Sun path diagrams can tell you a lot about how the sun will impact your site and building throughout the year. Stereographic sun path diagrams can be used to read the solar azimuth and altitude for a given location.
Massing and orientation are important design factors to consider for passive heating. Consider these factors early in the design so that the surface areas exposed to sun at different times of day, building dimensions, and building orientation can all be optimized for passive comfort.
Shades can keep the heat and glare of direct sun from coming through windows. They can also keep direct sunlight off of walls or roofs, to reduce cooling loads.
Windows and other apertures bring in heat from sunshine, but can also lose heat by radiant cooling and by conducting heat better than most wall or roof constructions. Apertures and shading must be intelligently placed to take advantage of the sun's heat in cold locations and seasons, while not overheating in hot seasons.
Solar radiation analysis is useful for passive heating, daylighting, and PV energy generation. It’s important to know what these radiation values represent before you can effectively use them.