Early-Stage Design Considerations for the Energy-Efficiency of High-Rise Office Buildings

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Decisions made at early stages of the design are of the utmost importance for the energy-efficiency of buildings. Wrong decisions and design failures related to a building’s general layout, shape, façade transparency or orientation can increase the operational energy tremendously. These failures can be avoided in advance through simple changes in the design. Using extensive parametric energy simulations by DesignBuilder, this paper investigates the impact of geometric factors for the energy-efficiency of high-rise office buildings in three climates contexts: Amsterdam (Temperate), Sydney (Sub-tropical) and Singapore (Tropical). The investigation is carried out on 12 plan shapes, 7 plan depths, 4 building orientations and discrete values for window-to-wall ratio. Among selected options, each sub-section determines the most efficient solution for different design measures and climates. The optimal design solution is the one that minimises, on an annual basis, the sum of the energy use for heating, cooling, electric lighting and fans. The results indicate that the general building design is an important issue to consider for high-rise buildings: they can influence the energy use up to 32%. For most of the geometric factors, the greatest difference between the optimal and the worst solution occurs in the sub-tropical climate, while the tropical climate is the one that shows the smallest difference. In case of the plan depth, special attention should be paid in the case of a temperate climate, as the total energy use can increase more than in other climates. Regarding energy performance, the following building geometry factors have the highest to lowest influence: building orientation, plan shape, plan depth, and window-to-wall ratio.
Original languageEnglish
Article number623
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2017


  • Energy-efficiency
  • Early-stage design
  • Geometric factors
  • High-rise office building
  • Plan shape
  • Orientation
  • Window-to-wall ratio
  • Compactness
  • Energy modelling
  • OA-Fund TU Delft


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