Cool without AC: Dewees Island house featured in 'Mother Earth News'

A sustainable beach house on Dewees Island, SC, designed by Whitney Powers, AIA, of Studio A, Inc., in Charleston, is one of three houses selected by Robyn Griggs Lawrence whose blog “Natural Home & Garden” is carried in Mother Earth News to demonstrate successful “passive cooling” without air conditioning. 

“Over the years, I’ve been in enough naturally cooled homes—in brutally hot and humid climates—to know that passive cooling works,” Griggs Lawrence writes. She visited the house Powers designed for Rives and Walter Yost to experience the effect herself.

Powers’ two-level, 2700-square-foot Yost house features eight screened porches, an abundance of French doors and sash windows, high ceilings, and ceiling fans to facilitate natural ventilation.

“We didn’t come all the way from Pittsburgh to close the windows and doors,” Mrs. Yost told Griggs Lawrence.

The ventilation system Powers designed pulls air in through the windows on the lower floors and up through the house to windows located beneath the gables. Reflective window coatings deflect the sun and reduce solar heat gain. Screened-in sleeping porches also provide naturally cool places to rest.

“The Yost house is designed for indoor/outdoor living, with porches on the front, back, and corners of the house that provide outdoor living space and permit windows and doors to be left open for constant access to island breezes and the sound of birds, rustling trees, and crashing waves,” the article states.

The article also spotlights a small co-housing unit in Carrboro, NC, by architect Giles Blunden, and an oceanfront home in Florida’s Upper Matecumbe Key by Jersey Devil Design/Build for their passive cooling systems.

Griggs Lawrence calls passive cooling “a fast-growing trend that’s not likely to go away soon.” To read the entire article, click here.

For more information on Whitney Powers, AIA, and to see more of her sustainable residential designs, visit

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