Passive Heated Building Proposals
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The City of Albany looked to University of Oregon architecture students to gather climate and microclimate information for Monteith Park and use it to quantify local heating needs and monthly net solar heating resources. Student teams developed passive solar designs for park restrooms, a sunspace off the current senior center, and a greenhouse, incorporating spatial, experiential, and computational components on selected buildings and sites with the City of Albany. Students and faculty collaborated with city staff to help realize the goals of the project. Students carried out a site analysis focusing on the climate, microclimate, and any ecologies that could affect their designs. Understanding the site’s sun exposure and shading were key components to producing a well-informed design. A device called a “Solar Pathfinder” was used to determine site solar exposure and shading. Shading masks were produced to visually show how surrounding trees and structures could inhibit solar collection on a site. Off-site study mainly focused on the use of EnergyPlus, a software used to run simulations for passively heated design. Climate data from the region was used to obtain the site’s monthly solar resource and solar radiation levels. Using Climate Consultant, students studied how tilting surfaces could vary solar gain results. The “max tilt” was found to gather the maximum solar radiation during winter months. Most projects had a max tilt between 23 and 35 degrees. Common elements in design proposals included: Direct and indirect solar gain to extend the thermal comfort season into March and November; adaptable and climate oriented buildings; accessible and inclusive spaces; low cost buildings; and moveable insulation. Student designs successfully extended the thermal comfort season utilizing proper thermal mass, windows, and insulation. The use of moveable insulation was an important aspect of this project and made a notable difference in performance. However, proper performance of moveable insulation relies heavily on a quality seal around its edges. If a proper seal cannot be maintained, moveable insulation should not be used.