Buildings in warmer climate zones, such as in Washington, D.C., are rarely built with the summer sun in mind, according to Roger K. Lewis, an architect writing for the Washington Post. Modern heating and cooling technology allows for building designs that disregard the sun’s influence. This leads to the creation of “heat island” cities, which see temperatures much higher than their surrounding suburbs because of solar radiation from concrete, metal, and masonry, as well as excess heat from air conditioning systems.
In order to create buildings which naturally keep cool and reflect the summer sun, Lewis recommends adding roof overhangs that shade exterior walls, fully operable windows and wall panels for natural ventilation, and planting deciduous shade trees on the southern end of a house or low-rise. Overall, he points out that architecture should capture desirable sunlight, but also block its adverse effects.