Question

I am planning to build a modular home. Passive solar, smartglass, geothermal system, radiant floor heating desired. Can you give advice?

Asked by merri
Norfolk, VA

The property is in the mountains: 1200', 38N, Nellysford, VA. Front door will face W-NW, view is E-SE. That's the side where we'd want windows. I would really like windows along the two downhill sides of the house, E & S, but am afraid of the heat. Other things I would like to incorporate: metal roof, soapstone fireplace & hearth (& some floors), walk-out basement with high ceilings, lots of insulation. It can be very hot in summer and cold in winter. We have not yet selected a design for the house. 1500-2500 sq ft, 3-4 bedrooms. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated!

Answer

Merri,

There are many variables associated with designing a home properly to be energy efficient and aesthetically pleasing to the owner. Your ideas seem to be in order as to what you would like to see incorporated into the project, but the question I pose to you is, what is your ultimate goal for efficiency?

Also, you had mentioned passive solar design approaches; are you willing to except the responsibility of monitoring your home to maintain its performance and efficiency? What I mean is, passive solar homes require active people to control, adjust and monitor the systems from day to day as well as alter their lifestyle to accommodate these daily changes. That does not go to say that a passive solar home can’t be self sufficient, but it will require technology to do so.

My word of advice to you is not to pick a home design, but to interview architects knowledgeable in sustainable residential design and have the home properly designed from the beginning to ensure that your expectations are met. As an architect involved in sustainable residential design, I can assure you that when the home is properly designed, it will function at its optimum performance and function to the lifestyle you and your family are accustomed to without compromising its aesthetics.

Tagged In: passive solar

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