For those of you not familiar with ‘passive heating and cooling design’, it’s a building design strategy based primarily upon knowledge of thermodynamics and how the sun moves through the sky at different times of day and year— in a nutshell; using the sun’s energy to heat a building in winter, and natural ventilation with solar shading for cooling in summer. Whereas most modern buildings are built without regard for solar orientation, and therefore need to rely heavily on mechanical heating and cooling, passively heated and cooled buildings can be comfortable without the use of these systems, cutting down enormously on electricity bills (up to 90%!) and increasing the overall health of a space. If you’re an architect, builder, engineer or simply a green building enthusiast looking to learn more about this subject, you’ll be excited to hear about Boston Architectural College’s (BAC) brand new Passive Heating and Cooling Design online course which starts this fall!
This autumn, the 120-year-old design school will be adding a comprehensive, highly interactive course to its already robust Sustainable Design Institute online offerings, focusing in on the core concepts of passive heating and cooling design and how to best implement those principles in new construction. Read on to learn more about the program, as well as how you claim a spot in this in-demand class—there are only 15 spots available, so we encourage interested readers to sign up quickly before all of the openings are gone!
A sunspace at the University of Oregon
WHAT IS PASSIVE HEATING + COOLING DESIGN?
Passive design is a design strategy that is oriented around the sun, and the way the sun moves through the sky and heats up different types of materials.
An example of passive solar design in action. Image via Energy & CO2
Passive heating and cooling design takes advantage of the local climate and site conditions to maximize comfort and health within a structure while minimizing energy use. The key elements of passive heating and cooling design include: building location and orientation, layout, window design, insulation (including windows), thermal mass, shading, and ventilation. All of these elements work together to maximize air quality and movement, creating regulated interior temperatures year round. Moreover, by using renewable sources of energy like the sun and wind to cool, heat, ventilate, and light spaces, the use of energy-heavy mechanical systems can be reduced, and in some cases, be completely removed. This in turn also means removing greenhouse gas emissions that would have otherwise resulted from mechanical or electrical intervention.
For good reason, interest in passive cooling and heating design is growing fast, and with an increased demand for more comfortable and resource-efficient buildings, it’s no surprise that there are more and more homes employing these very principles in areas across the globe, from big cities to mountainside villages.
BAC’S NEW PASSIVE DESIGN COURSE
Boston Architectural College’s just-launched Passive Heating and Cooling Design course will engage students in exercises that will equip them with the know-how needed to not only understand the concepts of passive heating and cooling design, but also how to implement what they’ve learned to make important design decisions such as sizing of glass, mass, operable windows, and movable insulation. Students will begin to grasp how site-specific weather data, field instruments, and energy models can be used to characterize a site’s solar and wind resources, to select mass and glazing configurations suitable for a site and program, and to position and schedule operable vents and movable insulation in order to create a thermally delightful space. Ultimately, each student will work towards the goal of designing high-performing passive solar and natural ventilation systems at a site of their choice.
This semester’s passive design course will be taught by Alexandra Rempel, a building scientist in the Environmental Studies Program at the University of Oregon. Some of her recent projects include field monitoring and mathematical modeling of Pacific Northwest sunspaces, direct-gain spaces, and thermal siphon systems; natural ventilation designs and evaluations in university buildings; and investigations of cloud cover and tree shading implications for regional passive building practices. She holds a B.A. in Biochemistry from Harvard College, a Ph.D. in Biology from MIT, and an M.Arch. from the University of Oregon.
The class will host a maximum of 15 students in a virtual classroom for eight weeks. Students will have an opportunity to share ideas and experiences with their peers and instructor. And because classes are limited to 15 persons, there will be ample opportunity to engage in manageable and meaningful discussions. Prerequisites for the Passive Heating and Cooling Design course include: Green Practice: Energy & Air Quality Principles (TM7428, TM428 or SUS4029) and Solar Energy: Design With the Sun (TM7314, TM314 or SUS4017).
ABOUT BOSTON ARCHITECTURAL COLLEGE
BAC offers degrees in architecture, landscape architecture, interior design and design studies on campus as well as low residency degrees in architecture and design studies, including a Master of Design Studies in Sustainable Design –MDS-SD. Through the Sustainable Design Institute (SDI) at BAC, the college also offers the most comprehensive curriculum in sustainable design of any accredited college or university, with over 30 half-semester, online graduate courses. The SDI courses are available to BAC degree students and to professional and continuing education students from around the world, who can take the courses individually or as part of one of four SDI graduate certificates. SDI courses also serve as electives in the distance Master of Design Studies in Sustainable Design. Many courses are approved for continuing education credits by the AIA, the GBCI, the RIBA and the EADC.
The SDI, in particular, was created as a place for all kinds of students to learn about the practices, processes and materials with which we can create a truly sustainable built environment.