Heating, Cooling & Ventilation: The Natural Way



View more projects at LouLevyConstruction.com

Our planet and its ecosystems have inherent designs that were engineered to sustain and fulfill the needs of all the life that inhabits them. So it makes sense that we can use natural elements—earth, air, fire and water—to create a comfortable, healthy balance within the ecosystem we call our home.

Passive solar heating makes the best use of the radiant heat of the sun though strategic placement and design of windows and skylights. The sun warms certain home surfaces containing thermal mass, like walls and floors made of stone, tile or brick, or even interior water containers and ponds. The heat is stored within the mass and released slowly, as radiant heat, over a period of time. Properly designed roof overhangs and the use of deciduous trees, trellises and vines will prevent overheating during the hotter seasons.

Solar hot water heating panels can supply a radiant floor heating system that is also looped into the walls of a masonry air-tight fireplace or a gas hot water heater as an additional heating source.      

A healthy home ecosystem also capitalizes on natural ventilation achieved through a few basic design principles. In warm weather, windows placed on two adjacent or opposite walls will promote ventilation within rooms. Cupolas, skylights or a clerestory with active windows boost the natural stack effect (hot air rising to create ventilation) and cooling, with reversible ceiling fans used to augment air flow. In cool weather, the fans can be used to circulate warm air that has accumulated at the ceiling back toward the floor.

A central fresh air ventilation system with a heat exchanger can be used during the winter to circulate outside air into a house with minimal ductwork and heat it to ambient room temperatures through a passive air exchanger system.

The earth maintains a year-round ambient temperature of 52 degrees three to four feet below the surface. Therefore a home, home addition or attached greenhouse can be bermed, or sunken, on one to three sides to take advantage of both thermal mass and passive solar principles. The structure’s thermal mass will maintain the earth’s cool temperature and keep the related interior environment cool, as well. A two-foot-deep crushed rock bed can also be created beneath the finished grade-level floors, with ductwork buried in the rock bed. This will pick up the ambient cool temperatures, which can then be circulated throughout the house.

Water, particularly running water, also acts as a natural coolant. A “waterwall,” waterfall or flow-form system can be created and augmented with a ceiling or free-standing fan that blows on the surface of the water.

All these building techniques rely on the simple principles of nature and physics. In the end, a truly sustainable house needs little more than what Mother Nature has provided, with a few added technological elements.

Lou Levy Construction is located in Carmel, NY. For more info, call 914.804.2120 or visit LouLevyConstruction.com.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

News Briefs

New Movie Explores Dangers of Agricultural Chemicals

New Movie Explores Dangers of Agricultural Chemicals

Documenting the link between agricultural chemicals and disease
Alternatives to Violence Project Hosts Workshop in Scarsdale

Alternatives to Violence Project Hosts Workshop in Scarsdale

August 10 to 12
Summer Camp, Fall Retreat Provide Breast Cancer Support 

Summer Camp, Fall Retreat Provide Breast Cancer Support 

“Camp Lightheart has been an overwhelming success.”
Balance Studio Makes Mind-Body Wellness Affordable

Balance Studio Makes Mind-Body Wellness Affordable

Offering a variety of affordable mind-body classes and services provided by a community of licensed independent contractors.
Poughkeepsie Students Study Watershed Pollution

Poughkeepsie Students Study Watershed Pollution

High school students are leading an effort to understand sources of pollution in Poughkeepsie’s Fallkill Creek, a tributary of the Hudson River.
Greenburgh Nature Center Holds Family Campout

Greenburgh Nature Center Holds Family Campout

5:30 p.m. on August 11 to 8:30 a.m. on August 12
Merritt Bookstore Hosts Course in Writing for Children

Merritt Bookstore Hosts Course in Writing for Children

August 14, 16, 21 and 23, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Free Holistic Networking Event in Ossining

Free Holistic Networking Event in Ossining

August 22, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Permaculture Training Begins September 15 in Dobbs Ferry

Permaculture Training Begins September 15 in Dobbs Ferry

September 15, September 22, October 20 and November 3, 10 and 17
Summer Fun on the Science Barge in Yonkers

Summer Fun on the Science Barge in Yonkers

Special activities for children, lectures for adults and hands-on events for everyone.
Local Farm Supports Programs for Children with Special Needs

Local Farm Supports Programs for Children with Special Needs

Students learn to interact with nature as they learn about and become responsible for the many plants while discovering new skills.
StepWISENow Programs Prevent Falls by Improving Balance

StepWISENow Programs Prevent Falls by Improving Balance

"Studies show that one hour of tai chi twice a week for six months can make a meaningful difference in one’s mobility and stability."
Learn about Blue Rock School’s Unique Kindergarten Program

Learn about Blue Rock School’s Unique Kindergarten Program

Free event for 4-and 5-year-olds and their parents on October 20, from 10 a.m. to noon
Birth Network Supports Hudson Valley Parents

Birth Network Supports Hudson Valley Parents

A consortium of professionals who work with women and families around pregnancy, birth, postpartum and parenting.
Shamanic Healing Trainings Set for October, November

Shamanic Healing Trainings Set for October, November

October 20-21 and again November 10-11, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.
Armonk Workshop Taps into Angelic Guidance

Armonk Workshop Taps into Angelic Guidance

August 17, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Popular Sweet Corn Now Available at Three Feathers Farm

Popular Sweet Corn Now Available at Three Feathers Farm

"We’ve been told that we have the best corn around.”
Dutchess Kids Eat Free through Summer Meals Program

Dutchess Kids Eat Free through Summer Meals Program

They are free to all children and teens 18 and younger who come to one of the summer meals sites.
Sensory Support Calms Students with Special Needs

Sensory Support Calms Students with Special Needs

The converted classroom, outfitted with furniture, activities and personal items, allows students to practice calming strategies in a safe and isolated place.
U-Pick Vegetables at Hilltop Hanover Farm

U-Pick Vegetables at Hilltop Hanover Farm

“It’s a great way to get your hands dirty and be a part of the farm-to-table community."
Glycine Is Key to Anti-Inflammatory Supplement 

Glycine Is Key to Anti-Inflammatory Supplement 

“The four horsemen of the medical apocalypse—coronary artery disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's—may be riding the same steed: inflammation.”
Tacos & Cones Now Open on Main Street in Pawling

Tacos & Cones Now Open on Main Street in Pawling

The shop will have a walk-up window and outdoor picnic tables where the community can gather.
nOMad’s Summer Series Brings Yoga Community Together

nOMad’s Summer Series Brings Yoga Community Together

Weekly through September 20, at 6:30 p.m., at Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park in Beacon
Pollinator-Friendly Solar Bill Passes Unanimously

Pollinator-Friendly Solar Bill Passes Unanimously

The new bill represents an opportunity to advance solar energy while also addressing the threat of pollinator extinction, promoting the use of native plants and supporting local farmers.
Fable: From Farm to Table Launches Choice-Based CSA

Fable: From Farm to Table Launches Choice-Based CSA

This up-front purchase helps the farm invest in growing fresh, local, organic produce for the community.
NuSpecies Offers Free Consultations with Naturopathic Doctors

NuSpecies Offers Free Consultations with Naturopathic Doctors

“Over the last 12 years, we’ve helped thousands of people live better and longer.”
Monthly Forum Ties Holistic Practice, Community Outreach

Monthly Forum Ties Holistic Practice, Community Outreach

Participation is free, and donations are welcome.
Seasonal Supper at Space Features Local Food and Art

Seasonal Supper at Space Features Local Food and Art

July 21, from 7 to 10 p.m., at Space on Ryder Farm