Engineers and designers focused on sustainable design are constantly looking for ways to reduce energy usage and ultimately the carbon footprint of a building. Passive building design utilizes the building's natural environment to heat and cool the building, which provides  an optimum living temperature. Let's explore some components of passive building design below.

What is Passive Design?

Passive design is a term used to describe buildings that have been constructed to take advantage of climate in order to maintain a comfortable living temperature. The energy used to heat and cool a building accounts for nearly 40% of a building's total energy use. Through various design techniques, including building materials, orientation, and shading, a building can fully take advantage of natural surroundings to create a comfortable interior climate.


●        Orientation

The orientation of the building means that the building is positioned in a way to take advantage of sunlight or cooling breezes. For example, in most climates (aside from tropical climates) it makes sense to orient a building with living spaces facing northward. This allows for the maximum amount of sun exposure to take advantage of natural lighting, heat, and solar exposure for solar panels if applicable. Further, a northern exposure allows easy shading of the walls and windows during the summer. This creates a comfortable living environment with minimal energy usage.


●        Passive Cooling

Passive cooling is the cheapest and most energy-efficient way to cool your building. Passive cooling involves utilizing several sources, such as thermal mass, air movement, or evaporative technology, to cool your building to a comfortable temperature. It is important to know that passive cooling can be applied to both new and renovated build sites and can be used in any climate.


●        Passive Heating

Alternatively, passive heating is the cheapest and most eco-friendly way to heat a building. Solar passive heating is the process of keeping the hot summer sun out of the building and inviting the warm winter sun in. The orientation of your building plays a large role in taking advantage of solar heat. In addition, making sure that windows are sealed and insulation is sound will help tremendously when passively heating a building. Most buildings will require the use of both passive heating and cooling to take full advantage of the climate and create a comfortable living space.


●        Shading

Reducing summer temperatures is pivotal in any building. Using creative shading of outdoor spaces through the use of blinds, eaves, awnings, shutters, plantings, or pergolas can greatly reduce the amount of heat that radiates to interior spaces. Simply adding shading to your building can reduce heating caused by sun exposure by nearly 90%. Unprotected glass is a huge source of heat and can make your building hotter than it should be. However, be careful with glass coatings. The wrong type of coating will block out all light, even the desirable sunlight through winter months.


Our team of engineers at Gausman & Moore is passionate about constructing buildings that impact the environment as little as possible. Passive buildings not only reduce energy usage and cost, but help protect our environment with eco-friendly climate control. To learn more about sustainable design, contact our team today.