Talk:Passive solar building design

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Text to be merged from Passive Solar Heating[edit]

Passive Solar Heating uses building design techniques which incorporate into the building ways in which the heat from sunlight is used to heat the structure. A trombe wall is one such technique. Passive solar building often use massive materials such as stone, concrete, and adobe.
Many key techinques of utilizing passive solar heating involve controlling the amount of sunlight transmitted within the building during different seasons. In temperate Northern zones, buildings are constructed with few windows on the Northern side and large, wide windows on the Southern side. Thus, when in summer the Sun's rays come from further north, the building will be shaded, whereas in the winter more sunlight will shine through the windows.

(The directions are, of course, reversed in the Southern Hemisphere.) Similarly, awnings or overhangs may be angled so as to block out summer sunlight while permitting winter sunlight to pass through. Deciduous trees planted on the windowed side of the house will likewise shade it during the summer while allowing more sunlight in the winter.

Note - I added the whole second paragraph, and won't mind a bit if it's chopped wholesale as redundant with the main article. -- April

Merge with passive house was bogus[edit]

The recent merge of passive house was bogus. de:Passivhaus describes a building standard that uses some of ideas described in passive solar. That standard (and others that define even stricter categories) are popular terms in several countries. Note that this article now has two outgoing interwiki links going to the German WP. Geez, we might as well merge this and all related articles into house. Rl 12:13, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

Alright, I undid the merge. Both articles need work. Rl 12:21, 11 August 2005 (UTC)

Passive Solar Design[edit]

wouldn't that be a better name for the article? --naught101 04:06, 7 November 2005 (UTC)

solar technologies[edit]

are they really cost effective --

That's not a very meaningful question. Wheat, corn and cocoa are grown using solar technologies, so the answer is yes. njh 08:48, 20 February 2006 (UTC)
Yes. Passive solar adds 15% to the cost of a temperate-climate house, and reduces the heating bill by 90% or more. (In milder climates the only cost is the design.) It adds more than 20% to the value of a house. There was some development (in Novato CA?) that tested the marketing. Passive solar is not even very interesting engineering anymore. The Europeans have building codes that assume it (See Passive house) Ray Van De Walker 06:54, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

first passive solar house in the US[edit]

The first passive solar house in the US was designed in 1940 by George F. Keck for a Chicago area real estate developer named Howard Sloan. Keck had designed an all-glass house for the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago and was surprised to find that it was warm inside on sunny winter days, even though the furnace hadn't been installed yet. Keck was not aware of the research being done elsewhere on solar architecture, but he gradually started incorporating more south-facing windows into his designs for other clients, and by 1940 he had learned enough to design a passive solar house for Sloan.

I'm puzzled that it took so long. Conservatories were a standard feature in edwardian manors in the last 19th C. Surely other people had attached greenhouses they used for heating?--njh 23:30, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

Thoughts on cleanup and where this article needs to head.[edit]

  1. Plenty of people here dont know what the words 'passive' and 'solar' mean. This is not a general article on 'sustainability in architecture'.
  2. Please provide sources for your data. Otherwise it should really be deleted. Several statistics on this page were unsourced, and probably came from very one sided sources.
  3. Most importantly, what we need here is an explanation of the principles of passive solar design and the circumstances in which different techniques may be used, rather than launching into specifics of how these may be applied in specific situations ('One technique buries water-proof insulation in 7-metre skirts around the foundation, and buries loops of plastic pipe or ducts under the foundations and slab', etc.).
  4. Where do the lists of 'types' and 'techniques' come from? Who says there are 3 of each?
  5. why do we have that example there? is it even part of What wikipedia is?

Any comments please provide. Otherwise i'll probably do some more cleanup/editing myself Miscreant 07:15, 25 July 2006 (UTC)

  1. Radiative heat transfer.

The article states that heat is transfered from a warmer object to a cooller one by radiation. This is incorrect. Energy is transferred both ways. Ie the cooler object is also radiating heat to the hotter one, heat is being transferred both ways. The hotter body is radiating more heat of course. This is very elementary. This is a technical subject the writer seems to have no technical background. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:28, 7 April 2010 (UTC)


The article on Passive Solar Design has straight-forward and easy to understand content. The introduction and graphics are noteworthy. The referencing begins out strong, but ends up overall minimal. A citation is needed in the "Pragmatic Passive Solar Energy Use" section. I got lost in the section entitled, "Minimal Machinery" because of the wealth of undefined terms. The article ended strong with a reference to noted solar designers. Sierra 00:49, 15 March 2007

