DESIGN: Guidance

Impacts of Key Design Parameters for a Classroom Zone

The energy use of a perimeter classroom zone in a school depends on several design decisions—window orientation, window area, shading conditions, glazing type, and whether lighting controls are used in the space. Designers need to know the answers to the following questions. What is the best orientation, window area, and glazing to reduce energy use in a particular location? Are shading devices and lighting controls effective in saving energy?

To provide guidance to designers, these Design Guides examine the energy use impacts for perimeter classroom zones. The energy use has been calculated for many window design variations including 4 orientations, 6 glazing areas, 12 glazing types, 9 shading conditions, and 2 light control options. The assumptions are shown on the next page. All simulations were performed using COMFEN4 and analysis was done using the Facade Design Tool. To determine actual impact of orientation and window area on a specific project, use the Facade Design Tool to find the optimal facade design.

Design Guidance for Schools in Minneapolis, Minnesota (cold climate)»

Design Guidance for Schools in Washington, DC (mixed climate)»

Design Guidance for Schools in Phoenix, Arizona (hot climate)»


These Design Guides were written by John Carmody and Kerry Haglund at the Center for Sustainable Building Research at the University of Minnesota. All simulations were performed using COMFEN4 and analysis was done using the Facade Design Tool.


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