2nd Edition

101 Rules of Thumb for Low-Energy Architecture

By Huw Heywood Copyright 2021
    256 Pages
    by RIBA Publishing

    Buildings and construction are a major contributor to the climate and biodiversity emergency. They account for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. It is more important than ever for architects to design responsibly and create low-carbon, low-energy buildings for a sustainable future. 101 Rules of Thumb sets out the essential elements of low-energy architecture in a fresh, intuitive way. Where ever-changing technology and complex legislation can cloud the designer’s thought-process, this book equips you with the fundamentals you need to minimise CO2 emissions, design for low-energy use and work with, not against, the forces of nature. With reliable, simple rules of thumb, each page focuses on a single piece of guidance along with a clear hand-drawn illustration. The emphasis is on passive low-energy principles, and the rules of thumb cover all the design fundamentals from site and location to orientation and form, peppered with ideas to help the designer think outside the box, drawing inspiration from traditional methods, photoperiodic plants, and the black-tailed prairie dog. An extended, fully updated narrative bibliography explores the sources in detail and provides a valuable springboard for further study. Applicable throughout the world in any climate region, 101 Rules of Thumb is a global primer to be dipped into at any time as a quick means of re-focusing on what’s important when designing a new or retrofitted low-energy building. The rules cover:

    • Site and location
    • Orientation and form
    • The low-energy building envelope
    • Carbon free heating, cooling and lighting
    • Passive low-energy principles.


    1. Working with site and location

    Sun and shade

    Climate and micro-climate

    Shelter from wind and rain

    2. Manipulating orientation and form

    The relationship between sun and wind

    The impact of building form

    3. The low-energy building envelope

    Heavy and lightweight construction

    The timing of heating needs

    Reducing heat loss

    4. Energy and the internal environment

    Carbon free heating – direct, isolated and indirect solar gain

    Carbon free cooling: using earth, wind and water

    Carbon free lighting: daylight


    5. Rules and strategies for different climatic regions

    Hot–dry climate

    Hot–humid climate

    Cold climate

    Cold-winter/hot-summer climate

    Temperate climate


    Huw Heywood is an architect with over 30 years’ experience in practice and teaching internationally. His specialist teaching and research is in environmental & sustainable design and technology and he has taught as Principal Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth School of Architecture, as Adjunct Associate Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and as a guest tutor/lecturer in the UK, Hong Kong, China and Germany.