I have added a courtyard to my high-mass solar-passive house to improve summer cooling and winter heating.
The courtyard extends 13 metres along the south wall of the house. It is completely enclosed by a wall of white-painted polystyrene sandwich panels 1.8 metres high, with two gates of the same material.
By September 2015 trenches had been dug for the courtyard foundation, and by December it was complete.
This house is in BCA Climate Zone 4: Hot dry summer, cool winter. For comfort, it must be made very much cooler in summer and very much warmer in winter. The courtyard was built to help to achieve both results without the use of heaters or coolers.
In summer, it should ensure a supply of very cool air at night. In this house, cool air is drawn in to replace warm air that flows out the clear-story windows by the stack effect, assisted by fans. By day, the courtyard walls also block some solar radiation.
In winter, the white courtyard wall reflects sunshine north towards the house, and re-radiates heat lost from the house wall back towards it.
To invite discussion of how courtyards can affect indoor and outdoor climate of houses, I opened a thread “Courtyards for Climate Control” on the forum of the Alternative Technology Association (ATA) based in Melbourne.