Major re-edit[edit]

The content has been widely expanded and includes some useful information. However, there are several examples of subjective and non-factual phrases that are peacock or weasel words that undermine the quality and objectivity of the article. 'Arguably the best', 'The worst', 'is not difficult', 'state of the art', 'bright and cheerful', 'full of bad habits', 'extremely bad', 'uninformed','superior solution', 'many ways', 'really CLUNKY', 'lack of motivation'. The facts should speak for themselves and the reader should be able to arrive at their own conclusions. There is also use of capitalization to emphasize points that is not appropriate for an encyclopaedia. The article reads less like an encyclopaedia entry and more like a opinion piece. The format suspiciously follows the Zero Energy Design website which appears to be a commercial site and incorporate information found elsewhere on Wikipedia.

Dymonite (talk) 06:30, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Agreed wholeheartedly. This article is beyond the point of ridiculous. The problem of course is that there are far too many people contributing information that they think adds to the article, but really just confuses and obfuscates from anyone reading the article actually comprehending the subject matter. Miscreant (talk) 11:03, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Some of the unencylopaedic language as been improved in the last series of edits but it still reads like an editorial. It would be helpful for the author with ISP to log in prior to his entries and to sign the discussion/talk page with 4 tildes to ensure the flow of the discussion.

Dymonite (talk) 09:07, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Trombe Wall[edit]

I disagree with pushing the obsolete problematic Trombe wall It is a historical reference, but not recommended in today's passive solar building design. Escientist (talk) 16:18, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

there are only two inline references to the trombe wall in the article. i don't see how that can be interpreted as "pushing" the technology. the inline text also notes that it's obsolete (your addition?). Anastrophe (talk) 18:01, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Ongoing clean up effort[edit]

I am actively trying to clean up some of the previous, valid, editorial comments on this potentially-valuable Wikipedia page. I see some of what clearly needs to be done, but I have a finite amount of time to work on it for free. I think the request to expand "Sun Path" is a good idea, and I have plenty of resources to do so. If you are a qualified subject matter expert with specific suggestions, details or feelings, I would enjoy collaborating with you. Please see my profile Escientist (talk) 16:26, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

as long as all added material is properly sourced, you'll find that your fellow editors will welcome your contributions, and collaboration. please note also that new comments on talk pages are traditionally added to the bottom of the page. I've refactored this section with that in mind. Anastrophe (talk) 17:56, 2 January 2008 (UTC)

Other passive solar design techniques[edit]

Whilst modelling software may help in achieving an optimal solution, I think the tone of the article suggests passive solar is high-tech and generally in-accessible to the mainstream building industry. In most medium density developments there are a number of other constraints which prevent reduce the ability to achieve a perfect arrangement e.g. block size and orientation, obstructions, building regulations, owner's needs and preferences. Successful passive solar buildings have been built based only on a set of rule of thumbs and a little local research without resorting to computer algorithms. Perhaps some references to these principles i.e. orientation angles and latitudes, glazing areas/ratios, prevailing winds, climactic zone classifications, eave length calculations would be useful. It would be far better if a large proportion of residences were designed around good principles than a small proportion making full use of computer software.Dymonite (talk) 00:31, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

Zero Energy Building[edit]

I think a point needs to be made that ZEB is a completely integrated application of passive solar principles but other passive solar houses make variable use of all the available concepts and technologies.

It may worthwhile knowing if the effects are purely additive or synergistic (with appropriate data supplied to indicate this)Dymonite (talk) 00:07, 7 January 2008 (UTC)


The recent edit, which stated that conductive/convective insulation is used to reduce radiant heat flow, was scientifically incorrect. Radiant barriers (like aluminimum foil) are often VERY conductive. Fiberglass insulation (spun glass) is translucent to radiation (afterall, it is just glass). Different insulation types must be used in different applications (upward, downward, and horizontal heat transfer). Radiation is by far more important is hot climates than conduction or convection. I added this earlier, but it was deleted. Please, if you do not understand the science, let's discuss it here before you insert any more false statements, or delete valid ones. Escientist (talk) 14:26, 15 January 2008 (UTC)

Just an ambiguous statement on my part. I meant to say don't mismatch the modes of transfer - for instance using a convective insulator to stop radiant barrier. Building insulation explains this in more detail.Dymonite (talk) 09:19, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Direct vs indirect vs isolated gain strategies[edit]

