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What form or shape of a building will make it cool?

Mani Priya | Posted in General Questions on

What form of a building makes it cool?

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  1. Andrew C | | #1

    This could be a complicated question. Which climate zone are you in? Or more generally, hot or cold?

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    The answer depends on whether the house will be air conditioned.

    If there is no air conditioning, the traditional approach is to put the house on stilts so that it catches breezes. In many hot climates, traditional homes had air-permeable floors, walls, and ceilings to encourage air flow.

    If you are planning to build an air-conditioned house in a hot climate, you might want to follow the advice in this article: Hot-Climate Design.


  3. Nate G | | #3

    I think it makes sense to marry them, where appropriate. That means a big roof to keep sun off the walls and windows, reflective white metal roofing, lots and lots of roof/attic insulation, preferably at the roofline rather than the attic floor. If there's no cold winter, than an earth-coupled slab with no insulation beneath it may make sense. Thick masonry walls also help enormously, especially when combined with the aforementioned big shady roof. Advanced architecture in hot parts of the world usually incorporates thick masonry walls. The best way to insulate these walls is on or towards the exterior, not on both sides like most ICF walls. High ceilings, double-hung windows, and ceiling fans also work well. Air movement was the air conditioning before there was air conditioning.

    If you do all of this, your house may not actually need air conditioning to be extremely comfortable. If it still does, it probably won't be needed more than a week or two per year, so inexpensive window units may suffice, as they do in much of the USA's northeast.

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