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Passive Solar Overview


Passive solar design was first clearly understood by the Greek and Roman architects. Facing very high costs for imported charcoal they developed innovative building designs that utilized the sun for heating and microclimate resources for cooling. The importance of the sun led to the development of the first solar cities and solar rights. Passive solar design was also included in many other traditional buildings systems, from China to India, the tropics to northern climes. But these lessons were forgotten in the dark Ages and more recently, the fossil fool age.


The energy crises of 1973 and 1979 triggered Federal and private investment in solar design, including passive solar systems. Up to this point the elements of passive solar architecture had emerged as orientation, south facing windows, solar control to limit overheating in summer, and ventilation. Using these alone it was possible to reduce building energy use dramatically but more could be done if this was seen as a systems problem where cooling was equally important.


Passive solar design strategies can improve the comfort and performance of buildings in any climate. In many areas these buildings can be built a cost equal to conventional buildings. Passive solar design can provide comfort and security from the low deserts of Arizona and California to the icy winters of Alaska. These buildings save money for owners and improve security, and also reduce peak power demand. The energy and financial savings over the lifetime of these naturally heated and cooled buildings can help improve the outlook for California and for the world by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and providing security in an ever more vulnerable world.


Passive solar heating, cooling, daylighting, thermal mass, super-insulation, solar orientation, sun path, solar access, solar rights, microclimate, night sky radiation, comfort, quiet, health, windows, wind direction, convective energy transfer, conduction, insulation, roof color, evaporative cooler, indirect evaporative cooler, radiant cooling, cool pool, roof pond, insulated shutters, shades, solar-tubes, village homes, water walls, integral water heaters, water tanks, adobe, straw bale, cob, straw clay, solar history, Rome, Keck, Tod Neubauer, Jon Hammond, Ken Haggard, Peter van Dresser, Phil Niles, Polly Cooper, SLOSG, Indigo


Bainbridge, D. A. 2011. Passive Solar Architecture. PPT

Bainbridge, D. A. 2009. A Solar History. PPT

Bainbridge, D. A. and K. Haggard. 2011. Passive Solar Architecture. Chelsea Green. White River Junction, VT. 

Bainbridge, D. A., K. Haggard and R. Aljilani. 2009. Passive Solar Architecture: Pocket Reference. International Solar Energy Society. Freiburg, Germany. 90 p. 

Bainbridge, D. A. 1983. Water Wall Passive Solar Design Manual. SUN, Bascom, OH. 60 p.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1980. The Second Passive Solar Catalog-A Mini-Encyclopedia. Passive Solar Institute, Davis, CA. 115 p. 

Corbett, J., D. A. Bainbridge and J. Hofacre. 1979. Village Homes' Solar House Designs. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA. 188 p.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1979. The First Passive Solar Catalog. Passive Solar Institute, Davis, CA. 72 p.

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. 1981. Hinged shutters. pp 357-362. Moved-In Mass. pp. 436-449. Air conditioning without air conditioners, pp. 583-617. In J. Carter, ed. Solarizing Your Present Home. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1980. Design details. In P. Niles and K. Haggard, eds. California Passive Solar Handbook. California Energy Commission, Sacramento, CA.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1980. Making insulated bifold shutters. pp. 292-298. In W. Langdon, ed. Movable Insulation. Rodale Books, Emmaus, PA.

Haggard, K., L. Schlussler and D. A. Bainbridge. 2010. Seeing the invisible: Passive solar heating and window glass. Solar Today. 24(May):16,18.

Haggard, K. and D. A. Bainbridge. 2009. Passive solar. Solar Today. Fall/Winter, Special Edition. 23(8):32-33.

Bainbridge, D. A., K. Haggard and P. Cooper. 2007. Water walls: an effective option for high-performance buildings. Solar Today. July/August, 38-41.

Bainbridge, D. A. 2014. Air conditioning without air conditioners: Part 1: The cool pool.

Bainbridge, D. A. 2015. Indirect evaporative coolers. Mother Earth News. June/July.

Bainbridge, D. A. 2005. A solar workshop for college students. Society of Building Science Educators News. Spring:4. 

Bainbridge, D. A. 1997. Creating a solar home or apartment. San Diego Earth Times. June. 9.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1987. Energy self-reliant neighborhoods. pp. 398-402. In D. A. Andrejko and J. Hayes, eds. 12th Passive Solar Conference Proceedings, American Section International Solar Energy Society (ASISES), Boulder, CO.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1984. Solar facts for realtors. Solar Utilization News. April:8(10):14. 