There are some controversies surrounding this topic. Direct gain is the simplest and most intuitive of passive solar designs. Indirect and isolated gain are more complex systems which are reliant on adequate heat storage and distribution to function effectively. Heat distribution systems have been designed passively (natural convection) or actively (forced convection). There appears to a scarcity of research on direct comparisons for each design and their relative efficiencies or cost-effectiveness. On other occasions there are mixed reports on the benefits of certain designs e.g. double envelope (double shell, thermal envelope, thermal buffer zone) and this needs to be shown. Dymonite (talk) 09:07, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

The current section currently needs clean-up to ensure any information is supported by robust primary research and be equally balanced by positive and negative reportsDymonite (talk) 09:12, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Lee Porter Butler's Double Shell thermal envelope design received wide publicity after the U.S. solar energy tax credits were created in 1978. Versions were on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens and Popular Science magazines. Lee misunderstood how and why his accidental discovery worked. He had an (unnecessary) rock bed under the house to store daytime heat (it actually interfered with the geothermal effect). He used a lot of inefficient roof-angled glass, which created a solar furnace in the summer and lost heat in the winter. He often had a south-side porch that shaded the lower floor where solar gain was needed the most. He wasted a foot-and-a-half of space for the double north wall. He created a fire hazard. He used a fireplace that drew in unconditioned outside air for combustion, and exhausted heat up the chimney. He also falsely claimed that it would work everywhere (which is obviously false near the poles). He was discredited by scientific performance monitoring. I corrected 100% of Butler's design erros in my first Zero Energy Home (that I built for myself in 1979), and became the largest exhibitor and most popular speaker in the National Energy Expos three decades ago, and the latest DOE / ORNL International Buildings Conference Passive Solar Heating and Cooling Workshop.

This information would be ideal for the Wikipedia's Passive Solar HistoryDymonite (talk) 01:46, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Due to the bad press that Butler generated, I do not advertise "double shell", but my work is an extension and refinement of it. I don't want to bring up the Butler controversy again, since I have NEVER designed in ANY of his documented errors, although natural convection is the very best known way to transport excess heat from a solarium to the cold side of a building in the winter, AND it acts as a thermal buffer zone (TBZ) year round - "Two small delta T's are better than one large delta T." The TBZ is self regulating by pressure differentials created when warm air rises and cool (more dense) air falls. It is the superinsulating effect of the double shell TBZ that explains why indirect solar gain is far superior to any direct solar gain envelope design pattern.

On a clear winter day, my pant legs flap in a strong breeze next to a 50 foot long, one-foot-high air vent. My swimming pool room solarium transports over 2 million BTU's of heat to make the north side of my first ZEB home toasty warm. I figured I would never get this info past the current Wikipedia editors in a useful form. Passive Solar Energy Info Maybe someone else wants to try. The precise details are explained in many diagrams on my 800-page Zero Energy Design eBook and hundreds of DOE / ORNL workshop slides Escientist (talk) 14:05, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Some have argued that the part of the efficiency of this is also related to the higher combined R-values of the two sections. There needs to be mention of additional cost for double envelope systems and its generalizability and scalability to all projects. e.g. Would the above design be just as effective without the thermal mass of the swimming pool or in any climate. It would be easier to get this into Wikipedia if it is shown that this model has been validated by independent measurement data. Perhaps we need to have separate section on once-off experimental designs which have shown anecdotal success but there are no other examples to validate the design in all conditions and situations. There also should be some comments about the challenges or issues with such a design.Dymonite (talk) 01:38, 17 January 2008 (UTC)
It would be easier to get this into Wikipedia if it is shown that this model has been validated by independent measurement data. Perhaps we need to have separate section on once-off experimental designs which have shown anecdotal success but there are no other examples to validate the design in all conditions and situations. There also should be some comments about the challenges or issues with such a design.Dymonite (talk) 01:38, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

The higher combined R-value is most certainly correct, but the TBZ is also tempered by solar gain in the winter daytime, and by ambient Earth heat from under the floor (and any added thermal mass) on winter nights. My 1979 swimming pool home used R 0.9 single pane patio door glass, on the outside AND inside of the solarium. Many of my home designs have a hot tub, swim spa, or narrow swimming pool in the multi-purpose solarium.A movable walk-on floor usually covers any interior water features, to control interior humidity. The temperature of my solariums usually never dropped below 59-to-60 degrees F when it was -10 outside, and it never once got above 88, when it was 110 outside. The performance of the very-low-cost TBZ is outsdanding, AND it is key to the thermal performance of all of my many proven designs.

