Warmth in winter, shade in summer, fragrances in spring, and warm autumn breezes; it’s all about being comfortable at home. And it is possible to accomplish this without using any energy.
There are many devices that can be applied to a home during and after construction to produce energy such as solar panels, water/wind turbines, and geothermal/water wells. Taking it a step further are passive systems. These systems are designed to produce a level of comfort without using any electricity by tapping into the naturally occurring ecosystems at a home site.
One method is to harness specific sun angles. The sun angles can be used to manipulate window/awning placement so that the rays penetrate deep into the home in winter for extra warmth, but only slightly in the summer to maximize shade. This effect can be compounded by placing dense materials (concrete/stone surfaces) at these fenestration points to absorb the warmth during the day, which is then release at night to heat the home in a continuous, passive cycle.
How about noise? Incorporating different textures and uneven surfaces at a facade will help abate noise by breaking up sound waves. This passive system, when paired with insulation or thickened walls, will turn a noise complaint into an beautifully designed accent to a home.
Another system is in strategic placement of operable windows. Researching wind patterns on the home site can influence window placement such that when opened a cool breeze makes it way throughout the home. This breeze can be harnessed as a means to bring scents into the home. Planting a lilac bush, lavender flowers, lilies of the valley, or other fragrant plants at these opening allows the breeze to carry the scents into the home like a breath of spring.
These are just a few of the passive systems to consider when building or designing your first home, a vacation retreat, or even an addition.