Understanding Microclimatic Elements in Site Analysis and Their Effect on Your Building

Site analysis is an important part of the planning process for setting up large commercial buildings. In this stage of your building’s architectural design, the focus is on the characteristics of the site, including its history, geography, existing infrastructure and climate. Particularly, microclimatic elements affect the approach, design and configuration of your building. Basically, a microclimate refers to a set of localised climatic conditions that differ from those of the general surrounding. If you are looking to set up a large commercial building, here is a discussion of microclimatic elements in site analysis and their effect on your project:

The Wind

The wind patterns in your construction site can vary significantly from those of the area where the site is located. For instance, dense vegetation growing near the site is an obstacle that reduces the speed of the wind as it flows into the site. This results from friction. To add on that, wind continues to move in the same direction when it encounters an obstacle such as a small hill. By moving over the obstacle, the wind creates a dead air space (called a leeward side). The leeward side does not enjoy the cooling effects of wind. With such considerations taken into account, you can change the location of your building further away from the leeward part of the obstacle. Alternatively, you can incorporate insulation materials during construction to enhance thermoregulation in the building.

The Sun

The sun is another microclimatic element that can affect your project. Natural and artificial elements that are adjacent to your site have a shading effect on different areas of the site. A comprehensive analysis of these shading effects will help you configure and position your building strategically to benefit from the cooling effects of the shade or heating effects of the sun.  A sun path is developed on a graph to determine the shadow patterns of the elements around the site. You will refer to the sun path when building to ensure thermal comfort in offices, accommodation rooms and kitchens among others. This also helps you reduce the money spent when using artificial air conditioning systems.


Large water bodies affect the level of humidity on land. Essentially, inland sites are less humid than those near a large water body are. Humid air is warmer, and it raises the overall temperature of the surrounding. By considering the effects that humidity has on the temperature within your site, you can configure it to take full advantage of the cooling effects of wind or shade from nearby elements. To add on that, you can also clear vegetation to reduce the humidity levels around your site because plants also release water into the atmosphere.

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