In the summer, top vents are opened and ambient temperature Earth is used to cool and dehumidify fresh intake air from under the floor. The TBZ (including the attic) never reaches the peak outside air temperature. My application of heat transfer science is certainly not a one-off accident. I've designed hundreds of successful ones in the last three decades, with iterative refinementes each time. I have NEVER designed a home that has conventional utility bills. Over 100,000 homes demonstrate at least a small portion of the design patterns that I use.

I have no personal motivation to fight the Wikipedia editors and have them then dilute and invalidate many of my statements on this subject. My 800-page book and DOE Workshop slides do the best job I could without other peoples' "help." I've donated the basics of my acquired skills to Wikipedia, but my popular published details and construction diagrams are copyrighted internationally. I do train others in how to apply them, but not for free. My book is my life's work legacy that others may use to build a better tomorrow. My material on Wikipedia is merely a trivial topical intro, which has been hard enough to make available so far. No one can say I did not at least try. Escientist (talk) 08:02, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Passive Annual Heating Storage (PAHS)[edit]

Like above this issue is controversial. The designs are based on theoretical grounds that solar energy can be stored over the course of one season to be released at another. The designs generally use high thermal mass or earth-coupled/earth-bermed buildings. There are some anecdotal reports of high efficiency but not not much formal measurement data to validate this. Again better evidence needs to be cites to describe this.Dymonite (talk) 12:17, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Solar path technical corrections[edit]

Recent edits to my original material in the "Solar path fundamentals" section introduced several inaccurate statements. I have corrected these errors in my most recent edit Escientist (talk) 13:30, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

Double Shell History[edit]

OK, you talked me into it. I added a generic public-domain summary version of Lee Porter Butler's work, and my own refinements to it in "Passive solar design history", as published by the DOE and ORNL. If you want to hack it to pieces (as often happens to my contributions) go ahead - I won't waste the time to enter it twice. If you want to start a talk: page about it, let me know, and maybe "we" can refine it to meet editorial standards, without eliminating the relavant requested content altogether. It is just a high-level summary, not low-level details and diagrams. Escientist (talk) 09:42, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

Experimental / Prototype architecture[edit]

I suggest that any specific designs which have not had formal evaluation should not be included as part of this article. A casual reader may be mislead into believing that they would be able to reproduce these results.

see for an example of a very strict protocol for evaluation.

These examples may need further validation:

John Hait's "Passive Annual Heat Storage" (PAHS) method Water walls and roof ponds Australian deep-cover earthed-roof Don Stephens' "Annualized Geo-Solar" (AGS) heating Thermal Buffer Zone / zero Energy buildingDymonite (talk) 15:02, 17 January 2008 (UTC)

See also Passive solar design history[edit]

Passive solar design history used to be part of Passive solar building design.

It was moved into its own article.

I added an obviously-reasonable link from Passive solar building design to Passive solar design history, but it was deleted with no talk: or explaination.

I find this extremely curious, and I re-inserted the necessary link. How are readers to know that the new article was recently created, if not by such a link from its original source?

Please explain and discuss the reason you think this link is not necessary or inappropriate.

Escientist (talk) 15:59, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

There is a link to the article, now known as History of passive solar building design, in the "See also" section. Style-wise it did not fit well in the intro. If you want it there, make sure you integrate it properly with the flow of the content. Barrylb (talk) 16:10, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

"a biomass heating system" IN A ZEB?[edit]

Someone added this bad idea to the passive solar building design text. Presumably they are referring to a high-pollution wood-burning fireplace, which pollutes the air, contributes significantly to global warming, normally results in a reduction of trees that sequester CO2 and release pure oxygen.

Getting rid of burning biomass by 2 billion people worldwide is a goal. No one should encourage deforestation, especially not using wood as a fuel in any building, and in particular NOT in a "green" ZEB. I know of no true ZEB with a biomass heating system. If a building has one, it is by definition not "green."

A typical fireplace draws a large volume of conditioned interior out of the building, forcing unconditioned replacement air to be drawn in. Fireplace leaks (even in those that use outside air for combustion) do this 7/24/365.

With your permission, I will delete this addition in a few days, unless someone has a good reason not to.

