, generally difficulty of sun control.

In 1963 a very interesting book was published to get world wide recognition named “Design with Climate” by Victor Olgyay. This book, in a short time became the bible of 70’s architecture, we can say, focusing on environmental concerns. Olgyay’s book, in a very direct and open way, explained the disadvantages of west-east exposures and the advantages of south orientation with the very basic idea of sun control with an eave, describing the inclination of sun rays in summer and winter. Everything becomes very clear once again, this time in a more scientific way, to define the principles of the passive solar house.

70’s was also the years of energy crisis, where the inefficient glass architecture with a confused mind was surely an aspect of this. I am thinking that the architecture world confronted this crisis with a very interesting movement called post-modernism, which re-introduced the square windows together with Le Corbusier’s longitudinal window.

After Olgyay we know about correct orientation of buildings but can we say these principles are applied to architecture in some way? I think the answer is no and the reason seems to be the properties of the site. What can an architect do if the site forces the architect to west exposure? This will bring us to another level of urban design or physical planning, if a city can be planned to create more environmentaly sensitive, sustainable architecture? This is of course possible in planned new settlements.

When we compare new capital cities we can also observe different attitudes towards orientation. Ankara’s new plan by Hermann Jansen, a follower of the garden city movement in the 30s, was confronted with a long axis in the noth south direction, the road to Çankaya, later to be named the Atatürk Boulevard. Jansen’s “stadtebau” school from Germany, was quite unaware of orientation of buildings. Ankara’s new buildings suffered from exposure to west, with Jansen’s planning using parallel streets . The new plan for Brasilia was totally disregarding the problem of orientation, with is formalist bird wings plan by Niemeyer, who was probably following Le Corbusier’s confusions. The much criticized planning for Chandigarh by Le Corbusier brings a grid, which strangely give possibilities to southeast oriented architecture. Interestingly the model also shows the majority of the arrangement of blocks are in the southeast orientation, however seems to be unbuilt.

The most relevant plan about orientation seems to be the brilliant linear planning of Doxiadis for Islamabad. Doxiadis’s well articulated blocks with a careful hierarchy of social spaces, seems to give opportunities for a southeast exposed architecture in the majority of the lots, avoiding the famous problem of monotony in planned housing areas. Can we say Islamabad has the potential to be a model for a sustainable city? Hope this city with the brilliant plan can develop, somehow staying low rise as an example of a brilliant sustainable urban development.

Green Building Council | article

Green buildings: Minimising environmental impact


Green buildings, also known as sustainable, energy efficient and smart buildings, are built with the aim to minimise environmental impacts, emitting none or very little amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) and reaping maximum environmental, social and economic benefits. Generally, the direct and indirect benefits associated with green buildings include: reduced energy consumptions, increased water use efficiency, lower environmental impacts, reduced carbon emissions and air pollution apart from increased biodiversity, aesthetic value and provision of more space for food production.

In developing countries, conventionally built residential buildings, offices, shopping centres, parks and educational institutes are dependent on non-renewable energy resources to the maximum. Compared with conventional, green buildings provide, in theory, almost equal to natural environment, promote healthy living, minimise environmental impact and enhance water conservation.

Given the climate in Pakistan, a green rooftop is a good idea to save energy especially in summer as they provide a cooling effect whilst acting as insulators in winter. Moreover, roofs can be used for growing vegetables and ornamental plants. In the present era, roof gardens are common in modern buildings, hotels, business centres and private residences in developed economies but very rare in the developing world.

Charles Lockwood, a real-estate consultant from New York states that “just five or six years ago, the term ‘Green Building’ evoked visions of tie-dyed, granola-munching denizens walking around barefoot on straw mats as wind chimes tinkled near open windows. Today, the term suggests lower overhead costs, greater employee productivity, less absenteeism and stronger employee attraction and retention.”

