Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Architecture and Community Design

Major Professor

Steven Cooke, M.A.R.C.


Photovoltaic, Form, Function, Alternate, Energy


This research will strive to establish a design methodology to achieve an ideal balance or ratio between solar energy available at a given site and the electrical energy requirement of a residence in a humid subtropical climate. Solar technology should be considered as an important element of the design and not a mere energy source added after the design has been completed. The introduction of this technology should be established at the conceptual stage and evolve through the whole design process of the project. Solar energy is without doubt the best choice as an alternate to fossil fuels in Florida's humid subtropical climate, however harnessing this readily available energy source requires careful planning. Adding solar energy components during the final design stage will impact negatively on the aesthetics of the design and most likely will not provide the energy necessary to achieve sustainability.

Each climate and latitude requires different strategies to maximize available solar energy, thus the design has to adapt to the energy source of the given site. Florida's original vernacular design concepts dealt with solar energy issues in a passive way, by providing shelter from the sun and creating air circulation for evaporative cooling. Today's photovoltaic technology can activate vernacular principles and create new sustainable typologies. Unlike tropical climates, the humid subtropical deals with high relative humidity in the summer months, thus demanding the use of mechanical cooling in order to reach the required comfort zone within the building's envelope. Fortunately solar energy is readily available in Florida during the critical summer season when the largest electrical loads are required by mechanical cooling.

An "off the grid" sustainable design could be achieved if electrical energy use is minimized to the essentials, wind technology is used to complement the photovoltaic system and alternate energy sources as gas, alcohol and alike are used for other household energy demands that do not need to be of electrical type. This design criteria will allow Florida residents to experience a more fulfilling existence by interacting with nature in a more dynamic, efficient and intimate way.