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Glossary

Terms for Green Architecture, Building & Energy


This glossary includes more than 300 solar terms, as well as hundreds of additional sustainable design and construction terms.

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Trombe Wall

Definition 1: A south-facing masonry wall that is covered with glass spaced a few inches away. Sunlight passing through the glass is transformed into heat at the wall’s surface, which either migrates into the building interior or is thermosyphoned to interior spaces through vents. A Trombe wall enables the collection of solar energy for use in the heating of buildings. Trombe walls consist of a multilayer construction, with a dark, heavyweight material on the inner surface and a transparent layer on the outer surface. Solar energy is transmitted through the outer surface and collected within the void. This heat is then transferred via conductance through the heavyweight wall, which then provides radiant heating for the occupants. Additionally, controlled venting can be provided to allow warm air collected in the void to be transferred to the space thereby offering a degree convective heating.

Definition 2: A concrete, stone or masonry wall that has vents at regular intervals both along the floor and just below the ceiling. The exterior. south-facing side is dark in color and fronted with glass. Air is warmed between the glass and wall and circulates by convection through the vents. It is named after Dr. Felix Trombe, one of it’s developers.