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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Balfour

Landscaping with Passive Solar Design

How to does Landscape design contribute to Passive Solar Design principles for your home?

Passive solar design is an approach to building design that uses the natural heat and light from the sun to provide heating, cooling, and lighting to a building. One of the key elements of passive solar design is the use of the surrounding landscape to assist in achieving optimal energy efficiency. Here are some ways to use the landscape to assist passive solar design:


The orientation of a building can have a significant impact on its energy efficiency. By positioning the building to face north (in the southern hemisphere), it can take advantage of the sun's warmth during the winter months. Landscaping elements such as trees or shrubs can be strategically placed to the western aspect to provide shade during the summer months to help prevent overheating.

Thermal mass:

Thermal mass refers to materials that can absorb and store heat. Landscaping elements such as rock formations or masonry walls can be used as thermal mass to help regulate the temperature of a building.


Wind can significantly impact the temperature of a building. Landscaping elements such as trees or hedges can be used to create a windbreak to reduce the cooling effect of wind on the building. Wind can also work to your advantage by funnelling desirable cooling winds in summer, trees and shrubs can assist with this.

Using strategically placed landscaping to improve how natural cooling breezes can improve your homes energy-efficiency.


Landscaping elements such as trees, trellises, or pergolas can be used to provide shading to windows and walls during the summer months. This can help reduce the amount of solar radiation that enters the building, reducing the need for cooling.

Trees can form an integral part of Passive Solar Design by providing shading.

Water features:

Water features such as ponds or fountains can be used to cool the air around a building through evaporative cooling. This can be especially effective in dry climates. Combined with funneling wind, a natural air conditioning system can be created.

The bottom line

Overall, incorporating the surrounding landscape into passive solar design can have a significant impact on the energy efficiency and comfort of a building. By taking advantage of natural elements such as the sun, wind, and water, we can reduce our reliance on artificial heating and cooling systems, leading to more sustainable and environmentally friendly buildings.

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