75% More Efficient: Blue Ridge Parkway Destintation Center

The new Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center has just been completed in North Carolina. It’s a beautifully designed building that is also highly efficient — it will use 75% less energy than a comparable conventional building. The building has Trombe walls: a very clever feature that will reduce the building’s heating load by 35% alone!

Trombe Walls On Blue Ridge Center

Trombe Walls On Blue Ridge Center

Trombe walls work like this:

  1. The sun heats the wall, causing heated air to rise in the air space. The heated air is directed into the building through vents at the top of the wall, passively drawing cooler air into the vents at the base of the wall to be heated in turn.
  2. At night, dampers close off the walls, preventing reverse thermo-siphoning (i.e., cold air from the cavity falling and entering the building at night), while heat stored in the mass walls is released throughout the night. In summer, the walls are vented at night, allowing for passive cooling.
Trombe Wall Detail

Trombe Wall Detail

Trombe walls are named for Felix Trombe, the French engineer who popularized the use of high-mass solar collectors in the 1960s.

The Center also has a planted green roof, and many other green elements. It won’t official open until April 2009.

More information can be found in EDC Magazine.

Found via Jetson Green.

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