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Community and Q&A

Resource for building Passive Solar

greenhomes | Posted in Green Building Techniques on

HI, I am planning to build a passive solar home in the upper Midwest. There are not any builders in my area that build this way. Besides reading articles on this site, does anyone have any suggestions on how I can accomplish this project? I want to build with ICF’s. My concerns would be making sure I have the proper insulation under the basement and in the roof, the right heating for my home and area, the right windows and ventilation system.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    One possible resource is a book by architect Debra Rucker Coleman, The Sun-Inspired House.

    Be careful of your resources -- especially older books from the 1980s. A few decades back, books tended to overemphasize energy collection and underemphasize the importance of a good thermal envelope and air sealing measures. These days, the tide has turned somewhat away from the old idea of the "passive solar house" to a more sophisticated approach that requires less south-facing glass.

  2. greenhomes | | #2

    Thank you Martin, I do have this book. I think I just need to break each item down separately and research them one by one. I feel I need to be the one to make sure this is done right, but it is not my expertise.

  3. kevin_in_denver | | #3


    How about a quick unsolicited pros and cons of ICFs?


    1. Good for tornados and hurricanes.


    1. More expensive
    2. Hard to remodel or fix mistakes.
    3. Not enough insulation
    4. The insulation on the interior side of the concrete destroys the value of the thermal mass of the wall.
    5. Hard to run wiring.

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Good list!

    I might add one more item to the "pro" list:
    Relatively airtight

  5. greenhomes | | #5

    Thanks for the list. I find that it would be easier for me to get this type of home built here vs double stud wall. I also live in tornado territory.

  6. Danny Kelly | | #6

    Here is another resource - they also provide plan review services and consultanting:

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