Passive Design at Taman Petanu

Passive design is design that doesn’t need mechanical heating or cooling. Buildings that are passively designed take advantage of natural climate to maintain thermal comfort.

Passive design basically means designing for the climate and considering the buildings’ orientation. Well designed building envelopes (the roof, walls, windows, floors and internal walls of buildings) maximize cooling air movement and exclude sun.

Incorporating the principles of passive design in the Taman Petanu Eco Neighborhood’s development:

  • Significantly improves the quality of environmental comfort for the residents
  • Saves energy, in fact it pretty much eliminates the need for cooling bills
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions from cooling, mechanical ventilation and lighting
 Have a look at this introductory video that covers some of the basic principles of passive cooling in Spain...

Basic principles of passive cooling design for tropical climates

working with natural elements landscapes supporting passive design appropriate insulation of buildings traditional roof designs
  • Site for exposure to breezes and shading all year
  • Use of light colored roofs and walls to reflect more solar radiation and reduce heat gain
  • Elevate buildings to permit airflow beneath floors & consider high or raked ceilings
  • Provide shaded outdoor living areas
  • Design and build for cyclonic conditions
  • Use lightweight construction include thermal mass where diurnal range is significant
  • Maximize external wall areas (plans ideally one room deep) to encourage movement of breezes through the building (cross ventilation)
  • Use evaporative cooling or ceiling fans
  • Allow passive solar access in cooler months only
  • Shade all east and west walls year round
  • Use reflective and bulk insulation (especially if the house is air-conditioned) and vapor barriers
  • Orientation for exposure to cooling breezes
  • Increase natural ventilation by reducing barriers to air paths through the building
  • Provide paths for warm air to exit the building
  • Floor plan zoning to maximise comfort for daytime activities and sleeping comfort
  • Appropriate windows and glazing to minimise unwanted heat gains and maximise ventilation (less windows, more open air flow is better)

shutters that can channel wind as needed awnings and shades in this tropical climate traditional Indonesian buildings show principles
  • Effective shading (including planting shading species in strategic locations)
  • Adequate levels of appropriate insulation
  • Maximise the indoor/outdoor relationship and provide appropriate screened, shaded, rain protected outdoor living spaces
  • Maximise convective ventilation with high-level windows, ceiling and roof space vents
  • Design ceilings and furnishing positions for optimum efficiency of fans, cool breezes and convective ventilation
  • Locate mechanically cooled rooms in thermally protected areas
  • Adjust eve overhangs to suit the particular micro-climate
  • Include evaporative cooling and water features

Basic principles of passive design for humidity control

  • High humidity levels limit the body’s ability to lose heat by evaporation of perspiration. Sleeping comfort is a significant issue – especially during periods of high humidity.
  • Design eaves and shading to permanently exclude solar access to rooms
  • Consider shading the whole building with a fly roof
  • Maximize shaded external wall areas and exposure to (and funneling of) cooling breezes through the building
  • Use single room depths with maximum shaded openings to enhance cross ventilation and heat removal
  • Design unobstructed cross ventilation paths
  • Provide hot air ventilation at ceiling level for all rooms with spinnaways, shaded opening clerestorey windows or ridge vents
  • Shade outdoor areas around the house with planting and shade structures to lower ground temperatures
  • Use insulation solutions that minimise heat gain during the day and maximise heat loss at night. Advanced reflective insulation systems and reflective air spaces can be effective
  • Choose windows with maximum opening areas (louvres or casement) and avoid fixed glass panels
  • Include ceiling fans to create air movement during still periods
  • Consider using whole of house fans with smart switching to draw cooler outside air into the house at night when there is no breeze
  • Use low thermal mass construction generally. (Note: high mass construction can be beneficial in innovative, well considered design solutions).
  • Use planting design to funnel cooling breezes and filter strong winds


For more information on passive design see: