6-21-09-ss-1The Summer Solstice is here! And so are the long hours of daylight, the deep green trees, and the brilliant flowers. Cool rivers and ponds are beckoning and so are our porches and decks that allow us to enjoy these views.

In the design stage, we have clients asking for the same attention to detail for the outdoor spaces as they do the indoor. After all, many have carefully selected their land for the magic that the natural elements possess.

Since the sun is rising far in the northeast and setting far in the northwest, porches on the east and west can be especially delightful right now. But even north porches or decks capture a few sunbeams this time of year.

These same porches can also shade the east and west house walls and windows. This reduces solar gain from the intense east and west sun this time of year. Even the north windows of the home receive a few sun rays beaming in during the earliest and latest part of the days. Personally, I love these surprise sun rays streaming into the house that remind me of the sun’s movement. It’s also one reason why we do not recommend a porch across the entire north side of a home.

The south windows of a home will receive surprising little direct sun since the great ball of fire is so high in the sky at noon. (To be specific its is almost 47 degrees higher than it was on Dec 21.) Actually,with a properly designed south overhang above south-facing windows, there should be no sun entering the house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. But as the sun begins to drop back down in the sky (or actually as the northern hemisphere of the earth begins to tilt away from the sun), the south windows will begin to receive a little more sun daily. Designing for the middle of summer can be one of the biggest challenges in passive solar design and why even with our sales of pre-designed or stock plans, we look carefully at the location in which the house will be built and sometimes make recommendations to modify the design for maximum comfort year-round.