Hot humid climates have very long summers with slight seasonal variations and relatively constant temperatures. The weather is consistently hot and humid, as in New Orleans. Buildings designed for hot, humid climates take advantage of shading from the sun to reduce heat gain and cooling breezes. East and west exposures are minimized to reduce solar heat gain, although some sun in winter may be desirable. Wall openings are directed away from major noise sources so that they can remain open to take advantage of natural ventilation. If possible, the floor is raised above the ground, with a crawl space under the building for good air circulation.
The climate of a particular building site is determined by the sun's angle and path, the air temperature, humidity, precipitation, air motion, and air quality. Building designers describe sites by the type of soil, the characteristics of the ground surface, and the topography of the site.
Subsoil and topsoil conditions, subsurface water levels, and rocks affect excavations, foundations, and landscaping of the site. Hills, valleys, and slopes determine how water drains during storms and whether soil erosion occurs. Site contours shape paths and roadway routes, may provide shelter from the wind, and influence plant locations. Elevating a structure on poles or piers minimizes disturbance of the natural terrain and existing vegetation.
The construction of the building may alter the site by using earth and stone or other local materials. Construction of the building may bring utilities to the site, including water, electricity, and natural gas. Alterations can make a positive impact by establishing habitats for native plants and animals.
The presence of people creates a major environmental impact. Buildings contribute to air pollution directly through fuel combustion, and indirectly through the electric power plants that supply energy and the incinerators and landfills that receive waste. Power plants are primary causes of acid rain (containing sulfur oxides) and smog (nitrogen oxides). Smoke, gases, dust, and chemical particles pollute the air. Idling motors at drive-up windows and loading docks may introduce gases into building air intakes. Sewage and chemical pollutants damage surface or groundwater.
Other nearby buildings can shade areas of the site and may divert wind. Built-up areas upset natural drainage patterns. Close neighbors may limit visual or acoustic privacy. Previous land use may have left weeds or soil erosion. The interior of the building responds to these surrounding conditions by opening up to or turning away from views, noises, smells, and other disturbances. Interior spaces connect to existing on-site walks, driveways, parking areas, and gardens. The presence of wells, septic systems, and underground utilities influences the design of residential bathrooms, kitchens, and laundries as well as commercial buildings.
Traffic, industry, commerce, recreation, and resi- i( dential uses all create noise. The hard surfaces and parallel walls in cities intensify noise. Mechanical systems of neighboring buildings may be very noisy, and are hard to mask without reducing air intake, although newer equipment is usually quieter. Plants only slightly reduce the sound level, but the visually softer appearance gives a perception of acoustic softness, and the sound of wind through the leaves helps to mask noise. Fountains also provide helpful masking sounds.
As you move up and down a site or within a multistory building, each level lends itself to certain types of uses. The sky layer is usually the hardest to get to and offers the most exposure to wind, sun, daylight, and rain. The near-surface layer is more accessible to people and activities. The surface layer encourages the most frequent public contact and the easiest access. The subsurface layer confers isolation by enclosure and provides privacy and thermal stability, but may have ground-water problems.
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How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.