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Biography STEVE KAWELL DURANGO, COLORADO

Following you’ll find my biography as it relates to the evolution of my understanding of passive solar and green building design strategies

I was born North of the great Midwest City of Chicago. Growing up in a home designed and built by my engineer father and tradesman grandfather, I was able to observe the construction of many projects. Our family home was flooded with winter sunlight. The south orientation was, as my father said, just dumb luck.

It was my first experience with a passive solar home and what a great environment to grow up in. Solar Home Plans

I took college preparatory architecture classes thinking that architecture could be an intriguing profession. I quickly found that I did not have the artistic talent that was necessary for an architecture student of that time. My undergraduate studies at Southern Illinois University were focused on Environmental science and business. After moving to Colorado in the late 70’s, I again pursued studies in architecture and the construction sciences. A night program through Colorado Mountain College fit well with my daytime construction employment.

The late 70’s and early 80’s were a vibrant time for solar designs and energy efficient building strategies, as the gas crisis hit America and our president made a commitment for energy independence. Over the next few years I attended every regional conference and workshop I could find that dealt with cutting edge passive solar design. It was the start of integrating passive solar concepts into my work. Of course the urgency of creating an America that was energy independent was short lived but a small group of designers and builders, of which I am one, has kept up the cause over these many years.

The first passive solar home I built was in 1981 with many more to follow. The early designs had large areas of roof glazing with a tendency to overheat in the summer, lose heat during long winter nights, and incur greater maintenance costs. The evolution to using a direct gain design utilizing only vertical south glazing with proper roof over-hangs created a passive solar structure that is more self regulating. With the dramatic day/night temperature fluctuations of the early designs, the need for an adequate amount of thermal mass became apparent.

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