Feedback Readers chime in to discuss articles from past issues.

Back to the Future

I wanted to comment on the article in the recent Continuum about “A House for the Future” [Winter 2011-12].

Back in the late ’70s, there was quite a “push” for passive solar home design. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, my partner and I designed and built passive solar homes, office buildings, and additions in northern Wyoming and southern Montana. We used many of the same ideas mentioned in your article. We didn’t have the advantage of some of the recent technology available today; however, our buildings performed very well, and we never needed a backup heating system other than sometimes a wood stove.

I am glad to see someone is still utilizing what nature has given us. I agree 100 percent that proper siting and proper construction details are the key to success. We always oriented them by using the sun at noon and always stayed within the 15 degrees suggested by Professor [Jörg] Rügemer. A few homes we bent in the middle 15 degrees to form a “V” shape. Depending upon which way we bent the building, we obtained the maximum advantage in either the west or east wing in the morning and the opposite wing in the afternoon. Several of our homes were “earth bermed” for further shelter from the cold.

Passive solar has a difficult time competing because there is nothing to sell other than your knowledge and building skills. The sun’s energy is free. All you have to do is capture and contain it as long as possible. I hope Prof. Rügemer can influence the building trades, and the general public, to use more of the simple and inexpensive technology available.

Leroy Kingery MS’63
Douglas, Wyo.

Efficiency is Key

I totally agree with Professor [Jörg ] Rügemer’s comment on focusing on the efficiency of the shelter versus thermal or solar energy [“A House for the Future,” Winter 2011-12]. Having recently installed a solar array on my RV camper (totally thermally inefficient), I can attest to the fact that solar arrays are costly, inefficient, and still require standard utility backup for the systems they power. Associated solar arrays, batteries, and inverters are very inefficient and costly compared to raw utility power. Prof. Rügemer noted the use of gas (natural or propane), which in today’s [market] is extremely expensive. All information I learned from my RV experience tells me to focus on conserving heat and minimizing the need for cooling, [and to] use appliances that work using the most efficient, least costly fuels. Highly efficient homes would be a giant step forward in reducing the amount of electricity and fuel required to run the various systems and appliances found in today’s homes.

Edward Meisenbach BS’71
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Kudos for Continuum’s New Web site

What a great way to provide info regarding the U, especially for those of us who no longer reside in the shadow of the U. More great articles are presented, along with video and links. This was a pleasant surprise.

Steven M. Hansen BS’66
Richmond, Texas

A Tip of the Hat to Sorenson

What a beautiful story [“A Quiet Force,” Winter 2011-12]. Thank you, Beverley [Taylor Sorenson], for sharing your love of children and passion for the arts; you’re an inspiration.

Rick Cordova
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Marvelous Museum

The new Natural History Museum of Utah is an absolute gem [“Reflecting the Land,” Winter 2011-12]—everyone associated with the University should visit and show it off to guests. The setting, the building, the angles, the displays, are all outstanding. Kudos to Sarah George and the staff and donors.

Kristin Madden BA’71 MBA’83
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