Bainbridge, D. A. 1984. Super-insulation in the Northwest. Solar Utilization News. August: 9(2):6.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1984. Sunrise on the farm; Passive solar design. Acres USA. 13(2):1,6.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1983. Build a water wall solar home. Mother Earth News. #84 Nov./Dec.:114-116.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1982. Super-insulated home uses passive solar. Solar Utilization News. 6(11):5.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1982. Passive solar heating and cooling with a water wall. Northern California Sun 8(5):4.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1982. Tips on installing a passive solar water wall system. Alternative Sources of Energy. #55. 42-43.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1982. Microclimate. Fine Homebuilding. (June/July) 9:14-16.

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

Bainbridge, D. A. and D. Long. 1980. Heat-trapping shutters. Organic Gardening. January. 120-124.

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. 1979. Waterwall passive solar systems for new and retrofit buildings. pp 473-478. In Proceedings of the Third Passive Solar Conference, American Section International Solar Energy Association, San Jose, CA.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1979. Passive heating and cooling. Winds of Change 1(3):5.

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

Bainbridge, D. A. 1979. How to build a waterwall. Solar Age. 4(8):38-41.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1978. Indio Cool Pool experiment. Alternative Sources of Energy. 32:6-10.

Bainbridge, D. A. and M. Hunt. 1978. The Davis Experience. Solar Age. 3(5):20-26. (reprinted in Resettling America 1981.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1978. Natural cooling: practical use of climate resources for space conditioning in California. B. Clark, ed. 3rd Workshop on the use of Solar Energy for Cooling of Buildings. DOE/University of Colorado. 27-28.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1978. Natural cooling: practical use of climate resources for space conditioning in California. pp 138-153. In E. F. Clark, and F. de Winter, eds. Proceedings of the 3rd Workshop on the Use of Solar Energy for the Cooling of Buildings, San Francisco, California, U.S. Department of Energy/University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.

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

Bainbridge, D. A. and M. Hunt. 1978. California's new solar tax credit. Solar Age (June):29-31.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1976. The Davis energy conservation building ordinances. Design and Environment. (Summer): notes.

Hammond, J. and D. A. Bainbridge. 1975. Solar heating and cooling guidelines for windows by Jon Hammond and David Bainbridge. Mother Earth News. Nov/Dec.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1975. Jon Hammond: another quiet solar pioneer. Mother Earth News. (Nov.) #36:120-125.

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

DeAngelis, M., D. A. Bainbridge, M. Hunt, J. Lerner, J. Reiss, J. Reyneveld and S. Garfield. 1978. Staff Report in Support of Interim Guidelines & Criteria Proposed for Adoption in Title 20, Chapter 2 of the California Administrative Code (solar tax credit). CEC, Sacramento, CA. 

Bainbridge, D. A. with M. DeAngelis and M. Hunt. 1978. Direct thermal systems, in the Solar Tax Credit Guidelines, California Energy Commission/Franchise Tax Board, Sacramento, CA.

Bainbridge, D. A., D. Kazama, B. Maeda, and the Direct Solar Team. 1978. California Solar Houses: Bakersfield and Inyokern. Solar Office, California Energy Commission, Sacramento, CA. 18 p.

Bainbridge, D. A., M. Hunt, D. Kazama, J. Reiss and B. Maeda. 1978. A Simple Solar House for California: Case Studies for the Seven Major Growth Areas. Solar Office, California Energy Commission, Sacramento, CA. 15 p.

Bainbridge, D. A. 1978. Natural Cooling. Solar Office, California Energy Commission, Sacramento, CA. 10 p.

Anson, D., D. A. Bainbridge, J. Hammond and B. Maeda. 1977. Performance requirements for solar homes. Living Systems for the City of Davis, CA. 16 p. 

Bainbridge, D. A. 1977. California solar tax credits: passive solar section, California Energy Commission, Sacramento, CA.

Hammond, J., D. A. Bainbridge, et al. 1977. The Davis Energy Conservation Report: Practical Use of the Sun. Living Systems, Winters, CA. 

Hammond, J., S. Van der Ryn, L.W. Neubauer, D. A. Bainbridge, et al. 1976. New State Office Building, Site 1. Office of the State Architect, Sacramento, CA 165 p.


2004. Passive Solar Pioneer. American Solar Energy Society.

1979. Community Energy Conservation Award. City of Davis for development and implementation of the Davis Energy Conservation Building Code. Living Systems.

1979. State of California Passive Solar Design Competition Award for Cool Pool passive cooling design. Living Systems Team.

1979. Citation by Progressive Architecture 26th Awards Program, for Site Planning for Solar Access. Jon Hammond and David Bainbridge.

1979. Progressive Architecture 26th Awards Program, for Planning Solar Neighborhoods. David Bainbridge and Bruce Melzer., Living Systems. 

1978. Special commendation from the California Energy Commission for work on the State Passive Solar Tax Credit Regulations.

1977. American Institute of Planners award for Energy Conservation in Davis Report, Living Systems.

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