Passive Solar Heating

Judy Fosdick
Posted on: 4/27/2020 - Updated on: 7/08/2022

Posted by




Passive solar heating is one of several design approaches collectively called passive solar design. When combined properly, these strategies can contribute to the heating, cooling, and daylighting of nearly any building. The types of buildings that benefit from the application of passive solar heating range from barracks to large maintenance facilities.

Typically, passive solar heating involves:

  • The collection of solar energy through properly-oriented, south-facing windows.
  • The storage of this energy in "thermal mass," comprised of building materials with high heat capacity such as concrete slabs, brick walls, or tile floors.
  • The natural distribution of the stored solar energy back to the living space, when required, through the mechanisms of natural convection and radiation.
  • Window specifications to allow higher solar heat gain coefficient in south glazing.

This overview is intended to provide specific details for Federal agencies considering passive solar heating technologies as part of a new construction project or major renovation.