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 require no mechanical systems.

  • Solar orientation – site permitting, we try to incorporate this into every project.
  • Roof overhangs – this is a feature driven by style preference as well as the desire to reduce solar heat gain.
  • Super insulation – the insulation industry continues to develop better products and techniques for insulating homes. A concept that appears to be gaining ground is the idea of a more or less continuous insulative barrier around the building envelope.
  • High performance glass – governed in part by code and in part by good sense, high performance glass windows and doors are integral to energy efficient designs.
  • Air infiltration barriers – SJA was one of the first in the area to use ‘Tyvek’ Homewrap back in the 1980s. A quality air and moisture barrier helps prevent air leakage and water leakage into the building.

Solar Panels

  • Photovoltaics – our office boasted the largest solar array in Dubuque at the time of its installation in May of 2011.
  • Photovoltaics, or solar panels, can reduce a buildings energy costs significantly. State and Federal Programs have been established to help reduce the initial costs. Typically we see a payback between 5-7 years depending on the size of the solar panel system or array. For the most production of energy a project should be designed towards solar angles specific to each individual’s projects site.