It is possible to closely manage biomass as a renewable resource, but it seldom is. Global deforestation is a serious ongoing environmental, and global warming, issue.

Escientist (talk) 15:59, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

If you want to keep adding the statement that biomass should be used in a ZEB, PLEASE justify your opinion and negotiate consensus here. Otherwise, I contend that burning biomass is completely contrary to the fundamental objectives of a zero energy building, AND passive solar building design. See the article on Biofuel. Escientist (talk) 20:33, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Roof-angled glass[edit]

Please STOP deleting the references to western and roof-angled glass. They are the most significant design flaw of new passive solar designers, who do not understand the relationship between seasonal and daily sun path, and the angle of incidence of solar radiation to glazing. If you do not understand this critical passive solar design issue, we can discuss it here, or see for an example of solar gain and heat loss precise numbers and diagrams from the U.S. Department of Energy. Escientist (talk) 20:34, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Solar Furnace / "Heliocaminus"[edit], please check the History section in Solar furnace. The original use of the Greek term "heliocaminus" (which means "solar furnace") referred to glass-enclosed rooms where solar energy made them hotter than the outside air temperature. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Escientist (talkcontribs) 12:04, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Turning lengthy "See Also" section into lists[edit]

I noticed the long See Also section. The list here and in sustainable design seem like valuable means to navigate all the information on energy efficient buildings and solar concepts, however, they're rather cumbersome tacked onto already lengthy articles. I don't have much experience with this, but I think making lists like passive solar design concepts or low-energy(sustainable?) building design concepts might help people navigate better. Any comments? Muffinon (talk) 01:32, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

It has been suggested that this article be merged with Passive solar.  --Lambiam 12:31, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Yes, please merge. I'm sorry that I don't have the time to contribute to it, but I fully support the merge. LK (talk) 15:24, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Oppose: I agree with moving most of the information from that article to this (they currently talk about the same thing), but I think a separate article is needed (albeit a short one) for 'Passive Solar' to talk about things that make use of passive solar energy other than buildings (eg. solar cookers). Miscreant (talk) 07:51, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Oppose: I agree with Miscreant - passive solar should introduce the concept of passive solar power and the 'devices' that exploit it - an entirely different topic from 'building design' (though passive solar building design may make use of 'some' passive solar devices). To combine them would be rather like combining rechargeable battery with electric car. Finally, passive solar also is needed as a counterpoint to active solar (which also doesn't only apply to buildings). (talk) 23:46, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Oppose: There are enough other passive solar devices. Mion (talk) 17:37, 18 October 2009 (UTC)
Oppose: Applies to things other than buildings. T34CH (talk) 18:47, 24 October 2009 (UTC)
At least there should be more about the types of design, and the article should link to those. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:47, 11 October 2010 (UTC)
Oppose: Passive solar is a counter argument to active solar and does not exclusively relate to buildings. I suggest expanding Passive solar to include solar cooker and parabolic reflector as well as other examples of passive solar. Let the section of passive solar be an exhaustive category unto itself. December 1, 2010 Ch0pstick( (talk) 16:22, 1 December 2010 (UTC))

retractable shade : image[edit]

we have a rectractble shade that works well. But I can't insert the image <sigh> correctly.It's here : [[Image:Retractable_shade.jpg|thumb|150px|right|Retractable shade Feroshki (talk) 02:50, 11 April 2010 (UTC)

I see the image has been cut, due to some problem with documentation, it seems. I have uploaded original pics before , not often, but they were OK. I am at a loss how to satisfy the requirement, as cannot comprehend the ( very elaborate) procedures. Grateful any help Feroshki (talk) 07:05, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

Passive Energy Definitions Comments and Suggestions[edit]

The reasoning for keeping Passive Solar distict from building design could also help to better define "passive solar." In being put on the spot to define Passive Energy for others, I have to know what's offered on Wikipedia. Very few of you who know better seem happy with the given state of terms and definitions of Passive on Wikipedia.(or anywhere else?) The needed understanding of Passive (for short to defer to your term and mine) is so incredibly important to understanding both Energy and Sustainability, and it is kingpin to allowing innovations in both to get applied as needed.

