The south-facing facade of a classic solar home in the winter.

This home was built using the essential elements of solar design. The clients wanted a large living area, a built-on apartment for an aging parent and single-level living to accommodate a wheelchair. Alfred worked to develop a floor plan that could meet all of these needs and maintain a high level of energy efficiency.

The foyer has a dark slate floor of 6 inch thickness that absorbs heat all day in the winter when the sun angle is low and sunlight streams into the house all day long. The slab retains heat and stores enormous thermal energy naturally. In the summer, an overhang protects the living space from sunlight and heat by blocking the sun at its higher angle in the sky.

The back porch is doubly insulated and a cross-breeze forms in the summer, passing through the living room across the dining room and out the deck windows.

  • “Open it all up and it doesn’t take but a few minutes to cool it all down. My neighbor said ‘I’ll give you 3,000 dollars if you turn that house around (to face the road.)" I didn't do that. The neighbor has replaced his air-conditioning 3 times in 25 years - I have repaired mine once." -Client
  • “All the solar principles used in this house are very basic and have been used for thousands of years. Even the Pueblo Indians oriented their homes to the South. Animals know it instinctively.” -Al Wilson

foil-faced insulationFoil-faced foam insulation (commonly used in the 1980's though other materials are now used for the same purpose) acts as a radiant barrier on a brick house – in summer it helps to keep the house cool, in the winter it keeps heat in. The walls are thick to provide a “thermal mass” (slows the rate of heating and cooling and keeps a temperature balance.)


Bill Carscadden, brick masonBill Carscadden, brick mason, on the job site in 1983.