Passive Architecture

Ionia-AlaskaArchitects, builders, sustainable building practitioners, urban planners and energy technology researchers come together in the unique interdisciplinary environment of the American Solar Energy Society every year. They trade success stories, updates on green building technology, and visionary plans for the future. This year, the National Passive Solar Conference, which is in its 38th year, will feature two broad themes that explore passive architecture and building technology: “Emerging Architecture & Passive Building Technology” (see below) and “Daylighting, Modeling & Building Automation.” Each track offers insight into state-of-the-art in solar and sustainable building research and practice. Some of the conference highlights include:

Passive Conference Plenary:

The Mythic Modern: Mythology, Ecology and Technology….the Spirit of Place, delivered by Travis Price, FAIA, author of “The Archeology of Tomorrow: Architecture and the Sprit of Place”

Emerging Architecture and Passive Building Technology

Wednesday, April 17

8:30-10:00 AM Forum – DOE Building Integrated Solar Technologies Road Map

Author and Presenter: William Goetzier, Matt Guernsey

Navigant Consulting, Inc. invites you to join us to discuss the future of Building Integrated Solar Technologies (BIST) and provide input on the critical needs in the industry. Navigant, on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Technologies Office, is developing a roadmap to guide future DOE investment in research and development (R&D) of BIST. BIST include technologies for space heating and cooling, water heating, hybrid photovoltaic thermal systems, active solar lighting, and building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV). The objective of this roadmap is to advance DOE’s goal of reducing building-related energy consumption through R&D initiatives which facilitate greater market penetration of BIST.

1:30-3:00 PM Forum- Management and Design Strategies for High Performance Building Enclosures + Construction Phase Moisture Management

Presenters: Randall Walter, Nick Karas

More details on each presenter/presentation below.

Strategy and Design for Thicker Enclosures

Presenter: Randall Walter, Hans Porschitz, Benson Woodworking Company Inc.

Join us to explore future state of bio based insulated wall design and the associated challenges and performance opportunities. Throughout the presentation we will explore the balance between the science and aesthetics as we share examples from recent projects. Topics to include: location of glazing within the thickness of the wall, air sealing approaches, protecting insulation from infrastructure, penetration details, solar shading and natural light control.

Construction Phase Moisture Management

Presenter: Nick Karas, Alex Larson, Keene State College; Hans Porschitz, Benson Woodworking Company Inc.

We intend to share our findings on the cause of and effect of interior relative humidity and moisture. Our research includes at least 8 areas of data that were collected during the full course of a 3 month construction process of a tightly sealed home. Our presentation will include raw data, graphical comparison, data analysis, daily job work log, pictures, and discussion on the importance of moisture control. After a summary of our findings, we will discuss specific areas and times of concern regarding high and low humidity and moisture, as well as their associated origins. We will conclude with recommendations of control measures necessary to keep moisture levels within desirable parameters

3:30-5:00 PM Forum- Passive House: net PLUS Now

Authors: Al Cobb, Richard Backus, Dave Gano
Presenter: Al Cobb, Net Plus Energy School, Moneta, VA

Abstract: This 90 minute forum engages industry professionals in the practical “how to” of low-energy design and construction, as exemplified by methodologies such as ‘passive house’.  The fundamental building science and technical requirements to perfecting low-energy building enclosures are discussed, showing application in built structures.  Modern ‘passive house’ building practice is examined, as a necessary evolution of traditional passive solar design.  Energy modelling, low-energy consumption metrics, and performance measurement are synthesized, to set a proper foundation for achieving ‘net zero’ to ‘net plus’ energy goals.

Thursday, April 18

8:30-10:00 AM Passive Solar + Sustainability Design Tools

Presenters: Sukreet Singh, Martha Bohn, Sophia Duluk, Sananda Mukherjee, Michael Hindle

More details on each presenter/presentation below.

Multi-disciplinary optimization in the early stages of design

Authors: Sukreet Singh, Karen Kensek
Presenter: Sukreet Singh, Masters of Building Science, School of Architecture, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Energy simulation in passive design: tools for considering the invisible

Author and Presenter: Martha Bohm, University at Buffalo, Suny, Buffalo, NY

Comparison of solar evaluation tools: from learning to practice

Authors: Alison G. Kwok, Sophia Duluk, Heather Nelson, Toshi Woudenberg
Presenter: Sophia Duluk, Architecture, University of Oregon, Eugene

A Parametric Study of the Thermal Performance of Green Roofs through Energy Modeling

Authors: Sananda Mukherjee, Pablo La Roche, Kyle Konis, Joon-ho Choi
Presenter: Sananda Mukherjee, Master of Building Science, Architecture, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Too much of a good thing? Southern glazing percentages + shoulder season comfort issues in a passive house in climate zone 4

Authors:Michael Hindle, Jay Hall
Presenter: Michael Hindle, MFA, Passive House Alliance-US, Capital Chapter, Elkridge, MA
Affiliations: Passive House Alliance-US, Urbana, Illinois; Hamel Green, Elkridge, MD; Jay Hall and Associates, Annapolis, MD

1:30-3:00 PM Materials, Assemblies, & Building Elements

Presenters:Christopher Meek, Wendell Colson, Marc Perez, Mona Azarbayjani


Toward net-zero energy buildings with energy-harvesting electrochromic windows

Authors: Christopher Meek, Amanda Bruot
Presenter:Christopher Meek, M. Arch, Architecture, University of Washington, Seattle

