As a builder of energy-efficient homes, I'm often approached by clients who want some form of solar energy at work in their new home or addition. A new house we recently designed and built had the two key components of a successful solar project: a great site and an enthusiastic client.

Active solar systems — which typically involve roof-mounted panels and related equipment — have been making great advances of late and are looking more attractive to a broader spectrum of homeowners. However, at my company we believe that passive solar design considerations should be applied to a design first, before expanding to active solar...

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