Passive solar design involves utilizing a building’s basic elements—walls, windows and floors—to produce a comfortable environment with less reliance on mechanical heating and cooling.
Passive solar systems can provide space heating, natural ventilation, cooling load avoidance, daylighting and water heating. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 30 to 50% energy cost reductions are economically realistic in new office design with an optimum mix of energy conservation and passive solar design strategies.
In addition, most passive solar design strategies integrate well with active solar applications such as photovoltaics.
Concrete masonry plays a vital role in effective passive solar design, by providing thermal mass to absorb and slowly release solar heat.
Without sufficient thermal mass, passive solar buildings can overheat and be uncomfortable.