Site selection for a green building is of prime importance. According to Charles Lockwood, the site should have a parking area, roads and easy access to public amenities. From construction point of view, less dense soil can be a better insulator as it has more air sacks, while construction material made from bio-based products including plywood panels, composites, plastic-wood composite and medium density fibreboard and hardboard originating from agricultural and / or natural bio fibres such as jute, straw, corn, flex, etc. are recommended to be used in green buildings.

More recently, scientists have introduced nano-based structural composite materials for this purpose. These light weight composites are not only durable and low cost but have proven to be good insulators, noise absorbers and resistant to extreme weather conditions. Interior fixings such as lighting in the building, location of home appliances installation, use of water heaters, insulation of water pipes, sealing of ducts, application of water conservation technologies including maintenance of water pipes result in reduced energy consumption from 30-40 per cent in a green building.

After selection of a site, the building’s (proposed) design is of utmost importance to reap maximum benefits of a green setting.

Although construction design and orientation should be in accordance with local environmental and climatic conditions, the direction of the building, windows and doors should preferably face towards the south depending on the route of the sun. Southward facing not only ensures maximum use of natural daylight but also results in improved ventilation and reduced carbon emissions. It is a well-known fact that a building facing southwards uses maximum sunlight, conserves energy and has improved indoor air quality.

It’s often said and is a fact that green buildings have much higher construction costs, but this extra spending pays back a lot more in terms of reduced utility bills, water conservation, improved indoor air quality, health benefits, lower operation and maintenance costs, greater productivity, etc.

The cost of the building varies depending upon the type of building materials and installations being used. For example, installation of energy efficient appliances in the building can be more cost effective. Passive solar system can reduce 30-50pc bills with no additional cost.

Cost-benefit analyses are usually performed before initiating construction; all models

predict an extra cost to build a green site but the benefits outweigh the extra cost which should be considered as investment to reduce monthly cost in term of water conservation and utility bills, etc.

In Pakistan, the idea for sustainable green construction began in 2005 after a devastating 7.8 Richter scale earthquake that hit the northern belt of Pakistan. Later, severe floods notably in 2010 across the country resulting in large scale collapse of infrastructure and non-sustainable buildings strengthened the concept, but no serious efforts have been initiated neither at government nor public level.

It is a need of the hour to set up a body to work with the green buildings idea initially in big cities and then focusing gradually to smaller cities and towns. Public-private partnerships could be highly advantageous to initiate this project; if it is subsidised by the government, it would catch public attention and prove to be a motivation for sustainable construction and healthy living.

Contrary to conventional buildings which contribute to environmental degradation along with human health problems, green buildings would contribute in production of clean air, decrease impact of climate change, solid waste management, rain water harvesting, wastewater treatment and reuse. Green buildings are one of the possible solutions to cope with energy and water shortages in the country.

The authors work at the Centre for Climate Research and Development (CCRD), COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT) Islamabad.Email:

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, November 1st, 2015

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Green Building Council | article

Sustainable Logistic Operations – Study of Leading MNC from FMCG Sector of Pakistan

Muhammad Nauman Abbasi
Corresponding Author Institute of Management Sciences,
Bahauddin Zakariya University, Pakistan

Nadir Munir Hassan
Institute of Management Sciences, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Pakistan

Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences (PJSS)
Vol. 33, No. 2 (2013), pp. 409-420

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Green Building Council | article

Drivers and Barriers to Business Intelligence Adoption

Agha Muhammad Ali Khan, Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, UK

Nadia Amin, Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, UK

Nick Lambrou, Westminster Business School, University of Westminster, UK

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Green Building Council | article


Pakistan is one of the countries with the highest energy consumption for domestic use. Annual energy consumption by the domestic sector is 45.9 % of the total, while the industrial sector, consumes about 27.5 %. About half of the total energy consumed is used in buildings and/or heating, ventilation and airconditioning (HVAC) and lighting appliances. The energy consumed for the same purposes in China and UK is 25 to 30 % and 40 %, respectively, even in extreme weather conditions.

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