In these times of climate change, many new technologies are available to enable greater energy efficiency. Households can start with the “low hanging fruit” by utilizing LED lighting, on-site solar and storage, upgrades to air conditioning units with modern inverters.
Fortunately, these new technologies are becoming more common, and therefore more accessible. While they all contribute something to greater energy efficiency, in the end they are still technologies that require manufacturing and distribution. There is another approach to energy efficiency, which requires no purchase of manufactured goods, but rather is cemented into a building’s performance by using the power of design. This approach is known as passive performance.
Passive performance is when a building performs functions, including heating or cooling, without using excess energy. In some extreme examples, buildings can even produce more energy than they consume, by harvesting solar, wind, or geothermal energy onsite.
My company Italpinas Development Corp (IDC) utilizes passive performance strategies for its climate control technologies. Our projects benefit from strategic shading, to avoid the strongest rays of the sun, designing for proper ventilation and airflow without the use of electric equipment, and applying open floorplans in order to maximize fresh air. While this may sound simple, it requires mindful work from the building’s designers and architects, in order for simple solutions to be elegant and effective.
As an advocate of sustainability, the use of solar energy is also part of our designs. Buildings such as our Primavera Residences offer a unique economy of scale for the deployment of solar panels, because of ample rooftop space for installation. In our Primavera City project, we designed semi- transparent control panels as a canopy over public areas, in order to provide shade from the heat and produce power at the same time.
Solutions for energy efficiency do more than save the environment. They also lower the cost of living for individual households by decreasing reliance on energy-hungry utilities such as air conditioning. While many technological advances are ready to increase the efficiency of the machines that we use, passive performance is also an important fundamental design element that should be present in all our habitats. With buildings that are designed to breathe well, and illuminate well, our homes can be naturally healthy and comfortable, with the use of air-conditioning and other technology as a complement rather than a constant necessity.
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