Determination of Solar-Surface-Area-to-Volume Ratio: Early Design Stage Solar Performance Assessment of Buildings


One of the main targets of globally aimed strategies such as the UN-supported Race to Zero campaign or the European Green Deal is the decarbonisation of the building sector. The implementation of renewable energy sources in new urban structures, as well as the complex reconstruction of existing buildings, represents a key area of sustainable urban development. Supporting this approach, this paper introduces the solar-surface-area-to-volume ratio (Rsol) and the solar performance indicator (Psol), applicable for evaluation of the energy performance of basic building shapes at early design stages. The indicators are based on the preprocessors calculated using two different mathematical models—Robinson and Stone’s cumulative sky algorithm and Kittler and Mikler’s model—which are then compared and evaluated. Contrary to the commonly used surface-area-to-volume ratio, the proposed indicators estimate the potential for energy generation by active solar appliances integrated in the building envelope and allow optimisation of building shape in relation to potential energy losses and potential solar gains simultaneously. On the basis of the mathematical models, an online application optimising building shape to maximise sun-exposed surfaces has been developed. In connection with the solar-surface-area-to-volume ratio, it facilitates the quantitative evaluation of energy efficiency of various shapes by the wider professional public. The proposed indicators, verified in a case study presented, shall result in the increased sustainability of building sector by improving the utilisation of solar energy and overall energy performance of buildings

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