Passive Solar Design Homes: A Green Heating Solution for New Mexico (and Elsewhere)

Real Estate Agent with Earth Origins Realty

Passive Solar Designed Homes in Albuquerque

People here in Albuquerque and other Southwestern communities have been building with passive solar designs for hundreds of years.  Ancient adobe homes attest to this long-held building tradition in New Mexico.  When most people think of New Mexican architecture or building, adobe structures often come to mind.  With Albuquerque's beautiful sun-filled skies, designing for passive solar is a cost-effective and relatively simple green heating and cooling solution.

A Green Heating Solution in New Mexico - And Anywhere Else Where the Sun Shines!

You can easily save financially (and help "Save the Earth") from designing and building features that effectively trap heat from the sun during the day and release that heat slowly throughout the nighttime. The effect is similar to living near a large body of water (something we New Mexicans don't really know about!) where the thermal mass of the water lessens temperature extremes. That means reduced heating and cooling load for a building, and that saves you money, all the while being mechanically simple and low maintenance.  Passive solar designed homes use windows, walls, floors, and even the roof to work as a heating and cooling system to soak up, store, and redistribute to the rest of the house.   

You may easily incorporate thermal mass into a building for passive solar heating by using materials such as concrete, stone floor slabs, rammed earth or adobe trombe walls, or masonry partitions that hold, then slowly release heat.  If you really want to go super green, you can even built with mud floors! 

You can also generate mass for storing heat by building sun facing trombe walls.  Trombe walls can be made of adobe (a very popular and green material often used here in the Southwest), rammed earth, concrete, stone, or even water tanks. 

Orienting your building so that the longest walls run from east to west, and using large south-facing windows, allows the sun to help heat the home in winter. Properly designed roof overhangs - or awnings-shield the building interior from the summer sun. Passive solar designs use natural methods to stabilize the internal temperature of a building without the need for active mechanical devices such as pumps or fans, although these may be used to supplement performance. Passive solar designs also include natural ventilation, like proper placement of windows, for cooling. An obvious method is simply locating windows in the building strategically so that when opened, a natural breeze moves through the home with cross ventilation. Openings and passages designed into ceilings - like heating towers- will promote the escape of hot air from the interior of the building through the roof or upper windows.

Estimated Cost Savings:
Passive solar designs can reduce heating bills as much as 50 percent. For a monthly heating bill of $200 dollars, you may expect savings of $80-$120 per month. If passive solar features are included at the time of initial construction, or as part of an overall remodeling effort, the effective net cost of improvements will be much lower. However, you will benefit immediately in your monthly cash-flow.  I can personally attest to the cost savings and amazing COMFORT LEVEL of living in a passive solar designed home - our radiant floor heating system is rarely kicked on during the cold winter months.

Build New or Remodel Passive Solar Today!

Passive solar designs are easiest to implement at the planning and design stages of a new home. However, existing buildings may be quite easy to retrofit with passive solar improvements. Virtually all occupants of passive-solar homes report enjoying design features, improved efficiency, and an enhanced sense of connectedness to the natural world.

Earth Origins Realty and Construction: Albuquerque's Green Realtor and Builder  

Visit Earth Origins Realty website to learn more about passive solar and other green homes in New Mexico at  In addition to being a "Green"
REALTOR, Paul is also a Green Home Builder.  His experience as the General Contractor with Earth Origins  
Construction offers home buyers and sellers a unique perspective and service.  Sharing knowledge about green home construction and remodeling helps clients consider a home's particular strengths and/or
weaknesses as it relates to indoor air quality, energy efficiency, water conservation, sustainability of
materials, and environmental impact.  So if you are looking for a green real estate agent, Eco Broker, Realtor, or builder, or are just curious about the green living "hype",


Comments (1)

Kathy Clulow
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage - Uxbridge, ON
Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results

Paul - at first I thought that is ok in your area but would not work as well here until I checked your average temperatures. While we tend to be cooler it could benifit here as well.

Apr 07, 2010 01:42 AM