Energy and the Environment : Solar Power.
Solar power offers the peace of mind that no other energy source can provide, a clean, reliable, and noise free energy source. The sun provides energy for many of the processes that takes place on earth such as photosynthesis and climate control, therefore it seems only reasonable the we attempt to use some of this vast supply of energy in an effort to create an alternative power source to fossil fuels. Solar power is used throughout the world in various applications, whether it provides power to pump drinking water in Africa or is integrated into a commercial building in London.
Solar technologies use the sun's energy and light to provide heat, light, hot water, electricity, and even cooling, for homes, businesses, and industry. Windows are probably the first and simplest use of the sun's energy using natural sunlight to light a building's interior. Daylight in businesses and commercial buildings can result in substantial savings on electric bills, and not only provides a higher quality of light, but also improves productivity and health. Daylighting in schools has improved student grades and attendance.
Passive solar heating makes use of the building components to collect, store and distribute solar heat gains. In the Northern Hemisphere, passive solar heating works best with south-facing windows. North-facing windows receive little direct solar radiation and west-facing windows receive most solar radiation in the afternoon when heating loads are low and cooling loads are high. East-facing windows contribute morning light and heat when heating loads are high. Nevertheless, because of advancements in window technology, even low U-value windows that face north can provide net heat gain. In some cases, considering the additional benefits of natural lighting and views to the outdoors, it makes more sense to locate windows on each facade. Solar gains through south-facing windows can be controlled by the use of exterior shading devices.