Tag Archives: passive solar design

Solar Glass: Turning Any Window into an Energy Generating Panel

Photo-voltaic modules (otherwise known as solar panels) have been around for a while, allowing us to use sunlight as a source of energy. The issue with solar panels is that they need sufficient space on rooftops or on the ground to produce enough energy for them to be worth it, space that is limited in big cities. In recent years, companies have been working on a solution to this problem: solar glass (often referred to as “solar windows”), which can turn windows into power-generating panels. Continue reading

Building Responses to Heat Events

Climate-Proofing Buildings Against Excessive Heat
There are several options to implement climate-proofing of buildings with respect to excessively high temperatures. Such options relate to building design including the use of IT technologies to optimize thermal comfort and those involving building envelopes, including roof, wall, doors, windows and solar control glazing enhancements. Continue reading

Casas Em Movimento Solar Homes

Casas Em Movimento, a project from a Portuguese firm, means Moving Houses. The idea behind the project is to turn a house into an architectural sunflower that rotates in order to maximize the amount of solar energy it receives. This technology was developed at the University of Porto, Faculty of Architecture. Continue reading

Natural Building Ventilation

Historically, all buildings were ventilated naturally. In modern buildings, many of the opportunities for natural ventilation have been compromised by placement of interior partition walls and reliance on mechanical systems. With an increased awareness of the cost and environmental impacts of energy use, natural ventilation has become an increasingly attractive method for reducing energy use and cost and for providing acceptable indoor environmental quality and maintaining a healthy, comfortable, and productive indoor climate rather than the more prevailing approach of using mechanical ventilation. Continue reading

Solar Shading Devices: What You Need to Know

When the ambient temperature within a building is within or above the comfort zone, any additional heating of the interior due to solar gain will result in discomfort. Architects therefor design solar shading devices to prevent this. However, at cool times of the year, it is generally desirable to allow solar radiation to pass directly into the room to provide a useful heating effect. This response – between blocking excess gain in summer vs optimizing gain in winter- can be provided either by the shading device being moveable, or by it being geometrically selective. Continue reading

How California’s New Solar Mandate Will Affect Homeowners

In 2018, the California Building Standards Commission approved a mandate requiring all new homes under three stories in the state of California to install solar panels. This solar roof mandate, which is the first of its kind in the United States, will go into effect on January 1, 2020. Continue reading

Solar Incentives in California

Solar panels on  house

Solar Rebates and Tax Credits
California is far and away the most mature residential solar market in the country, which can be both a blessing and a curse in some ways. Overall, it is definitely a net positive for homeowners who live here because they are usually more informed about the intricacies of solar and the state’s solar lobby is powerful enough to fight for important savings tool such as net metering.

But the downside of the mature market is that, unlike other states like Massachusetts and South Carolina, where rebates and energy credits are used to incentivize homeowners to consider solar, California has discontinued almost all of its state-specific solar incentives because the industry is strong enough to sustain itself. Continue reading

What is Architectural Design Excellence?

mount-everest-1

In achieving architectural design excellence there are infinite Everests which beckon us: which Everest should we climb?

“The secret of architectural excellence is to translate the proportions of a dachshund into bricks, mortar and marble.”
Sir Christopher Wren, 1632-1723

There are as many criteria for defining design excellence in architecture as there are architectural designs. And climbing to the summit of design excellence is analogous to that of climbing Mount Everest. Yet in architectural design there are infinite Everests which beckon: which Everest should we climb? Continue reading

Selecting the Size of Your Solar PV System

Solar panels on newly build house

Whether your goal is to generate your own clean energy, increase your home’s appraisal value, save money on your electric bill, or all of the above—investing in a small-scale solar electric system is a wise decision. A small solar electric system—or distributed generation (DG)—can produce reliable, emission-free energy for your home or business. However, it is important to make sure that your solar photovoltaic (PV) system is correctly sized, sited, installed and maintained, in order to maximize your energy performance. Continue reading

EcoDistricts

Proposed

Proposed “SouthWest Ecodistrict”, Washington, D.C.

Originated by the City of Portland and the Portland Sustainability Institute (PoSI), the term EcoDistrict refers to a conceptual framework for planning, designing, implementing and maintaining sustainable solutions at a district level.
EcoDistricts can be thought of as geographically defined areas, such as a neighborhoods, institutional campuses, or employment districts within which flows of energy, water, nutrients, resources, information, financial capital and cultural resources are localized, integrated and synergized. Continue reading