A full sense of what Passive is, is necessary to overcome the problems inherent to having our cultural wisdom maintain that Energy is equivalent to Fuel. How many examples have you seen lately of legitimate, easily-recognized sources calling fuel, "energy"? Too many? Kudos to all of you who struggle to define Passive, still listed here as starter level, b-level, and of limited importance. I have collected a list of renamings of Passive too long to share. (ranging from "natural energy" to "radical energy efficiency") Can't we define Passive as all of the energy that is NOT Fuel? This non-fuel energy, this Energy described by very basic physical science, is most of the energy life on our planet actually experiences, and at least most of the energy human needs actually demand. It's only in the face of the erroneous expectation that Fuel is the only Energy we need, (a very destructive expectation indeed) that Passive Energy so difficult to define, much less prove the value of.

Passive should be defined in usage that does not convert the energy to a manipulatable "middleman" such as electricity. Converting the sunlight to some other format that is not implored in final usage should be defined as active usage. So sunlight to heat is passive. I should seek to pursue a more formal definition and return to post. December 1, 2010 Chopstick ( (talk) 16:32, 1 December 2010 (UTC))

It seems obstacles to clarity about Passive Energy occurs most where building development has happened in fast, large scale, mass-produced commodified uniformity, specificlly the USA. Passive is much more normal in Australia, Europe and the Middle East. Passive building strategies require more individualized responses to many factors, including individual climates, and solar orientations. Some Passive failures have occured when utilized like an off-the-shelf item, which it inherently is opposed to being. A sense of Passive is a sense of navigating specific context, and harnessing existing natural energy to the advantage (rather than the disadvantage) of what the human person needs: it is energy judo.

While the last most recent building boom came along with the advent of CAD, it seems the copyclip power of the computer empowered then an overall homogenizing effect on building, even while easily available software can integrate precise individualized solar response. Now is the time to promote a better understanding of Passive, (sometimes called climate responsive) design so the technology and resource we have can get more thoughtfully applied to more sustainable development.

It is because, as the DOE EIA data shows, buildings contribute considerably more to emmissions and consumption than cars, we need to know and understand and apply more Passive Energy strategies so that renewables are able to meet all our energy needs. In terms of buildings, then, it can said that the vacuum of understanding of Passive is the hole renewables stand in, too low to meet human needs. A robust awareness of Passive energy can fill and boost the effectiveness of renewables to surpass human needs in the building sector, and be available to support the industry and transportation sectors. This is described in Ed Mazria's challenges to the field of architecture, Ed Mazria being the Author of my Passive college textbooks.

Pointing out Ed Mazria's initiatives and imperatives in an attempt to give leadership to the role of architecture is to give the case of why Passive is so very very important. Having said that, and having one view of how Passive has played out in architecture, and having seen for myself how people with the highest levels of prestige and acceptance in this field have not gotten "traction" handing down what they have strived to test, quantify, report and legitimize, I wish you at wikipedia could help with whats missing: Fifth grade science. Please. Do not try to define Passive Energy primarily with specific building examples. Except as impetus as to how important Passive energy is, dont go into all architectural applications as examples.

Passive energy, non-fuel energy, if you will, has to do with the energy that the Laws of Conservation of Energy applies to: energy is neither created nor destroyed: Energy changes forms, is transferred, is how matter changes through the physical states of solid, liquid, and gas. Energy is running around all over the place, its our job to marshall it: Radiant energy passing through glass will change to nonvisible heat energy. (the greenhouse effect) Buildings, as well as organisms, will always be gaining and losing heat through conduction, convection, and radiation. If we are reminded of the three phases of matter: solid, liquid, and gas, we can better remember what facilitates conduction (solids, and liquids,some),what facilitates convection (fluids like liquid or gas)and that radiation will occur over any distance of vacuum where no solid or liquid barrier is present to adequately interrupt it. Another term I heard for Passive was Thermal Response: Passive is all the array of dealing with heat transfer, conduction, convection, and radiation, with an emphasis on conduction and radiation, to marshall in an advantageous direction, the energy we are always awash in.

I personally have witnessed one top energy expert's recommendations being presented to clients, to the highest standards of  professional and academic presentation, being honored with green awards,with the authors name and position  brandished around, while far too much of that work was not applied because too few else understood what heat transfer through radiation was. You don't gain prestige as an expert taking people to school over third grade science, but you need that prestige to leverage to be the one to make recommendations.  Needless to say, the  top experts in this feild can get angsty, and that frustration can be detected by laypeople as uncertainty. 

