We know about putting solar energy on our roofs. It’s less common to see vertical surfaces used to capture the energy of the sun, but the south facing wall of a large building is a huge solar opportunity. It doesn’t need any sophisticated technological solutions either. Since the future needs both, here are two different ways to create a solar wall, one low tech and one high tech.
First of all, the low tech version. During the 1960s French architects experimented with passive solar walls. They are created by placing a glass wall a few inches from a south-facing outer wall, so that heat is trapped in the gap. (I was reminded of this yesterday while walking through a very warm south-facing glass corridor at a school.)
Vents are added at the bottom of the wall and the top, so that warm air can be funneled into the building as…
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