Originally developed for Mother Earth News magazine, these homes are prototype designs of classic Craftsman and Prairie style homes with integrated passive solar and environmental principals.
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These homes are climatically designed to take advantage of their solar orientation and layout to maximize control of the sun year round. Their highly efficient floor plan allows them to be functional while minimizing the amount of conditioned space and construction materials. The homes are about 2300 square feet of finished space with three bedrooms and 1 ½ baths situated on two main floors of living space.
The effectiveness of the various natural cooling elements (properly sized solar shading, natural ventilation from the solar chimney, cross ventilation, etc.) combined with ceiling fans might eliminate the need for mechanical cooling except in harsher climate zones. Radiant heat and a highly efficient fireplace assist the passive solar gain in the winter.
Green elements would include cement fiberboard siding and trim and pultruded fiberglass clad high efficiency windows, rain chains (decorative open 'downspouts'), high efficiency insulation, and a controlled mechanical air intake system. Green finish materials have been thoughtfully selected to improve air quality and reduce allergens, including materials such as hard surfaced flooring (concrete, tile and wood) and low and no-VOC adhesives and finishes.
As modeled in an energy analysis computer program, these house designs are at least 50% more energy efficient than an equivalent code complaint home (IECC 2003).