Site Use

Considering how a building and site impact on each other, enhancing energy efficiency, comfort and convenience.

Wind effect/microclimate

As well as being affected by the local climate, many sites have their own microclimate. The site-specific microclimate in particular, wind should be considered when determining the location for the house.

Microclimate effects to consider include:

  • ridges and valleys funnelling wind
  • wind strength will be greater at or near a ridge
  • there will be more wind close to a large expanse of open area such as a park or beach
  • the building height will have an effect on wind speed.

Positioning and designing a building to reduce the negative effects of wind can help to:

  • provide an improved micro-climate around the building with usable outdoor spaces 

  • increase energy efficiency of buildings through deflecting wind to reduce wind chill in winter and increasing cooling breezes in summer
  • reduce wind loads on the structure 

  • reduce the impact of rain on buildings for better weathertightness 

  • reduce noise levels 

  • increase property value and saleability.

Design considerations to minimise wind effects on site

On some sites, the best location for sun or spectacular views may also be the windiest location. When designing for a windy site:

  • consider the direction of the prevailing, strongest or coldest wind for example, in Wellington the wind comes from the north or north-west 61% of the time (the prevailing wind) and from the south approximately 28% of the time (a colder wind), while easterly winds are uncommon
  • provide shelter for outdoor living areas with fences, screens or using the building to create an enclosed courtyard
  • position the rooms (such as living room and bedrooms) where wind noise would be least desirable on the lee side of the prevailing wind direction where possible
  • position frequently used doors and opening windows away from the prevailing wind direction so that they can be left open even in very windy conditions.

See the section on passive design (location, orientation and layout) for ideas on working with sloping sites.

Designing for ventilation while moderating the effect of high winds 
Designing for ventilation while moderating the effect of high winds

The effect of doors on opposite sides of a building, room or hallway should be considered. If they are both open at the same time, depending on prevailing wind directions, this may lead to doors slamming shut or items being blown around. If external doors are located on sheltered sides of the house, this is less likely to occur.


Updated: 16 April 2018

More information

Site analysis>Wind