Maybe a brief explanation of what a solar passive home is…is a good place to start. A building that is designed to maintain an even level of heat and light, at comfortable temperatures throughout the entire 24-hour day, solely with the power of sunlight and building design, is called a solar passive home. If you want to consider the possibility of cutting your heating bill up to 90%, you might want to know there are studies that say passive solar homes can do that.
Insulation and airtight construction are critical for a solar passive home. The design takes advantage of all natural resources to capture and use the sun’s energy in the most efficient manner. The design incorporates as few active systems, solar or otherwise, to generate power.
Were you aware that buildings produce 48% of all of the greenhouse gases that are emitted each year? Or, that 76% of the electrical power generated by power plants is to operate buildings? Well, that’s what the statistics at the U. S. Energy Information Administration say.
Just think for a moment…how much we could reduce those numbers just with new construction for individual homes and commercial buildings…by taking full advantage of solar passive energy designed buildings. What do you suppose the positive effect of that would be on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted every year?
Ecohome magazine, an expert source for solar energy information says “”retrofits, solar power and water conservation [are] seen as some of the top issues this year.” But unfortunately, that still doesn’t mean that we’re seeing a monumental shift in the number of passive solar homes being constructed in the United States.
With fossil fuels still relatively cheap in the United States, many homeowners have eschewed solar alternatives in favor of lower-priced options. However, with an added construction cost of only 5 to 10 percent, and energy costs of oil, gas and coal rising rapidly, passive solar homes will soon be the lower-priced option.
A lingering belief system from the 1970’s, when passive solar home construction first found a toehold in the United States, may still be holding back progress in this area. Then, everyone thought a passive solar home couldn’t be constructed without a special architect and a solar engineer to consult every step of the way during construction. Today, that’s not only a false belief, it’s totally non-factual. Now, not only can you find prefabricated passive solar energy homes ready to be set on your site, you can also get many suitable blueprints. In fact, the average homebuilder can find the right tools and guidance for construction, with or without an architect’s assistance.
Europe, experiencing the price increase of non-renewable energy much earlier, has built thousands of solar passive homes in recent years and may well lead the global drive to reduce fossil fuel dependence, along with our burgeoning environmental footprint.
Although nowhere near Europe currently in terms of solar option popularity, the United States is, in fact, making strides. According to a recent Solar Energy Industries Association news release: “The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today released the 2009 U.S. Solar Industry Year in Review, finding 2009 to be another year of strong growth despite the economic recession. Overall U.S. solar electric capacity, including both photovoltaic and concentrating solar power installations, increased by 37 percent. This was driven primarily by strong demand in the residential and utility-scale markets, state and federal policy advances and declining technology prices. As a result, total solar industry revenue reached $4 billion, a 36 percent increase over 2008.”
What this means is there’s good news for anyone who wants to “go green.” It’s an affirmation that solar energy, including passive solar energy homes, is on the rise everywhere.
Home and commercial builders are increasingly becoming more interested in “green” building, and in fact, many are now exclusively green builders. If you’re curious, take a look at your yellow page listings in cities and towns everywhere, and the growth is obvious. We may not be in the same league as Europe yet, but there’s no question the sun is rising on the solar home everywhere.
Right now is the right time. There’s the national commitment to reduce our environmental impact. Fossil fuel energy costs are rising rapidly. There are tax credits and rebates. Expect to see the popularity of solar passive homes rise rapidly. After all, why ignore the obvious…the sun really does shine somewhere every single day.