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Building & Selling Solar Homes


The rapid rise in energy costs will help guide planning and building in the future. Subdivision scale is ideal because building orientation can be properly included in the land use plan and street orientation. This can have a marketable short term and life cycle cost savings. The seller should carefully explain how the passive solar system works and what, if anything, the homeowner must do to operate and maintain it. This will go a long way toward making the sale, helping the solar system operate efficiently, and keeping the buyer happy. Instructions should include phone numbers for the buyer to call for additional information or assistance with maintenance or repair. 

Both passive and active solar systems require exposure to the sun for heating or generating electricity. A passive system may also benefit from good exposure to the night sky for cooling. The basic environmental and site factors which affect solar access include: climate and microclimate; latitude; topography; trees and landscaping; and human activities and structures. In some areas solar rights protect investments in solar systems. In California the Solar Shade Control Act was passed in 1979 to protect systems from shading by neighboring trees. In 1986 passive system protection was removed in the case of Sher v. Leiderman, 181 Cal. App. 3d 867, 883 (1986).


Construction cost, natural heating and cooling, renewable materials, energy use estimates, comfort, operation of windows and shades. Sun path, solar systems, solar exposure, solar rights, solar access, shading, trees, landscaping, street orientation.


Bainbridge, D. A. 1980. Building and Selling the Solar Home. California Solar Business Office for the Solar Energy Research Institute, Golden, CO. 48 p. 

Bainbridge, D. A. 1982. Sun Ridge: a subdivision for the '80s. Sun. 6(1):8-9.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1980. Passive solar is more comfortable. Solar Greenhouse Digest. #10. 10-11,45.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1980. Solar apartments here and now. Winds of Change. 2(1):1,3.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1981. How to help your home help you: Homeowner’s Manual. Sun Ridge Homes, Rio Linda, CA.

Bainbridge, D. A. and J. Hammond. 1976. The Davis energy conservation building ordinances. Living Systems.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1978. Bainbridge house: a passive house for the mass market. Alternative Sources of Energy. 33:22-24.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1979. Water wall solar home for the sunbelt. Solar Greenhouse Digest. (Aug./Sept.). 6:15.

Bainbridge, D. A. and J. Hofacre. 1978. Passive solar house plan. PSI.

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