What is passive solar design?
Is it worth doing in our cloudy maritime climate?
How much glass will it take to utilize passive solar?
How much extra does a passive solar home cost?
Are all your projects solar homes?
When should I contact Winter Sun Design?
What is a Building Designer?
What does a Building Designer do?
Don't house plans have to be stamped by an Architect?

General Questions

What is passive solar design?

Passive solar design utilizes the architectural components and features of the building to naturally provide for the occupant's heating, cooling, and lighting needs. It uses no outside energy, except the sun, creates no pollution to operate, and the only maintenance required is to wash the glass.

Is it worth doing in our cloudy maritime climate?

Yes, although during the shortest, grayest days of late fall and early winter, a passive solar home will require almost the same amount of auxiliary conventional heating as a non-solar house. During the rest of our heating season (about six months) a passive home can stay comfortable with almost no back-up heat. A passive solar home in Seattle can save 60 percent annually on conventional fuel costs. Oregon and Eastern Washington savings percentages are similar. Passive solar homes are typically light and airy with open floor plans and lots of windows. When properly designed, the same system(s) can cool the home in the summer without seasonal heat storage.

How much glass will it take to utilize passive solar?

It depends on how much the client wants to do. A house with south-facing glass equal to 12 percent (glazing percentage) of its heated space is called sun tempered. It can get about 10-30 percent of its annual space heat from the sun without adding extra mass to store daytime heat for nighttime use. By increasing the south glass to 20 percent of the home's heated floor area, a home can achieve up to 50 percent solar savings with the addition of some heat storing materials (thermal mass). To achieve a 60 percent reduction in a home's conventional heating requirements normally requires multiple systems including an attached greenhouse and around 30 percent glazing percentage with added mass storage.

How much extra does a passive solar home cost?

A sun-tempered home costs no more to design and build than a conventional house. Passive solar utilizes standard construction materials and methods. Its efficiency is largely determined by good solar access, appropriate room layouts with consideration of orientation and use, adequate heat storage capacity, and energy conserving design and construction details. Passive solar design is commonly an act of balancing costs vs. aesthetics vs. performance. Saving 50 percent of annual heating cost for an extra 2-5 percent of the construction cost of the home is feasible. If you want 100 percent solar heating, that requires collecting heat in the summer and fall to be used in the winter (seasonal storage). Large rock bins and fans can be used to achieve this, but are somewhat costly and not entirely passive.

Are all your projects solar homes?

No. Typically 25 - 50 percent of my work is designing fairly conventional remodels, 2nd story additions, and new homes with poor solar access. I do incorporate EMF mitigation, recycled content, low-toxic, energy and resource efficient materials and systems into all my designs and specifications.
When should I contact Winter Sun Design?
When you're thinking about your retirement home, weekend cabin, dream home, or monument to simplicity, self sufficiency, and environmental stewardship. When you're considering taking out a wall, finishing your basement, adding another room or another whole story. I can help with a twice annual class in passive solar, periodic renewable energy workshops, information on environmentally-friendly building materials and systems, solar site assessment, guidelines for choosing a building site, alternatives to single family housing, referrals to green financial institutions, contractors, suppliers, sub-contractors, and organizations. My bread and butter is drafting plans and getting permits. However, I impact many more projects through public speaking, writing articles, and hourly consultations. Your introduction visit to my home office costs just $120 for up to 2 hours of consulting. Site consults within the City cost $120-$250 for up to 2 hours, based on location of site and complexity of assessment and design. If I have to climb up on the roof with a harness and rope, it costs more. Normal rate is $90/hour and drive time to distant sites is negotiable. Call me at 206-525-3969 for a free brochure, a list of references, or to make an appointment.


Building Design

What is a Building Designer?
A Building Designer is one who is qualified by a combination of education and experience to competently and creatively design and draw plans for residential remodels, new homes, multi-family units, and low-rise commercial buildings.

What does a Building Designer do?

Basic services can include space planning, aesthetic and structural design, codes compliance design, construction blueprints, project specifications, and construction supervision.

Don't house plans have to be stamped by an Architect?

No, Washington State Law RCW 18.08.410 exempts all single family homes, multi-family buildings (less than or equal to 4 units), and commercial buildings (less than or equal to 4,000 sq. ft. of construction) from the requirement of hiring an Architect. Even for larger commercial buildings and very complex structures an Engineer's stamp will suffice.

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Contact Chris Herman at (206) 525-3969
chris@wintersundesign.com

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