What is needed of the rest of us is to stop arguing over specific architectural applications that could be executed a myriad of ways once a strategy is set upon. There exists very high level expertise and computers are an enormous asset. But for all this to get applied, the basic heat transfer principles need to be owned much more widely culturally, so the passive strategies set upon have solid buy-in. This goes without mentioning all the energy efficiency and basic safety and self sufficiency to be gained if people were empowered to observe passive energy and implement their own responses:

We need the Passive Energy definition that explains WHY your energy bill is lower when you hang a bedsheet over the outside of your sunstruck east window in the summer, not the Passive Energy definition that tells you that the power company will give you a rebate on solar screens from ACE. We further need the Passive Energy definition that connects the bedsheet to the feeling you get when a tall truck shades you as you're stopped at a redlight, and the greenhouse effect credited with global warming.

So to begin, I urge the term "Passive Energy" over "Passive Solar" for reasons similiar to why you don't want to lump Passive into green building technique: 1) Passive Solar (or as I urge, "Passive Energy") has a real definition that is much more general, despite the fact that many of those sources of highest expertise who, in America, have sadly not been well enough listened to, happen to be highly specialized in building. Yet I can list several fields passive energy applies to (and whose experts have better knowledge of passive energy than far too many in building): Biology, Camping, Gardening, Emergency Management, Wilderness Survival to name a few. 2) Similiarly, many often-called "Passive Solar" strategies, (i.e. earth berming) do not operate applying qualities of the sun specifically, but rather operate applying physics of specific material properties. For this reason, "Energy" better encompasses more than "Solar", 3) Even if "Passive" is passe to some (not all) American practitioners turning blue in exasperation, it does seem to have remained a recognizable term in other places in the world where awareness of Passive has not been smothered to oblivion over the past 30 years. More power to those who, in exasperation and desperation, try to get Passive out there in the USA by trying something new to hatch fully formed,newly named, labeled, branded, and packaged Passive Energy. But I would rather urge keeping the term "Passive" not only to stay away from the Fuel mentality, but to stay connected to places where passive is more normative. This is important, as also is the importance of knowing the history of Passive Energy applications since before Vitruvius: because applicable knowledge of Passive Energy inherently can not be imparted as a one shot wonder panacea handed down by one overarching expert, who might appear to have invented it themselves yesterday. Passive Energy, if it is to accomplish what it must for our Energy and Sustainability concerns, must be a normative response using culturally-held knowledge base. For that, it seems we might need an agreed-upon name for principles, not products.

So I think its worth a lot to make available a useful definition of Passive Energy.

When the DOE resource linked within text in a recent Rocky Mountain Institute article, "The Revival of Passive Design" gave a very weak definition, and I was asked to define Passive Energy, I found it is hard to nutshell, and hard to reference as well. Finally I did find a DOE Factsheet that was excellent, but it was buried and was not what was linked by this "revival" RMI article. so this needs work. I am sure this is too long, but I really hope by your comments, this can help you move this effort along. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mariecamille (talkcontribs) 11:03, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Include current E/The Environmental Magazine article?[edit]

Include current E/The Environmental Magazine's Just Add Body Heat: The New Passive Houses Are So Energy-Efficient, They Make Heating and Cooling Practically Irrelevant by Christine MacDonald? (talk) 22:38, 9 November 2010 (UTC)

Roof-angle glass / Skylights[edit]

Please STOP deleting the well-documented material and references from the U.S. Department of Energy about the many problems with roof-angled glazing and skylights. Skylights are well-known by energy research scientists supported by the DOE to be the anthesis of Passive Solar Building Design. The next person who deletes this scientific material will be suspect of being a skylight salesperson, trying to filter out the scientific truth presented by the U.S. Department of Energy on the EERE website. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Escientist (talkcontribs) 05:33, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

Discussion of aesthetic issues and suitable architectural styles?[edit]

Just wondering if passive solar design restricts houses to certain architectural styles (eg modernist) or if it can be applied to more traditional housing styles without losing the integrity of those buildings? Can you do it without the huge expanses of glass on one side of the house? How little glass can you get away with on the equator-facing wall for it to still be considered passive solar? Are there any examples of passive solar houses out there that don't have that eco-house look, which look more traditional? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:35, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

A history section needed[edit]

A history section is needed, or some section needed to add social and cultural context. Currently the article is mostly about the technology but not about its impact or the significant buildings that have used the technology. What have been some of the break-through buildings and designs? Perhaps a history of passive solar buildings should be in a separate article, which is summarized in a sub-section and then linked to using a

template. --Bruce Hall (talk) 14:44, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

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