Sunlight, daylight and shadowing Print

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Design Checklist​​

  • All habitable rooms (bedrooms and living areas) have direct daylight access.
  • Daylight is provided wherever possible in all other areas to provide a better quality interior environment for occupants and minimise the need for artificial light during daylight hours


Daylight consists of skylight (diffuse light from the sky) and sunlight (direct beam radiation from the sun). These change with the time of day, season, and weather conditions. This variability contributes to pleasant living environments, as does having overall daylighting that is adequate without overheating. Daylight is important for human health and reduces reliance on artificial light, improving energy efficiency and residential amenity.

Better Design Practice

Plan the site so that buildings are orientated to optimise the northern aspect.​

Optimise the number of apartments receiving daylight access to habitable rooms and principal windows​.

Minimise the number of units that have only south facing exterior windows by:​
  • ensuring daylight access to habitable rooms and private outdoor space, particularly in winter.
  • using skylights, clerestory windows and fanlights to supplement daylight access.
  • considering two-storey and mezzanine arrangements to increase daylight access to the habitable rooms and private outdoor spaces with limited daylight (e.g. ground floor units).
  • limiting the depth of single aspect units.
  • locating living areas to the north and service areas to the south.
  • avoiding solely south-facing units.

Design for shading, heat and glare control, particularly in summer by:
  • using shading devices, such as eaves, awnings, colonnades, balconies, pergolas, external louvres and planting.
  • optimising the number of north-facing living spaces (low sun angles to east and west are more difficult to control).
  • providing external horizontal shading to north-facing windows.
  • providing vertical shading to west windows.
  • providing mechanical ventilation (air conditioning) for units that are likely to get a lot of sun (west and north facing) particularly when they are single aspect, which does not allow for natural cross-ventilation.​

Consider minimising external glare off windows by:
  • avoiding reflective glass and films.
  • avoiding tinted glass.

Avoid using lightwells as a sole means of natural light to habitable rooms.​

Allow occupants to adjust natural lighting to suit their needs.​

Rules of Thumb

At least 70% of living rooms and private outdoor spaces in a development should receive a minimum of three hours direct sunlight between 9am and 3pm in mid-winter. In dense urban areas, a minimum of two hours may be acceptable. 

Limit single aspect apartments with a southerly aspect (southwest through to southeast) to a maximum of 10% of the total units proposed. Developments that do not meet this minimum should demonstrate how site constraints and orientation prohibit these standards from being achieved and how issues of energy efficiency will be addressed.

Where south-facing apartments are included in a development, sunny communal outdoor space should be provided to ensure the occupants of these units have access to sunlight somewhere on the site.​
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