About the Writer
I love the confluence of passion, intelligence, sustainability and compassion. The junction of these terms are represented within efficient passive solar design.
Keya Lea Horiuchi is the editor, writer-blogger and photographer for the Green Passive Solar Magazine. She grew up in Colorado, but recently lived in New Mexico. She is a web designer, content creator, educator and filmmaker.
She has a strong creative streak that pulled her toward filmmaking. She previously produced, directed, shot and edited two documentaries.
She’s getting back into web design after finishing a year at a charter school teaching film to high school students. Here’s a video that shows how some her time has been spent. (She worked with the students to make the short film in three days.)
Keya launched this website as a creative outlet. She thinks a lot about passive solar buildings and was recently out trimming trees. She also loves to travel, garden, eat good food, have intriguing conversation, blog, ski and hike.
Here’s a day at the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.
Keya’s personal thoughts on Passive Solar building
I’m fascinated with passive solar technologies, as it seems to be an efficient way of building because of its underlying philosophy of using certain materials and pre-existing energy sources: the sun, along with glass and mass.
Being in the company of passive solar owner-builders – overwhelmingly, is like being privy to a ‘sunshine happiness club’. (When it works. It’s like being in the ‘doom and gloom club’ when it doesn’t, however, the principles of passive solar design are simple and basic.)
While some thought does need to go into the planning, design and building process of passive solar, amazingly, when it works, the notion of it seems very satisfying to its occupants. People seem to bask in the beauty that free heating and cooling methods are helping them to stay warm or cool when desired.
Effective passive solar design helps to create a warm house in the winter and a cool one in the summer, while simply, passively sitting where it has been built, utilizing the free heat energy from the sun.
After learning about the basic concepts, Itook pictures of the sun’s path across the sky on the winter and summer solstices. (There is an amazing difference in the height of the sun in the summer vs. the winter!) I took the pictures to compare and help in the design process of creating an energy efficient house.
I couldn’t find an online source of information that highlighted passive solar design with methods that are currently being used and appreciated in a practical sense. While trophy homes are sometimes nice to gawk at in an extravagant way, it’s really not practical for most people who are thinking about building a more efficient home. In talking to people, I’ve found that there are a lot of very creative, intelligent, independent people that have built their own passive solar houses. Thus, GreenPassiveSolar.com has come about.
I’m also thankful, fascinated and humbled to be able to seek out, meet and talk to people who have built in this way. Many of them have an affinity and deep appreciation for their homes because they often designed and/or built them. Most say that they love living in their passive solar homes. Once in a while I do hear about a passive solar project gone astray, by having the wrong windows or too many of them in the wrong places – making a building too hot in the summer, or about a house that doesn’t have enough thermal mass so that it quickly heats up then doesn’t retain its heat in the winter. All of these situations, however, can be examined and miscalculations within the design or build can be found. Good passive solar design incorporates a few interrelated building principles, and if used and placed well, will work brilliantly.