Editor’s note: The following item is republished with permission of houzz.com. See the original article: Cool Architecture for Hot Summers.

Editor’s note: The following story excerpt is republished with permission of houzz.com. See the original article: Cool Architecture for Hot Summers.

With way-above-average temperatures kicking in throughout the country, it’s been another record-breaking summer. Seems that the real possibility of climate change, whether part of the earth’s natural cycle or caused by human activity, is something we’ll all have to deal with.

The good news is that for millennia people have been designing and building houses that can keep us comfortable no matter how uncomfortable it gets outside. So maybe it’s time to rediscover these age-old building techniques and incorporate more of them into our homes.

Here are a few time-tested heat-beating ideas — and some new ones — to consider.

Choose light-colored roofing


Photo credit: Jonathan Parks Architect

We all probably learned in high school science class that the color black absorbs heat while white reflects it. This is why in the warmer climates a white or light-colored roof will repel the heat, keeping your home cooler.


Add Shade

Like shades but permanent, an overhang blocks the sun’s radiation from hitting the building directly. The beauty of these architectural devices is that they can be designed to block summer sun while allowing winter sun into the home.

modern  by Ciulla Design

Photo credit: Ciulla Design

When we lived in Singapore, a place with a hot and humid climate if there ever was one, many carried an umbrella to shade themselves from the sun as they went about their daily routine.

If an umbrella can help keep a person cooler, why not place an umbrella over the entire house? It was no surprise that the owners of the iconic Umbrella House started saving 30 percent on their air-conditioning costs after they restored the home’s “umbrella.”


Increase air circulation

traditional porch by Whitten Architects

Photo credit: Whitten Architects

Operable windows, especially those that are properly shaded, can keep the interior nice and cool. Windows such as these transom types can be left open at night to let in the cooler evening air.


Add mass

contemporary exterior by Carson Poetzl, Inc.

Photo credit: Carson Poetzl, Inc.

Building with concrete and masonry helps keep houses in warmer climates cooler. The mass of the construction absorbs daytime heat, releasing the heat at night when temperatures are cooler. An excellent way to achieve this mass is to use insulated concrete form (ICF) construction, as this show home from the 2012 International Builders Show in Orlando, Fla., does.

Adobe construction is another building technique that relies on adding mass. In use for thousands of years, adobe construction is a great way to keep the house cool naturally, especially when combined with recessed windows that are kept in the shade during summer.


Create a cool courtyard

contemporary living room by Koch Architects, Inc.  Joanne Koch

Photo credit: Koch Architects, Inc. Joanne Koch

Courtyards are domestic oases, especially with some plantings and a water feature or two. Perhaps add a pergola or other shading device as well to keep the area even cooler. And make sure all the rooms that front the courtyard have big windows and doors to take advantage of the cooling effects of this space.

More from houzz.com:

Copyright houzz.com 2012

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