The use of passive solar energy has had a role in building since ancient times. Growing concerns about how energy is generated makes passive solar energy even more important today. The amount of solar energy that reaches the earth's surface is currently 10,000 times the amount of energy consumed by the population of the planet, according to NASA. Passive solar energy provides lighting, heating and cooling without the need for energy production.
Harnessing passive solar energy is the first step in creating energy-efficient buildings. Buildings that take advantage of the natural properties of the sun reduce the need for energy generated by modern technologies. Affective daylight reduces the need for artificial light during the day and passive heating and cooling reduce dependence on mechanical systems for comfort. Strategies for using passive solar energy are dependent on where a project is located. Passive solar buildings located in hot, humid regions take advantage of cooling strategies, while buildings in colder regions make use of solar heat gain.
Mechanical equipment is costly to purchase and install. Using passive solar energy reduces the size of the equipment needed to maintain a healthy indoor environment and lowers the initial cost of a project. Harvesting passive solar energy requires little to no maintenance, making operational costs lower as well. Active solar systems degrade over time and are continuously outdated as advances are made in the industry. Passive solar energy provides an efficient alternative energy source throughout the life of the building. A lesser known cost in energy consumption is the cost it takes to physically move electrons from one place to another. This can be as much as 30 percent of the amount of energy purchased from a utility company. Passive solar energy uses direct methods of energy transfer and requires no transportation.
Quality of Life
Human biorhythms are disrupted by artificial environments which can create fatigue and reduce concentration. Exposure to daily and yearly natural cycles increases well-being and creates a healthier state of mind. Passive solar design creates buildings that depend on and incorporate natural cycles. The occupants of a passive solar building benefit from a direct connection to the natural environment.