Modeling Courtyards
Christopher Riddell avatar
Written by Christopher Riddell
Updated over a week ago

What is a courtyard?

A courtyard refers to an open or partially enclosed outdoor space within a building that has a significant impact on both the availability of natural daylight and energy consumption. Courtyards are designed to optimize energy performance and also play a crucial role in daylighting strategies, affecting the distribution and availability of natural light within the building.

Benefits of courtyards

  1. Optimize Daylighting:

    1. Daylighting Penetration:
      Courtyards can capture and redirect daylight into surrounding spaces, reducing the need for artificial lighting during daytime hours.

    2. Glare Control:
      Properly designed courtyards help mitigate glare issues that may arise from excessive daylight.

  2. Impact on energy consumption:

    1. Shading and Solar Heat Gain:
      The design and configuration of a courtyard can provide shading to adjacent spaces, reducing solar heat gain and cooling loads.

    2. Ventilation and Airflow:
      Courtyards can contribute to natural ventilation strategies by facilitating airflow.

    3. Thermal Mass:
      Courtyards often incorporate materials with high thermal mass, such as concrete or stone, which can absorb and store heat.

How to model Courtyards in drawing.tool

Courtyards are not drawn directly with the interface, instead we convert enclosed rooms to courtyards via the Remove Rooms toggle in the Floors Properties Panel. To create a Courtyard, first start by drawing all the rooms of your project, remember that Roofs will automatically be created!
Next follow these steps:

  1. Select the Rooms that will be converted to a Courtyard.

  2. Once selected, locate the Floor sidebar properties on the left and Select the "Remove Room" checkbox to convert the the enclosed room to an open to sky courtyard.

    Important Notes:

    1. Courtyards have no properties that can be assigned to it.

    2. Courtyards should not be placed if there is a room above or below it.

    3. Courtyards should be surrounded by at least two enclosed rooms to avoid a doughnut shaped room which will impact simulation performance.

How does a Courtyard impact analysis?

3D Analysis:
Courtyards are considered to be Outdoor spaces that are open to sky and therefore floor plate daylight/Views analysis will be not be run in 3D Analysis. This also means that daylight and views will pass through any windows or openings placed on the Courtyard walls.

Baseline Energy Page:

Courtyards will also impact the Baseline Energy model by reducing the total floor area, each room removed from the building thermal envelope will be deducted from the total.


For calculations in EnergyPlus, the Courtyards are outdoor space, leading to all walls, doors, and windows leading into them having external exposure for conduction, solar heat gains, and infiltration.

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