Passive Solar Design
The greenest, most-advanced buildings incorporate passive solar design features.
Passive solar design is tough. Or is it? Actually, many early 1900s buildings incorporate passive solar features much better than today's best LEED buildings. They are oriented for maximum daylighting in each space, and often have skylights. The thermal mass of the masonry carries heat into the night during winter, allowing boilers to shut off. Some even have passive ventilation stacks with venturi-caps. Because energy then was expensive and unreliable, the fact is that many 100+ year old buildings are designed to be more energy efficient than so-called green buildings of today.
One technical goal of the Sustainability movement is to bring net-zero energy buildings to a reality. These buildings would be ultra-energy efficient and any energy requirements would be met by renewable energy. As we stated earlier, we target and regularly find 30% energy savings in existing energy use. With high energy prices, technological development and good decisions made in the design and construction stage, new buildings could probably achieve even greater savings. That said, for a net-zero building, this still leaves a considerable amount of energy to be supplied by renewable systems, which is expensive.
Go Sustainable Energy believes that net-zero energy buildings should become a reality in the coming years, and that to do so economically will require new design methods. Or borrowing from old, proven methods. One of these is the integration of passive solar design into new buildings. Integrating our insights and energy expertise with a team of knowledgeable architects, HVAC engineers and active solar companies, net-zero energy buildings can become a reality.