 The solar window project

Author and Presenter: Wendell Colson, AB, Architecture, Princeton, Hunter Douglas, Natick, MA

Update: the green-roof integrated pv canopy study at bronx design and construction academy

Authors: Marc Perez, Vasilis Fthenakis, Wade Mcgillis, Nathaniel Wight, Christina Ho, Noel Cruz, Elton Hollingsworth
Presenter: Marc Perez, B.A., B.S., M.S., M.phil., Earth and Environmental Engineering, Columbia University, New York, NY
Affiliations: Columbia University, New York, NY; Bronx Design and Construction Academy, Bronx, NY

Simulation for optimum angle of movable pv system- towards net zero energy house

Authors: Mona Azarbayjani, Ben Futrel, Dong Lee
Presenter: Mona Azarbayjani, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

3:30-5:00 PM Passive Conference Ignite!

Presenters: Troy Peters, Troy Peters, Troy Peters, Franziska Amacher, Drew Gillett, Antonia Dinatale, Kelly Ryan, Dominique Doberneck, Troy Peters, Troy Peters, Scott Burger

More details on each presenter/presentation below.

Technical translations

Authors and Presenter: Troy PetersWentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, MA

Modeling comfort for passive solar savings 

Authors and Presenter: Troy PetersWentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, MA

Its complicated: choosing the best type of glazing for a passive solar building

Authors and Presenter: Troy PetersWentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, MA

Net Zero Two Family – A renovated building in a dense old urban neighborhood in Metro Boston – THE DAVIS HOUSE – The Architect’s Perspective

Authors and Presenter: Franziska Amacher, AMACHER & ASSOCIATES, Architects, Cambridge, MA

Net Zero Two Family – A renovated building in a dense old urban neighborhood in Metro Boston – THE DAVIS HOUSE – The Engineer’s Perspective

Authors and Presenter: Drew Gillett, Solar Engineers Bedford, NH

The renewable energy and ecological design department’s solar garage at green mountain college

Authors:  Antonia Dinatale, Steven Letendre
Presenter: Antonia Dinatale, Green Mountain College, Poultney, VT

The SEED Library

Authors: Kelly Ryan, Bethany Drab, Travis Creighton, Adam Phoebe 
Presenter: Kelly Ryan, Penn State University, University Park, PA

Heliodon: a hands-on daylighting educational tool

Authors: Dominique Doberneck, Kara Knechtel,
Presenter: Dominique Doberneck, Architecture, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA

Smartphone and Daylight

Authors and Presenter: Troy PetersWentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, MA

 Teaching zero-net energy design in a non studio setting

Authors and Presenter: Troy PetersWentworth Institute of Technology, Boston, MA

Plane of array irradiation comparison of measurement to modeled: a case study at the Philadelphia navy yard

Authors: Scott Burger, Lucas Witmer, Jeffrey Brownson
Presenter: Scott Burger, Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA

Friday, April 20

8:30-10:00 AM Moving Toward ZNE

Presenters: Ramana Koti, Melissa Anderson, Lucas Witmer, Ulrike Passe, Craig Clark

More details on each presenter/presentation below.

Opportunities and challenges in employing energy analysis early in the integrated design process

Authors: Ramana Koti, Alissa Feucht
Presenter: Ramana Koti, Lord, Aeck & Sargent, Inc., Atlanta, GA

Zero net energy education: are we there yet?

Authors: Melissa Anderson, Alison Kwok, Thomas Collins
Presenter: Melissa Anderson, University of Oregon, Eugene

Retrocommissioning a small commercial building to achieve net-zero energy

Authors: Lucas Witmer, Andrew Poerschke, Mark Witman, Jeffrey Brownson
Presenter: Lucas Witmer, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA

Fine tuning passive and active solar design interaction: preliminary measured performance results

Authors: Shan He, Ulrike Passe
Presenter: Ulrike Passe, Dipl.-Ing., Architecture, Iowa State University, Ames

Displaying the benefits of a zero energy home- a monitoring case study

Authors: Craig Clark, David Kostick
Presenter: Craig Clark, B.S M.S, Alfred State College, School of Applied Technology, Wellsville, NY

1:30-3:00 PM Forum- The Solar Side of NZE Buildings

Session Chair: David Panich


  • Scotte Elliott, Electrical Engineer, Metro CD Engineering, LLC
  • Steven Strong, President, Solar Design Associates, LLC
  • Michael Nicklas, President, Innovative Design

With ambitious plans to implement net-zero energy buildings, stakeholders must consider feasible and cost-effective solutions for on-site renewable energy generation.  Solar energy is uniquely positioned to serve this function. Hear from professionals who will discuss how to incorporate solar energy generation into residential and commercial building designs, which coupled with high-performance building strategies and other renewable technologies, can lead to achieving net-zero energy status.

3:30-5:30 PM    Emerging Architecture Forum- The Mythic Modern: Mythology, Ecology and Technology…The Spirit of Place

This session explores less the technical “how” or the “what” about passive solar design, but more so the “why”. Why does solar architecture still drive the hearts and minds of our clientele and the population as a whole when it does so little of the heavy lifting? Why does the yearning for nature always overwhelm us more than the nuts and bolts, especially for winning commissions? How is it that the mythical aspect of the sun can command so much allure Where else can architects search for such powerfully persuasive poetics? The heart of the talk is that vanishing cultural poetics is a far greater cry for architects and without understanding the mythical modern aspects missing today, ideas like passive solar will fade into their own sunsets.