Passive Solar Teacher Sheet

Passive Solar Teacher Sheet By Fred Bauder [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), via Wikimedia Commons


In this lesson, your students will do some research about the causes of climate change and some potential solutions. One possible solution students will study is passive solar design. This sheet provides some background information about it.

As the demand for energy increases, we must begin to consider our use of energy and the impact that energy production has on our global environment. The data is clear that global temperatures are rising. Although some of that climate change may be from natural causes, much of it appears to be caused by human activity. Heating and cooling accounts for almost half of energy used in the typical U.S. home.

Passive solar design refers to the use of the sun’s energy for the heating and cooling of living spaces. In this approach, the building itself or some element of it takes advantage of natural energy characteristics in materials and air created by exposure to the sun. Passive systems are simple, have few moving parts, and require minimal maintenance and no mechanical systems.

Operable windows, thermal mass, and thermal chimneys are common elements found in passive design. Operable windows are simply windows that can be opened. Thermal mass refers to materials such as masonry and water that can store heat energy for an extended time. Thermal mass will prevent rapid temperature fluctuations. Thermal chimneys create or reinforce the effect of hot air rising to induce air movement for cooling purposes.


This teacher sheet is a part of the Mitigating Climate Change through Passive Solar Design lesson.

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