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An Appalachian House: The Design and Analysis of a Passive Solar House (Virginia, USA)

Credits: ©1999 Robin Rogers

This project is a proposal for the green architecture design of a house - a green building - situated on a plot of land within the town limits of Blacksburg, Virginia, USA. It incorporates ideas drawn from many sources, particularly from its region of Appalachia — its geology, architectural heritage, building materials, history, Blacksburg’s Comprehensive Plan, housing, agriculture and energy resources. An introduction discusses some ideas on architecture followed by chapters which provide the basis upon which the design was developed, then, a description of the house design and drawings followed by an analysis of the environmental responsiveness of the design using a computer program called “Energy Scheming.”


Appalachian House

©1999 Robin Rogers

Overall, the Appalachian House is a Sunship that incorporates many features that are considered sustainable, including the use of passive and active solar energy. Some examples include the use of local materials to save transportation costs; the use of double-pane low-e glass to facilitate the efficient collection of solar radiation inside the house; the construction of a large thermal mass to store heat from the sun during the day so that it can be slowly released through the day or night to save on commercial power consumption; a greenhouse provides a place to grow food and possibly store batteries for active solar collectors; the installation of efficient supplemental heat sources, particularly the woodstove that uses a renewable resource; the collection of rainwater for use in gardens and greenhouse; the efficient use of space and relative small size of the house; the durable construction materials of the house floor, walls and roof; and ultimately the use of solar and geothermal heat to make the house a comfortable place to live. Other features could also contribute to the sustainability of the Appalachian House, such as the use of efficient lighting systems and fixtures, energy conserving appliances (refrigerator, hot water heater, washer, stove, etc.), water conserving fixtures (toilet, shower head, sinks, etc.), and non-toxic materials in the insulation or roofing materials, for example.

Relevant books:

The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling

The Passive Solar House

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  An Appalachian House: The Design and Analysis of a Passive Solar Home (7,440 kb)


An Appalachian House (Virginia, USA)