Published on November 29th, 2013 | by Important Media Cross-Post


‘The Solar House’ by Anthony Denzer

November 29th, 2013 by  

Originally published on Green Building Elements
by Glenn Meyers

Tony Denzer recently wrote to see if we were interested in writing something about his new book, “The Solar House – Pioneering Sustainable Design.” We are glad we came across this pertinent work, especially for those wanting to know more about the history of solar.

As Denzer aptly points out, “Few people are aware of the influential experimental solar houses which were constructed during the previous four decades, beginning with the work of masters of twentieth-century architecture such as Richard Neutra, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Paolo Soleri, Louis Kahn, Pietro Belluschi, Edward Durell Stone, and Harwell Hamilton Harris, and continuing with more recent innovations like the German Passivhaus movement and the Heliotrope, the first house to produce more energy than it consumed, and the U.S.-based Solar Decathlon, conceived as a living demonstration laboratory and recently expanded to include contests in Europe and China.


On his website, he writes:

“In about 2005 I became interested in the concept of ‘the solar house’ and its history.  Initially I understood the solar house as a product of the 1970s, and many people still do so.  I learned about some fascinating experimental solar houses which were constructed earlier.  As I continued to dig, I learned the term ‘solar house’ had been coined in 1940, and that there were many architects and engineers concerned with using the sun to save energy decades before the energy crisis and the green building movement.

“This book reconstructs the little-known history of the solar house before 1973, with in-depth analyses of all the major solar houses.  It explores the evolution of the scientific understanding of solar heating, including both passive and active technologies.  It also discusses the solar house as a social movement, with many of its leading figures concerned about trends in building energy use and the dependence on fossil fuels in the midcentury period.  The book concludes with an overview of developments since 1973, including the superinsulation and Passivhaus movements, and Jimmy Carter’s solar White House.  It also concludes with a look at how the solar house is conceived today.

“Architects, engineers and firms who are examined in-depth are: George Fred Keck, Hoyt Hottel, Henry N. Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright, Arthur T. Brown, George Löf, Libbey-Owens-Ford, Maria Telkes, Eleanor Raymond, Lawrence B. Anderson, John Yellott, Bridgers & Paxton, Victor and Aladar Olgyay, Felix Trombe, Masanosuke Yanagimachi, Emslie Morgan, Norman Saunders, William Shurcliff, Harold Hay, Peter van Dresser, David Wright, Steve Baer, and Karl Boer.”

Pick up this book and share the title with plenty of folks. It’s worth the time.

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  • Will E

    make your house solar, all electric, without a problem.
    step 1——-put solar on the roof.
    step 2——-install a heat pump air to water, COP 4. means 1 in, 4 out.
    step 3——-buy an induction cooking plate.
    step 4——-disconnect the gas.
    step 5——-buy new triple plus, cooling, freezing, washing, drying.
    step 6——-wait one year for the payback on your energy bill.
    I produce 6000 kwh and use 5600 kwh a year.
    this is what I did last year, a —-you can do it yourself project.
    easy done, no more energy bills, never ever
    and co2 free

    • juxx0r

      Solar houses are about the house, the design, the materials of construction; they are about the houses inherent ability to maintain comfortable temperatures without the need for appliances as a corrective measure.

      Solar houses are not about appliances, add ons, solar panels.

      • RobS

        I would consider a solar house a house whose entire energy needs are met by solar power, passive solar design is an important part of that but heating and cooling generally only encompasses ~25% of a buildings energy use so looking at it alone is a rather limited scope. Ironically people often spend tens of thousands of dollars in intricate passive solar designs which save an amount of energy that would be produced by ~$5,000 worth of solar panels making looking at it alone without looking at the entire homes energy consumption and production as a whole is foolish.

        All that said I don’t necessarily think 100% of needs from solar is always desirable particularly in regions with less solar insolation or in areas with better wind resources than solar.

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