Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Designing with the environment to create habitable and energy efficient spaces does not mean one needs to rely on new techniques but rather to study the past and learn what has worked for others.

Because most in California now live in badly designed stucco boxes that have ignored environmental concerns such as orientation and solar screening most homes now contribute to both energy and aesthetic pollution.

The following are homes designed to respect the environment.

For most of California buildings should be oriented with the long dimension of the building on an east west axis with the majority of the windows/openings on the south or north facing walls while minimizing them on west facing walls. Overhangs, Porches, Verandas should be placed on the southern side of the buildings to shade windows/openings. Classically breakfast rooms should be placed facing east. High ceilings with fans, and operable high windows (thermal chimney) or whole house fans will help cool homes in the summer while fans may circulate hot air to lower spaces in the winter. These few simple design concepts will save energy and help to create a more elegantly designed structure that responds to the environment. Where local condition dictate and the weather is not extreme, such as right at the ocean, these basic concepts can be moderated.

Orientation, Solar Shading and Thermal Chimneys