Passive Solar Design at Harper College
July 09, 2009
This sequence of pictures shows the clever and effective use of small sized shades on the exterior of the Avante Center building at Harper College to optimize solar efficiency. Based on the season, the passive design uses the solar angle to shade interior spaces. The space is partially screened by adjustable louvers during the equinoxes and is totally screened by the time of the summer solstice (top left photo) when very little light is admitted reducing both glare and solar heating. However, at the low sun angles encountered in the winter months, the vast southern exposure of the building and the open louvers permits maximum sunshine (top right photo) to strike the interior of the lobby. This effectively warms the two-story commons area. Additionally, any increase in sunlight is welcomed near the time of the winter solstice. By the spring equinox (bottom left photo), the light entering the building is half shaded. A view of the louvers (bottom right photo) from the inside reveals that they’re actually quite narrow. They’re curved to shed snow and prevent ice build up, often a problem in northeastern Illinois. Harper College is located outside of Chicago, Illinois, at a latitude of approximately 41 degrees.