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Garden Atrium Passive Solar home by Sun Plans in AK

October 1 @ 12:00 am - 11:59 pm - January 15, 2023 @ 12:00 am - 11:59 pm

This passive solar Garden Atrium design has a central atrium that brings sunlight down into the center of the home. It has a long wall facing south as do most passive solar homes. The front is east-facing on the north side. Steve and Peggy’s home was built in the 2000’s and has been performing comfortably ever since.

The thermal mass provided by a 4-inch concrete slab covered with tile and stone over reinforced masonry walls can store heat is provided by the sun. The floor mass close to the earth also helps moderate inside temperatures since the ground is much warmer than the outside air most of the time. From May to August, the windows are often open. They use ceiling fans year-round. When asked what they like best about their house: “All the windows and the views from them.” Their favorite space inside the house is the great room and the favorite space outdoors is the south deck.

The sun is very low in the sky from Nov. thru Jan. They catch whatever sun heat is available in the rock-covered block walls. The basement is nice and cool; feels like it’s air-conditioned, especially on hot days. It makes a perfect cellar for root vegetables and wine!

“I’m very impressed at how easy it is to regulate the temperature in the house. All we have to do is open a couple of windows to get the air circulating to cool down the house. We don’t even have to turn on a fan. The warmest it has gotten in the house is 75 degrees, which is HOT to us Alaskans.” The basement is totally below grade and has the thermostat is set at 50, and the warmest it’s gotten is 60 degrees. The window in the upstairs bedroom is a casement style that opens out into the atrium space. That bedroom on the west side gets quite warm on spring/summer/fall evenings, so we can circulate that warm air back to the rest of the house.

We get the most energy benefits of passive solar in the spring (Feb.-May), and in the fall (Aug.-Nov.), when the sun is high enough to heat the tile and slab. The warmest room in the house the past two months (June, July) has been the morning room, because the sun hits that room first thing in the morning, and throughout the afternoon until about 5 p.m.”

Floor plans and additional photos can be seen here.

Photo Tour


October 1
January 15, 2023
Event Category:


Debbie Coleman


Sustainable Features
Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Passive Solar, Sustainable Living
Solar Site Type
Sun Plans Inc.


Sun Plans Inc.
Waveland, MS 39576 United States + Google Map

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