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How to analyse solar access

How can we simulate the sun and how it effects human comfort? In this article, Dr Ico Broekhuizen discusses how we can model the sun.
Pedestrian pathway with  public art and street trees.
© Photo by David Chapman
The instructions in this article are also shown in the video in the previous step of the course. It is recommended to watch the video first, then you can use the step-by-step instructions below as reference.

  1. Open a 3D view of your model in Revit (Tab view > 3D View)

  2. At the bottom of the view, turn on the display of shadows. Then, use the Sun icon to access the “Sun settings” menu.

  3. Select the “Single day” option. Specify the project location. Set the date and the timespan you want to analyze. Make sure the “Ground plane at level 1” option is activated.

  4. For manual visualization of the sun, turn on the Sun path using the Sun icon at the bottom of the 3D view. You can now manually move the sun around to see the shadows move.

  5. To export a solar study, turn of the sun path and adjust the 3D view as desired. You can use the navigation cube in the top-right to get a top-down camera view of your model.

  6. Go to File > Export > Images and animations > Solar study. Check the settings (including resolution of the output file). Save the solar study as .png. This will create a series of .png files, one for each timestep analyzed.

  7. Using an image editing programme (e.g. Inkscape, GIMP, Photoshop) import all images as separate layers. If necessary, move the different images so the buildings are all aligned with each other. Set the transparency of each layer to the same value, e.g. 40%. Adjust the value based on how clearly visible you want the shadows to be.

  8. The resulting image will show areas in a colour ranging from white (never in the shadow) to dark gray (almost constantly in the shadow).

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