How To Heat And Cool Cities Without Fossil Fuels | Low Tech Magazine
One of the fundamental problems about covering sustainable design is that really, the single family house doesn’t matter in the larger scheme of things. We spend so much time covering passive houses, for example, when they and all of the other green houses shown on every design website don’t add up to a rounding error when it comes to where people live in most of the world, which is in cities.
That’s why Kris De Decker’s post at Low Tech Magazine is so important and groundbreaking. He has written The solar envelope: how to heat and cool cities without fossil fuels. He writes:
Passive solar design does not involve any new technology. In fact, it has been around for thousands of years, and even predates the use of glass windows. For most of human history, buildings were adapted to the local climate through a consideration of their location, orientation and shape, as well as the appropriate building materials. This resulted in many vernacular building styles in different parts of the world. In contrast, most modern buildings look the same wherever they stand. They are made from the same materials, they follow forms that are driven by fashion rather than by climate, and are most often randomly located and oriented, indifferent to the path of the sun and the prevailing wind conditions.
He then goes on to describe how zoning and building rules might be changed to create solar envelopes and the ensure the principle of solar access. It used to be common practice; De Decker notes that ” The Ancient Greeks built entire cities which were optimal for solar exposure.”
Image: © The density atlas