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Passive Thermal Comfort Strategies in Residential Projects

Thermal comfort is a critical aspect of residential design, as it plays a key role in maintaining a healthy and comfortable living environment. Passive thermal comfort strategies, which rely on natural elements such as sunlight, wind, and the thermal mass of building materials, are an effective way to achieve a comfortable and energy-efficient home. This blog post will explore some of the most effective passive thermal comfort strategies for residential projects.

© Fernando Guerra | FG+SG
Passive Solar Design:

Passive solar design is a strategy that utilizes the natural heat from the sun to warm a building. This can be achieved by incorporating south-facing windows that allow sunlight to enter the building during the winter months, while shading devices such as eaves or overhangs can be used to prevent overheating during the summer. Passive solar design can also be achieved by using thermal mass materials, such as concrete or masonry, which absorb and store heat during the day and release it during the evening to help maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

© Michel Rey Photographe

An effective sunscreen design should balance the control of solar gain during hot seasons with the admission of natural daylight and solar gain during colder seasons. There are several design elements that can achieve this goal, such as the use of brise-soleil. An example of this can be seen in the Boipeba House, which utilizes wooden slats.

Natural Ventilation:

Natural ventilation is another effective passive thermal comfort strategy that uses the natural movement of air to cool a building. This can be achieved by incorporating operable windows and skylights, as well as strategically placed vents, which allow for the movement of fresh air throughout the building. Cross-ventilation, where windows are placed on opposite walls of a room, can also be used to create a natural cooling effect. Additionally, the use of green roofs and walls can help to cool the building by providing insulation and reducing the urban heat island effect.

© Michel Rey Photographe

It is a technique that utilizes the pressure difference between two openings on opposite sides of a room to promote airflow. This technique by incorporating large sliding doors to lower the temperature of the main living area. The FVB House features red wooden lattices that allow for natural airflow throughout the residence.

Thermal Mass:

Thermal mass is the ability of a material to absorb and store heat. Materials with high thermal mass, such as concrete, masonry, or tile, are particularly effective in helping to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. By incorporating these materials into the design of a building, the thermal mass can help to regulate the temperature, keeping the building cool during the day and warm during the night. This can be especially beneficial in climates with wide temperature fluctuations.

© Andrés Flasjzer

Materials that possess high thermal capacities, such as concrete, brick, clay, and stone, can be used to regulate the indoor temperature in a building. This is evident in projects such as the Half Buried House, which employs the thermal properties of soil to adapt to the local climate, and the Family House in La Pereda, both located in Spain.

Green Roofs and Walls:

Green roofs and walls are another effective passive thermal comfort strategy. They provide insulation, reducing the amount of heat that enters the building, and also help to cool the air by releasing moisture through a process called transpiration. Additionally, green roofs and walls can also help to reduce the urban heat island effect, where temperatures in urban areas can be significantly higher than in surrounding rural areas.

© Adrià Goula

The LLP House in Spain is a noteworthy case study in passive house design. The clients requested the construction to prioritize environmental and thermal performance, which was achieved through the implementation of various strategies such as a rooftop garden, a compact building layout, solar energy capture and shading, insulation, and natural cross ventilation.


Passive thermal comfort strategies are an effective way to achieve a comfortable and energy-efficient home. By incorporating strategies such as passive solar design, natural ventilation, thermal mass, and green roofs and walls, architects and builders can create a healthy and comfortable living environment for residents. These strategies not only improve the overall well-being of the residents but also help in reducing energy consumption and the environmental impact of the building.


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