National Geographic : 1981 Feb 28
Motley. "But the houses on the left use only half the energy of those on the right." Davis has pioneered building codes and regulations that, among other measures, require that new houses be oriented south. That way most windows can take full advantage of the sun's heat in winter. Trees, vines, overhangs, or awnings must shade windows during Davis's hot summers. Shading alone can cut air-conditioning demand in most Davis homes in half. At least two builders have found Davis's energy awareness a boon. "People began asking us for solar houses," said builder John Whitcombe. "We didn't know how to build them but we sensed a good business opportunity." So Whitcombe devised an active solar sys tem that heats a house by running water warmed in rooftop collectors through the floor slab. He had just finished a 95-unit so lar apartment complex and was working on a 120-house solar subdivision. "This solar house will cost $750 more than a conventional house," he said as we toured a home he built and lives in. "In this cli mate it will save at least $500 each year in energy costs. On the apartment complex, Energy bills are minimal at the Integral UrbanHouse (left), a projectof the Faral lones Institute in Berkeley, California.A group of biologists, engineers, and archi tects bought the house in 1974 and outfit ted it as a model of self-reliantcity living. Solar panels on the roof heat water. A wind machine, foreground, aerates an aquaculture pond. The lawn area pro duces crops pollinated by honey-making bees (right). A composting toilet (above) conserves water and,with the additionof grass and leaves, breaks human waste into an odor less, rich compost that after 21/2 years is removed (above right) and used to condi tion soil aroundflowers and trees.