Passive solar design and architecture may seem like a distant dream in our fast paced modern world, but in reality it’s more of a modern revival of a style of energy efficient building that has been around for millennia. What once seemed to be common sense ideas for designing a house that could both keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter has somehow been forgotten since we started to overuse the planet’s resources on our own comforts. When heating a house took lots of effort it was the wise choice to design a building that could use the energy provided by the sun in the most advantageous ways. Unfortunately, in my opinion, since all we have to do now to heat our house is a turn a dial and pay the bills, many of the simplest ways to cut down on our rising energy consumption have been completely disregarded. Fossil fuels allowed people to provide artificial light and temperatures. This meant that houses could be built without paying attention to the natural world. However, as more and more people agree that fossil fuels will almost certainly run out sometime in the next century, there has been a growing revival in passive solar design. Here, I hope to show you some of the basic principles of passive solar design and how they helped people thousands of years ago in an effort to make people understand how these ancient techniques can be improved on today to help with our growing energy problem.
It wasn’t just one or two ancient cultures that used solar design; in fact almost all ancient civilizations used some form of solar design. Past civilizations evolved architectural styles that took advantage of the natural space conditioning effect of the sun, wind and water to keep their room...
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...from some of these ancient civilizations and planning cities around energy efficiency and passive solar design is a great way to take action and start to head in the right direction. As H.G Wells said: “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.”
Chiras, Daniel D., The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling, Chelsea Green
Publishing Co., White River Junction, VT. 2002
Hastings, Robert S., The Evolution of Solar Architecture.
Solar Architecture: A Historical Perspective
Solar Evolution: The History of Solar Energy
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