Some rules to reduce energy for houses III

7. Learn from the locals

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Indigenous, or vernacular, architecture tends to provide thermal comfort using limited, local resources and energy. Lessons may be learned from both the past and the present where populations live modestly, in tune with their climate and region. Always consider the local vernacular for clues about how buildings perform. Work with, not against, the forces of nature.

8. Summer shading – solutions for solar-oriented facades

The designer has a range of solutions to choose from when considering how to reduce or eliminate the potential for unwanted solar gains. Use external, not internal, shading devices as this prevents the sun`s rays from entering the building. Some solutions are:

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9. Summer shading – solutions for east – and west-facing facades

The problem is different for east-and west-facing openings. The sun is low in the sky, but it still might be strong. Some solutions are:

  • vertical fins
  • vertical ‘garden’

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10. Compact building use less energy

The greater the surface area of a building envelope, the more energy will be needed to overcome heat losses. A sphere has the smallest surface area by volume of any form, in regions where winter heating is needed, a sprawling single-storey building might use 25% more energy than a compact two-storey cube of the same floor area because it has a greater surface area through which heat is lost. A slightly elongated solar-oriented form provide the best balance between heat loss and beneficial solar gain.

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11. A green roof protects against heat loss

A thick green roof (500mm or more) will have a high thermal mass, so it will slow the passage of heat by 12 hours or more. It will also need to be insulated, so it will aid significantly in reducing heat loss through the roof. Thin green roofs (150mm of soil) will support only limited planting and 1m deep soil will be needed for small trees.

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