How Proper Building Design Can Heat Your Home

How much do we truly know about passive solar and how it works? Basically, passive solar is a design incorporated into the construction of a building, aimed at the accumulating solar energy and distributing it into the home as heat during winter or the cold season. During the heat of summer, it also regulates heat and prevents it from reaching excessive levels. As mentioned, it is worked into the design of the home or the building before construction has even started, so it’s not something you can add on later as a building improvement and structural addition.

Passive Solar Design

The first consideration when thinking of integrating a passive solar energy system into the building is its general location and design with respect to the sun. How much of the sun’s solar power would the house be exposed to in a specific location? Will the angle of the roof and the building, as a whole, enable it to have full advantage of the sun’s solar energy? Geography plays a significant role in any building design with passive solar energy in mind, and this is apparent in how homes in the northern hemisphere are normally built to face the south in order to get more than enough amount of sunlight.

The interior of the home will also have to be carefully thought over, especially the structural relationships among the ceiling, walls, and the windows. They should be designed to be flexible in coping with changes in temperature as well as the seasons. How much insulation do the ceiling and roof provide to regulate heat and cold? Are the walls as capable of warding off the cold and keeping the heat in without trapping it to high levels?

During summer, the sun is at its peak, so having a sloping roof and an overhang or wide awnings on windows will provide much needed shade and protection against heat when it gets too warm. However, during winter, when sunlight is limited, tall vertical windows built facing towards the south will ensure that the home still gets enough sunlight.

Other Important Considerations in Passive Design

I’ve already mentioned about insulation earlier in passing. Now let us dig deeper. In order to allow circulation of air currents inside the building, the walls and the roof have to be designed with vents. Aside from vents, certain thermal materials will have to be fabricated into the building itself so as to regulate heat accordingly, as the seasons and temperature changes. In this way, warm air will be kept within the interiors of the building during the cold season, but during the warmth of summer it will also be able to escape easily instead of being trapped inside.

Many countries in the world now recognize the benefits of using passive solar techniques in providing heating. Even the homes in Scotland, where it is particularly cold and rainy most days of the year, have been found to derive 15% of their heating from solar energy. If this trend continues, not only will it slow down the depletion of other energy sources currently being used, it will also lower the current costs being personally spent by people on energy consumption. It is a global concern, so it follows that this solution also has a global impact.

Green Building Design Must Guide Our Future Building Policies

Green building design will become a much sought-after specialty as the Western world is forced to address the affordability of its housing for the average home owner. As we concentrate on the rates of consumption and the sizes of our homes to address some of the many problems of climate change, we expect to find solutions that can both meet our expectations while reducing our impact on the environment.

Trend To Larger Homes

When countries experience financial booms, home sizes typically grow larger, demanding more and more energy to support the lifestyle. Thanks to the mineral resources boom, there has been a noticeable trend to larger size homes in Australia, which has been coupled with a trend to smaller sized families living in those homes.

We are developing patterns of living that are increasingly unaffordable and definitely unsustainable. In a paper entitled ‘Affordability through Modesty’ Dr. Linley Lutton clearly shows we are heading the wrong way. He looks at how we may start to undo the damage of wasteful patterns of development and increase density while making homes more affordable. The use of low energy or green building designs are a step forward in making homes future-proofed against the climate change problem.

Pressure For Continual Growth

One hot political issue worldwide is population growth.The fact that modern economies are based largely in continual population growth to maintain their economic growth is a major problem in itself. Given the destruction of natural habitats and depletion of the earth’s resources, if one looks at it logically, it is a self-defeating strategy.

It stands to reason that this approach will come to an end. Are we going to wait until we have destroyed the natural world beyond repair and thus create mass extinctions of human populations? Or are we going to look ahead and take intelligent steps to make this a truly sustainable world for life on earth by striking the right balance?

Dr. Lutton has shown in addressing climate change, what many specialists in the solar energy industry have known for a long time. Our large building companies have been simply responding to the increasing expectations of the populace and putting pressure on government planning agencies to allow them to do so. In the end nobody wins.

The Meaning Of Sustainability

In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development, a U.N. body entrusted to report the environment and the impact of buildings on the environment, first termed the concept of true ‘sustainability’. Although at that time the term ‘sustainability’ included ‘ecological’ and ‘ecologically sustainable development’, the accepted meaning of ‘sustainability’ has since been corrupted and watered-down.

In his talk ‘Project Homes Big House-Small House’, Dr. Lutton describes the issues in explicit terms and offers solutions as an urban designer and planner. His presentation looks at successful models of the past and how we have destroyed the whole notion of public interest through unbridled consumption.

Green Building Design Is More Than Solar Panels

If we are to have any chance of addressing climate change we must realize that it is not sufficient to place a number of solar panels on the roof or hook up to a nuclear reactor. True green building design goes much further than this. Over 50% of greenhouse gases in the modern economies are produced from our built environments and its associated infrastructure. We simply will not solve the potential catastrophic future resulting from climate change if we do to change our building culture. Over half of the built environment comprises housing and therefore, the way we live, the patterns of our housing development and our rates of consumption, will determine greatly our future existence on this planet.

We need to change the way our society thinks in relation to our housing.

As we adapt our built environment to live more economically, with less consumption of materials, we need to integrate green building design principles and utilize solar and low energy technologies to complete the picture.

In so doing we should, over time, reduce our dependence on carbon-polluting energy sources by over 50%. Reducing the peak load demand will enable a more economically viable transition to new clean energy sources.