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The Sun-Inspired House Book Cover

The Sun-Inspired House Book Cover

If you want to learn about the benefits of a passive solar home and how to approach the custom design and building process, you might want to pick up a copy of my book, The Sun-Inspired House.

The book covers the underlying principles of using sun and light to energize a home and the prerequisites involved in a sustainable or green design. With information on selecting and working with a builder, a primer on energy analysis and rating systems, and over 50 sun-inspired designs to peruse, this book is an excellent source of information for anyone considering building a passive solar home.

One of my favorite energy writers, Martin Holladay, wrote a very honest review of the book last summer comparing it to other popular books on passive solar. See more about him and the review in “Musings of an Energy Nerd.”


martin_holladay_250The Sun-Inspired House Book Review by Popular “Energy Nerd” Martin Holladay

As editor of the Energy Design Update, Martin Holladay wrote a review of my book in the July 2008 issue:

“The Sun-Inspired House, a 247-page book by architect Debra Rucker Coleman, may be the best available introduction to passive solar design. Coleman’s book is much more useful than three better- known books on the topic:…”

Later that year, Holladay joined the team as senior editor where his “Musings of an Energy Nerd” blog is one of my favorites. It is always chock full of interesting information on energy savings and green approaches.

Musings of an Energy Nerd
Martin Holladay’s new blog at Green Building Advisor is a favorite.

 Read his full review here:

Sun Plans Sunset Bungalow

Sun Plans Sunset Bungalow -reversed

This charming 3-bedroom, 2-bath bungalow makes the most of passive solar energy by smart placement of the home on available land, use of south-facing windows, and heat-absorbing, colored concrete floors.

The small, custom designed windows and other colorful craftsman touches by Rachael Bighley illustrate that this builder also goes above and beyond the minimum in the delightful finishing details.

This home saves energy by requiring less artificial light during the day and less heating and air conditioning all year long. Forty percent of the Sunset Bungalow’s heat is estimated to be supplied by the sun. This home was ENERGY STAR certified by a H.E.R.S.(home energy rated services) Rater.

Sun Plans Sunset Bungalow sun railing

Owners included a sun railing in the Sun Plans' Sunset Bungalow home.

Features by Sun Plans and Mark Bighley Construction:
· 10 percent glass on the long, south wall
· Bright sky tubes that lighten interior spaces
· Selective north, east, and west windows to add balanced light and increase passive cooling
· Below-slab insulation underneath concrete slab on grade construction
· Colored, polished concrete floors to absorb sun’s heat
· South windows .59 SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) –using 59% of available sun’s heat
· North, East, West windows .33 SHGC (higher reflectivity keeps out unwanted sun)
· Sprayed foam insulation in ceiling and walls
· Blower door tested low air infiltration
· Energy Recovery Ventilator
· 3 ton 14 SEER Air conditioner
· 94 AFUE fuel-fired air distribution
· Programmable Thermostat
· Energy Star appliances, lights, fans
· Pre-plumbed for active solar

While saving energy was the goal, this home became “green” in other ways as well:
· Carport instead of garage to minimize dangerous air pollutants from vehicles, paint, or gasoline
· No VOCs: paints, sealants and solvents that contained no volatile organic compounds
· Metal roof designed to collect rainwater for use
· Vegetation cleared from the land was recycled for use in the final landscaping
· Ground cover, native grasses and flower seeds minimized the need for irrigation

Click here to see more images of this beautiful home:

Mark Bighley built the featured passive solar home above (Sunset Bungalow-Reversed) and his wife, Rachel, created the unique, Sun Cast custom windows.

Mark Bighley Construction

Mark Bighley Construction, an Energy Star builder

They took a personal, hands-on approach to create a high performance home. Going out on a limb to build this home, Bighley was justified when the Sunset Bungalow sold just two weeks after it was placed on the market.

The combination of a sun-inspired design from Sun Plans along with Energy Star Certification, high-performance construction, green product selection, and artistic finishes are something to consider when building an energy-efficient home.

Energy Star Logo

Click on logo to find an Energy Star builder near you!

TIP: Start looking for builders and home energy raters before you build!

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy designed to help individuals save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

ENERGY STAR choices save money on energy bills and meet strict energy guidelines set by the EPA and US Department of Energy.

Sun Plans Inc. designs house plans with specifications that allow the home to achieve Energy Star certification when construction is overseen and verified by a third party Energy Star H.E.R.S. Rater. Although a rater can review the construction of a builder who has not previously built to Enery Star standards, the link below will assist in locating a builder with Energy Star experience.

In October, tour a Sun Plans sun-inspired home in eastern North Carolina.

Watch for the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) National Solar Tour near you! It features active solar tours with some passive solar and green building at various sites throughout the U.S.

If you are near Greenville, NC (eastern), in October 2009, check out one of our clients who are showing their Sun Plans’ Solstice home.

The home, designed by Sun Plans Inc., is named the “Solstice” and images of this an be found at Solar tour_logo

3D Design

Sun Plans are available in 3D!

This is the best time of year to start a custom design with Sun Plans Inc.! Spring is our busiest time of year and may mean a long lead time.

Most of our custom clients are choosing our 3D services to help them better visualize their future home. Some who are requesting changes to pre-designed plans are also choosing 3D.

See our 3D page, a link only available for our e-mail subscribers. Please note that some designs may not yet be available on our Web site since they may be designs in progress.

July 2018
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