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Modern Passive Solar House Kit Update: Discussion with David Day, green architect of the casa ti

As our modern house kit cladding was installed, I reviewed cladding updates with David Day, the green building architect of the casa ti.

As a consumer there are many decisions we make to individualize the house kit: some functional, like systems choices, some cosmetic (er, like deciding to use VMI's basketball court floorboards for the interior walls? ; ) ).

He pointed out some ideas you might consider (and will continue to do so as our passive solar house progresses:

(And contractors please take note to consider with your client...)

1. Please note the windows on your left. Note the corrugated panels do not extend between the windows. He likes the silver, but said it would also be cool to have that piece between the windows black, therefore creating the illusion that the windows joined. (But note the trim framing everything should remain silver.)

2. Another thing David wanted to point out were the clerestory windows. Here you can't see it very well but make sure those windows are about 4 - 5" above the north roofline when putting the house kit SIPs panels together.

3. On the southwest side of the house, consider planting deciduous trees to help shade the west side from the summer sun.

One of You Kind Enthusiasts : ) had emailed me with a question regarding the clerestory windows, and whether they could change them to the south side. I want to share with you David Day's response, because it gives us all insight on the thoughts that went into coming up with the casa ti's passive solar but with great design; what went through a green architect's head as he created a beautiful, environmentally friendly home that works... that I think will help you envision the intent behind its gorgeous design. Enjoy!

"The clerestory windows are on the north because they let the hot air out in the summer, helping to circulate air. The casa ti does have some passive solar features, but it is a far more balanced approach. A purely passive solar design of this house would look different. In this case, the roof form accomplishes several things - it provides a taller volume in the large open living area, where most time is spent.

The north facing clerestories help balance the south light to the opposite side of this main room, and are operable to allow cross ventilation from down low on the south side, out the ceiling level north windows. The lower roof form on the north allows this by staying relatively flat.

Also, the sleeping areas are used less frequently.
Light is less an issue there, and a smaller volume is easier to warm. The south facing main roof is configured to capture solar, for either radiant heating tubes embedded in the concrete (which heats those smaller north side rooms too) or for future power generating pv's. The two end bedrooms do have some south facing windows for partial solar gain, but also to gather some views out southeast and southwest.

To do all those things and still allow south clerestories would suggest an even taller roof over the north side (to make space for those windows), which makes a very large unused volume. Or it would suggest flattening the south side roof and pitching the north side roof to the north to open up a south facing clerestory, losing all the benefits above. In the end, this configuration seemed best, balancing some passive gain on the south with an overall small, low structure.

It also works aesthetically, keeping the focus on the large open living space and south side terrace, where the Casati’s want it. The form is also influenced by an attitude of "keep it small, keep it simple". The pitched roof and volume are very functional, but also make for a compelling space, while staying within fairly strict adherence to material modules."

I also found a great link that explains how passive solar homes are sited- thought you might enjoy, as our passive solar homes are designed to *work.* In order for that to happen you need to orient them correctly to the south, and make sure they have good seasonal exposure. Here is an article put out by North Carolina Solar Center that explains what to consider when purchasing a lot for passive solar and siting a passive house well that might help you as you look for lots.

Sincerely yours,
Copeland Casati

P.s. A reminder- that last piece of cladding arrives next week, at which point work resumes.
We are also in the process of refinancing, which might (hopefully not) create a lull- I will detail that in a separate blog post, but when we looked at the rates we would be *crazy* not to jump now on more than 2 points of a lower rate.

So... there ya go. : )

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At 1/26/09, 1:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. I am thoroughly enjoying watching the progress! I am not ready to build anytime soon but gathering my thoughts and learning.


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