Heating or Cooling Your Building Naturally: Solar Architectural Solutions

July 13, 2013 - Comment

Architect Virginia Macdonald, FAIA, has written Heating or Cooling Your Building Naturally, Solar Architectural Solutions, to serve as her legacy and ode to the principles of working with nature to design comfortable buildings. Through an initial explanation of her principles and ten case studies, the author relates how vertical ventilation and controlled daylighting–to the exclusion

Architect Virginia Macdonald, FAIA, has written Heating or Cooling Your Building Naturally, Solar Architectural Solutions, to serve as her legacy and ode to the principles of working with nature to design comfortable buildings. Through an initial explanation of her principles and ten case studies, the author relates how vertical ventilation and controlled daylighting–to the exclusion of air-conditioning and daytime electric lighting–can be applied. The author explains in simple language, with photos and diagrams, how to use the sun to cool or warm a building as needed, while at the same time reducing mildew, dust, and many pathogens. The premise is simple and has been used throughout the ages in all cultures and climates: hot air rises. That’s the starting point for all the ideas and designs contained in this book, taking advantage of the natural vertical flow of air to regulate the temperature of enclosed spaces. Likewise, the documented health benefits of controlled daylighting are well-known, and the projects here described make ample use of skylights (with spectrally-selective glazing) in addition to windows, so that electric lighting is seldom needed during the day.

For first-time builders, this book will increase awareness and assist in forming the right questions to their architects. For architects and engineers, it will provoke much-needed discussion, and hopefully result in more environmentally responsive solutions. For the general reader, it will provide relief from books that only focus on how a building looks, not how it responds to the environment.

This book is not about monumental architecture, but instead pertains to the multitude of smaller buildings which make up our built environment. These are the homes we live in, the schools for our children, doctors’ offices–the buildings where we spend our lives and that, in turn, affect our climate and the very air we breathe.


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Anonymous says:

I live in northern Mexico so I buy just about any book that looks as though it might have some new /novel/ special method for cooling naturally.The title of this book ought to state clearly that the ONE method illustrated here works in large detached houses ONLY in/on Hawaii.Basically the architect uses the whole house as “chimney” with hot air rising out of the top of the house and cool air coming in at the bottom. This is a pretty tricky balance to achieve and in the case of this book and the ONE method illustrated it relies on the climate of a very nicely situated pacific island.The publishers could be a little more ethical with their choice of title.Good for President Obama’s retirement home not good for the rest of the world –Well maybe it’d work for Easter Island too?

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