As architects and designers strive to design futuristic structures—with more technology, more complexity, and more sustainability—energy consumption becomes a crucial factor to consider. ‘Sun, Wind & Light: Architectural design strategies’ by Mark DeKay and G.Z. Brown is a guide for the architects and designers, who are not necessarily energy experts but need to understand the energy consequences of their most basic design decisions. It is a collection of around 150 design strategies and analysis techniques that would help architects break the constraints of energy issues and elevate their design. 

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Cover Page of 3rd Edition of Sun, Wind & Light_©Wiley

As the name suggests, the book uses the site forces of Sun, Wind, and Light; the strategies mainly involve issues of how to heat with the sun, cool with the wind and earth, light with the sky while making power available with renewable energy to design net-zero energy buildings. Mark Dekay and G.Z., while creating the compilation, considered everyone from students to the professionals of the field, making the book a go-to guide for all architects. 

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A Case Study From the 2nd Edition_©Wiley

What Is It About?

The purpose of the book is stated right at the beginning; it aims to blend the language of architectural design with building science in a rather seamless manner. In the words of the book itself: “…it bridges the worlds of engineering and architecture by connecting form and energy flows.” In the process of such integration, climatic factors become a crucial aspect as the building’s response to the climate can directly govern the energy consumption, it can give a regional expression to the overall design while helping in place making. 

Further, with the latest third edition of the book, Mark Dekay and G.Z., have tried to aim at something higher; with more research and experience, they have realized that the need to be sustainable has never been more urgent. They compiled all the accessible methods, this time, in an attempt to contribute to the massive effort of the community to reduce the overall carbon emission from the building sector by 2030. The book might serve as a stepping-stone for meeting and maybe exceeding the Architecture 2030 energy and carbon targets.

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Anatomy of a Design Stratergy_©Wiley

What Are Its Strengths? 

There is always the risk of a guide being overwhelming; however, Mark Dekay and G.Z.’s book aids readers in navigating rather uniquely while maintaining their interest and curiosity. Using matrices, flow charts, and webs are used to differentiate design strategies according to the scale of building and climate. It is kept in mind that the readership for the book would vary, from students to professionals, and thus, everything is explained well from the basics. Once the readers figure out the strategy appropriate for the design, they can easily navigate to the explanation for the same. 

Explanations of the design strategies and the analysis methods are another strength of the book. It includes illustrations for all textual definitions for a better understanding of the approach; it also mentions various case studies showing the implementation in real life. These aspects of the book help the reader understand the mentioned methods better, making it easier to incorporate them in the design. Mark Dekay and G.Z. truly designed a guide that in every aspect tries to create an understanding of the strategies and is not just a mere compilation. 

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Illustration of Case Study Explaining a Strategy_©Wiley

Various analytical charts, illustrations, matrices, tables, flowcharts, and simplified smaller icons for the techniques aid the navigation and understanding of the topic while also maintaining the reader’s attention. The book contains a compact list of the most widely used design methods, dubbed Favorite Design Tools, which might help with approach selection. The book has a dual purpose, ranging from a design guide to a textbook for comprehension, depending on how the reader uses it. 

Originally published in 1985, the book remains relevant to the current times with its newer and updated third edition. Adhering to the need for the present and aiming towards a greener future, Mark Dekay and G.Z.’s ‘Sun, Wind & Light: Architectural design strategies’ is a must-read for every architecture student to develop a realization of the importance of net-zero or net-positive buildings.  

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Sun, Wind & Light First Edition_©
Sun, Wind & Light Second Edition_©

Why Should You Read It?

Though ‘Sun, Wind & Light, architectural design strategies’ never assumes its readership demographic, such a large amount of information and specific design or architectural terms can intimidate a student who is new to the field. With a little effort, once the students understand how to navigate through the book, they can start developing an understanding of the topics while interpreting and implementing them in their way.

Mark Dekay and G.Z. have tried to educate the masses with the design strategies while allowing room for experimentation to create something new that is better, more efficient, and more sustainable. The book becomes essential to the architectural students of today; one can even find the electronic version of ‘Sun, Wind & Light’ that contains more strategies that could not be included in the printed version. Referring to the book during the design process might prove an essential step towards a more sustainable and net-zero structure.


  1. DeKay, M. and Brown, G.Z. (2014). Sun, Wind & Light: Architectural Design Strategies. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
  2. Eric Villagomez (2014).  Book Review – Sun Wind and Light: Architectural Design Strategies (3rd Edition). [online]. Available at: [Accessed 25 June 2021].
  3. Goodreads (2014). Sun, Wind, and Light: Architectural Design Strategies (Revised). [online]. Available at: [Accessed 25 June 2021].
  4. Building Green (2002). Sun, Wind and Light: Architectural Design Strategies, 2nd Edition. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 25 June 2021].
  5. (2014). Sun, Wind and Light: Architectural Design Strategies, Spiral-bound. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 25 June 2021].
  6. Wiley (2014). Sun, Wind and Light: Architectural Design Strategies, 3rd Edition. [online]. Available at: [Accessed 25 June 2021].

Trying to explore architecture and design with words and a fresh perspective, Rashi is still a student in her Undergrad. Her curiosity drives her to learn new things in life while her passion for writing makes her capture her experiences in her play of words.

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