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Community and Q&A

Attic … Friend or Foe?

John Brooks | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

My friend, Jim Sargent calls the Attic “the Oven”
Living in Texas “Do you really want an OVEN attached to your House?”

Also…If you look at most Building America and Passivhaus projects…the Theme seems to be
Push the Living Enclosure to the Roofline …. Eliminate the Evil Attic.

Why not treat the attic as a Friend? a separate Enclosure?

Why not provide “adjustable” ventilation for the Attic Enclosure?
mechanical or manually adjustable…(by time of day or by season)
Capable of gentle or Rapid Purge.

Maybe roofs CAN be dark colors?
Absorbing and or Emitting (to Night Sky)
Storing heat and or “coolth”
Attics could even have seasonally or daily shaded Sky Windows.
Night Sky Windows during the cooling season??

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    Shades of the 1970s. Who else remembers those gable-roofed houses with translucent plastic roofing panels on the south slopes? Solar pioneers made "solar attics" -- and filled them with rock bins or thousands of plastic milk jugs filled with water or big honking tanks connected to pumps.

    Many of these ideas have been tried before, and abandoned.

    Whether or not you want an attic is up to you. Choose your thermal boundary and install lots of insulation. At that point, it doesn't matter what the temperature is outside of your thermal boundary.

  2. John Brooks | | #2

    nix the sky windows and the milk jugs.

  3. Doug McEvers | | #3

    Martin and John,

    One design had water bed mattresses in the attic as I recall and then there was the Trombe wall.

  4. John Brooks | | #4

    I know Danny Parker has been working on a Night cool experiment.
    I will take another look...
    If I recall the roof was white metal .... which seems odd for night cooling? no?

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