I found this European, scholarly, technical paper on Green Building.
Here's my favorite passage:
3.1.1 Passive systems
General considerations The best way to reduce energy consumption is to take advantage of all available natural energy. This is the purpose of bioclimatic design, which is one path to a low energy house. The bioclimatic approach operates at two levels:
1. let the energy of the sun come in
2. do not let it out again"
It really doesn't get much more complicated than that. We've been in our near-zero energy home for 2.5 years now, and have discovered that not only are we saving energy and money, the comfort is amazing.
A relatively overlooked aspect of passive solar is that you want windows with high SHGC (solar heat gain coefficient) on the south side, preferably with overhangs. In the actual marketplace, I have as yet only found only one supplier of these windows, Hurd. Be sure to specify "hard coat" Lo E. In addition, don't "overglaze" the south side, you might get October overheating or need to wear sunglasses indoors.
Now, armed with that advice, find a building site where your neighbor can't block your sun.