I am a few days late, but the sustainable building week was intense and it has taken me a few days to put together my response.
There are design concepts that were introduced that absolutely inspired me. Climate responsive design goes beyond just using a percentage of sustainable materials, and conserving energy and water through efficient appliances.
Passive solar design refers to the use of the sun's energy for the heating and cooling of living spaces. In this approach, the building itself or some element of it takes advantage of natural energy characteristics in materials and air created by exposure to the sun. Passive systems are simple, have few moving parts, and require minimal maintenance and require no mechanical systems.
Operable windows, thermal mass, and thermal chimneys are common elements found in passive design. Operable windows are simply windows that can be opened. Thermal mass refers to materials such as masonry and water that can store heat energy for extended time. Thermal mass will prevent rapid temperature fluctuations. Thermal chimneys create or reinforce the effect hot air rising to induce air movement for cooling purposes.
Wing walls are vertical exterior wall partitions placed perpendicular to adjoining windows to enhance ventilation through windows.
I am looking up some images of home design to get ideas for building in the Pacific Northwest. A passive solar heating/cooling system is very doable and from what I've seen here, can be quite beautiful. I will write more about using the angles of the winter and summer sun and ground cooling. I want to build a home with a root cellar, a sun room, a central open kitchen, and a design that mimics the natural landscape and regional climate.
I still haven't seen the Cozy Shack here on the farm. The Cozy Shack is a home that Dan built out of a shipping container. There is a lot you can do with one of those, for cheap, using recycled or renewable materials.