Solar Passive Houses

Here is a link to our recently produced video to show what Ecotect-Architects has been doing recently and in fact for decades….

It is an update on a design approach we pioneered from the 1970s onwards and the services we provide to help you achieve your dream in the most sustainable way possible.

One way to alleviate anxiety over climate change is to build your next houses a well-optimized passive solar house or retrofit your existing house to save energy

Short Video Follow Up

To understand more, please read the script below after watching this video.

And follow up with our educational video made in 2005 to reinforce the knowledge

Or visit the shop on Wise Earth and Ecotect-Architects web sites to purchase useful design manuals.

Comments and Quotes from Garry Baverstock AM, founder of Ecotect-Architects and Wise Earth. 

 “What does it take to make your home naturally comfortable as possible and also apply the latest technologies to help avert dangerous climate change?

“I want to show you that have a home professionally designed makes more sense than ever at this time in history”

“It is not as easy as many in the housing industry would have you believe”.

“It all starts with good design. The aesthetics are important, but also how the house functions is critical. Its use of energy will be an asset or a big liability well after the glow of moving into a new home has long gone!”

“The video is to reinforce the use of passive solar design principles being applied to houses. In temperate climates homeowners pay 60 – 70% annual bills on hot water (23% for Perth, WA), with heating and cooling (40%).

“When considering natural light benefits and energy efficient lights and appliances at least 80 to 90% can be saved using the sun. This reduces the peak load required from 6 – 8 kW to 2 – 3kW of peak power making the application of PV panels far more cost effective”.

“A passive solar design house uses basic principles of orientation, cross ventilation, smart use of materials, shading and insulation to deliver natural comfort most of the time”.

“Solar water heaters will provide a 60 – 70% solar contribution and deliver hot water at 18 c/kWh over the life of the product. This is about half the costs of conventional systems. However our new PV technologies will cost a lot less.”

“Combining passive solar designed houses along with smart controlled PV technologies for hot water, boosting of heating and cooling along with the use of batteries for power and lighting use will allow you to achieve Carbon neutral status in energy use”.

“By the way, it does not make sense to use solar charged batteries to operate hot water or air conditioning at night. It simply is not cost effective and probably never will be for thermal applications.”

“The main principles of solar design are:

– Orient the home to the north in the southern hemisphere (south in the northern)

– Preference given to heavy weight materials for the internal walls

– Design windows and doors to gain good cross-ventilation

– Use double-glazing or install blinds and curtains for insulating windows

– Ensure all windows have adequate overhang or shade device for summer”

“The ideas are simple but the application is subtle. Our longer video ‘Living in a Home that Breaths’ is a good guide on how design should be modified in difference climatic zones. You can find that on YouTube”.

“Builders most often place low priority on planning the home, which is usually a standard plan onto a block as far as climatic considerations are concerned” They basically cut and paste to cheapen the construction but usually leave you with energy bills that will cost you about 10 years of home payments over a 30 year bank loan schedule. Builders seem to be more interested in higher profits than you long term economic benefit.”

“Regulations have forced builders to reconsider their position over the last few decades, but they still to the minimum required for energy efficiency for the same reason”

“Having the right shape facing the right way is critical to achieve good results”

“Understanding the path of the sun and the angles as it hits the walls, windows and roof are very important to get best use of free solar energy in winter and excluding it in summer”.

“When solar radiation passes through window and gets absorbed in the interior walls and flow it re-emits as long wave radiation or heat, from the shortwave radiation of sunlight. This long wave radiation is trapped because it does not pass back out through the glass”.

“In understanding added considerations of using landscaping to enhance the passive solar effects such as wind breaks extra shade in the right position in summer as well as special materials and construction methods all needs an expert to get good results”.

“There is a formula for every climate for the area of glass, rate of insulation, amount of thermal mass, solar performance of blinds and shutters that needs experience”.

“A home is one of the biggest investments most people make”.

“It does not make sense to NOT get it right and add value by good design and planning. Extra design costs are returned many-fold when you sell the property, while enjoying all the extra benefits and energy savings when living there”.

“Staying comfortable, saving money and living in a home that breaths is what an Ecotect-Architects designed home offers”.

“Start the journey with an advisory service on your ideas and go from there perhaps?”

“Those that have done so would tell you it was the best decision made in the journey of having a climate sensible home built that satisfies all aspects of living and economic realities for the 21st century”.

“Have a look at our website and make a booking before you commit too far with your project. Many past clients are glad they did” ……… Garry Baverstock 2019.


Our Team

We have a team of architectural associates of all age groups to suit your style, and all have been trained to be masters at solar and sustainable designed architecture

Design Checklist  (refer to Climate Sensible Designs – ‘Living in a Home that Breathes’)

– What is the goal of this video? To educate the home buyer!

– Start by facing the house the right way

– Create the right kind of shape

– Builders often place houses on a plot of land in such a way to maximize their profit

– They copy and paste the design and fit as many as possible on the land

– By duplicating the design they save expenses and maximize profits

– Solar passive houses use far less energy than ordinary houses

– Therefore they are cheaper to run

– Therefore the largest household expenses are reduced

– You can save 60 to 90% on your electricity/gas heating and cooling bills

– Understanding sun angles and the difference in summer and winter is important

– Sun comes in windows and heats the interior

– The difference between long wave and short wave rays needs to be understood

– Shade windows to stop summer sun and allow winter sun

– Open / Close curtains / blinds / shutters

– The basics are important but it is scientific Therefore the house should be designed by someone trained in the science of architecture

– Who knows how much glass?

– Where to place the windows

– To design open and close windows for breezes

– Use natural vegetation for shading walls and keeping sun off windows in summer

– Deciduous and use ever green landscape

– Concrete Slab – thermally isolated from the ground in cold or hot climates

– Air tightness

– Windows, ceilings, membranes for waterproofing and insulation

– Mechanical ventilation system when needed for release of hot air build-up

– Self-supporting roofing panels

– Retractable shading – Tecto pergola / solar verandahs

– Fresh air supply from northern bulkheads to southern outlets for supplementary AC (for Australia)

– Corridor becomes a transferred air zone

– External walls structured insulated panels

– Thermal bridging

– High performance windows

– Implications of air changes rate 0.1 v. 0.6

– Insulations – polyurethane foam

– Aluminium framed windows

Passive solar house: stringent requirement with guaranteed performance – always comfortable with minimum heating and cooling

– Solar Passive house – broad passive solar design principles, ambient weather/sun but NOT guaranteed though improved conditions