Passive solar design

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Passive solar design

Involves using nontechnical design methods, site conditions, local climate, sun angle, building massing, orientation, and daylight to save and retain energy within buildings. Unlike technologically advanced active solar counterparts, passive solar buildings do not rely on electrical or mechanical systems, control techniques, or other devices to operate. The two basic passive solar design methods are direct gain and indirect gain.

direct solar gain

A method that relies on the orientation of the building, the location of its openings, the building’s materials and their attributes, the structure’s heat storage capabilities, and its insulation systems. In this method, sunlight is allowed to enter the building through south-facing windows. Light is absorbed directly by the thermal mass, which stores and releases the heat as the building cools.

indirect solar gain

A method that requires a buffer thermal mass between the sun and the living space to be heated, where the thermal mass buffer can be a structure, a wall system, an absorption device, and/or another space. In an indirect gain system, the thermal mass acts as a collector, absorber, and distributor of the solar energy. Thermal distribution is accomplished by conduction. There are three main types of indirect gain systems: thermal storage wall, roof water, and sunrooms.

roofwater system

A system that absorbs and transfers heat from outside to inside during the winter, and from inside to outside during the summer. In order to heat and cool a building effectively during both seasons, the water stored in tanks or pipes, along with additional treatment materials such as antifreeze, must be insulated in reverse order from winter to summer. Used primarily in commercial buildings in low-humidity climates.


A hybrid method of passive solar design, which includes the functions and benefits of both the direct and indirect gain methods. Also called “solar greenhouses” or “solariums,” sunrooms have significant advantages over other indirect gain solutions, especially because of their ability to control the level of heat within a building.

thermal storage wall

Consists of a 10- to 16-inch thick masonry wall placed on the south side of a building where it will receive the most sunlight. Dark-colored, single- or double-glazed windows cover the exterior of the wall to absorb the solar energy, which is stored and then radiated to the living area after the space cools. For other thermal wall systems, the wall thickness varies depending on the material: 10–14 inches for brick, 12–16 inches for concrete, and 8–12 inches for adobe.
References in periodicals archive ?
These tools primarily focus on monthly or annual performance and are not specifically aimed at passive solar design.
Passive solar design is consistent with the "fabric first" approach to carbon reduction set out in Welsh Government planning guidance, and this design approach has been estimated to save up to 50% of space heating costs.
Actually, I believe that if the Nile was God's gift to Egypt for real, then passive solar design is definitely his gift to Jordan.
While you won't be getting all of your heating needs met by rooftop collectors or a passive solar design such as a sunroom, you can cut the energy used for heating your home and water by nearly half or more (and chop your bills down in the process).
This will be accomplished through homeowner conservation, passive solar design, energy-efficient construction methods and materials, and on-site production of renewable energy.
Turning to books about passive solar design written in the 1970s, the couple soon had a plan.
Hawaiian Hospitality Group, Inc (Pink Sheets: HHGI), a US-based company that provides sustainable land use solutions and event services, has announced a marketing plan to use green engineering products that conserve natural resources via passive solar design and solar power systems.
While Appendix G requires that the baseline be taken as the average of the model calculated for four orientations (as designed plus 90, 180, and 270 degree rotations), no direct credit is given for buildings truly designed with passive solar design principles.
Known as Unity House, the home uses a mixture of photovoltaic solar panels for generating electricity and a separate solar hot water system, along with an extremely tight, super-insulated building envelope and passive solar design elements.
Energy strategies include passive solar design (window size, placement and tuning, paired with large calculated overhangs), natural daylighting (light from two sides of all major rooms, and a giant Kalwall skylight at the core), natural cooling (operable windows on two sides of all major rooms), and thermal mass at the core (three-story stone wall).
Weatherford Place's homes are oriented for ideal solar collection capacity, and their passive solar design includes careful attention to a critical ratio of glazing to square footage.