|5) The “Why” of Earth-sheltering:
But first, a tribute to an Earth-Sheltered building pioneer, Malcolm Wells:
We share the enthusiasm and anticipation that Mr. Wells had for Earth-sheltered housing; that it was
"only a matter of time before all new buildings would be built this way." Likewise, we are bracing
ourselves for the world's reaction to the Geodesic Earthworks Kit. But if the e-mail we've received thus
far is any indication, we'll be just fine! Here's just a few:
"I wish you and your company all the best and I see great things for you in the future. I have looked at
many geodesic domes online and found yours to be the best concept from start to finish."
“I am interested in constructing an underground winery here in Oregon. Has there been any work done
on such a project, and where? Cool designs! ---- Dave D. Oregon
“This housing concept is way overdue. Please keep me posted with additional information as your
venture progresses. Thanks!” --- Robert T. Alabama
“I see a good thing here that you guys came up with and I want you to succeed. Developing a new and
innovative way of construction must be a true adventure. Please stay in touch. We look forward to
being one of your first customers.” ----- Clyde R. Florida
“Hi James, Looks outstanding. Geodesic construction has never been properly simplified. Your
concept looks like it may be one of the advancements necessary for this technology to take off.” ---
"Earth sheltering is the architectural practice of using earth against building walls for external
thermal mass, to reduce heat loss, and to easily maintain a steady indoor air temperature. Earth
sheltering is popular in modern times among advocates of passive solar and sustainable
architecture, but has been around for nearly as long as humans have been constructing their own
In the 1950’s, some innovative, forward-thinking homebuilders, discovering we were ignoring the
asset of the Earth itself in the construction process, re-instituted the use of earth berming/
sheltering in home construction as a buffer against Nature’s temperature extremes; By 1979, the
U.S. Government regarded Earth Sheltered Homes as “conventional” although architects,
engineers, and the public alike will still likely label earth-sheltering as an unconventional method of
building. About 100,000 people now own Earth-Sheltered homes in the U.S.
Dr. John Williams writes: “Let’s assume you’re in the market for a new home. Let’s further assume
that, like other people, you’re concerned about the limited supplies of domestic oil and gas, the
unpredictable cost, and the environment price tag attached to the continued use of these fuels. Is
there a way to reconcile your concerns and still build your dream home? The solution may lie in
Earth-Sheltered Housing.” Let's introduce the scenario of not just energy increasing in price, but
its unavailability at any price! Possible? Yes. Likely? Your guess may be better than mine. The
following clip by Richard Heinberg, Author of 'Peak Everything' points us to a conclusion: the
"standard" American home needs to fundamentally change as to end its reliance on petroleum.
With something so basic as sheltering our families and ourselves, shouldn't our homes be of a
design that stands the best chance of successfully achieves that end?
Earth-sheltered homes allow for optimum energy savings: simply because the design does not
require the energy expenditure to begin with:
Because of the moderating effect of the earth upon the living space, earth-sheltered structures are
naturally cool during the summer months and naturally warm during the winter months.
Passive Annual Heat Storage:
The most innovative approaches to harnessing the sun’s free gift of BTU’s are the developing
technologies known as Passive Annual Heat Storage (PAHS). It’s been said of PAHS:
After almost 30 years there has been considerable progress in PAHS design principles and
implementation. "PAHS is today a proven fact." PAHS go far beyond the deficiencies of
conventional earth-shelter and passive-solar design by isolating a large thermal mass of dry earth
around the home with a large insulation watershed umbrella, so that the earth itself may be
warmed up to room temperature.
This ground-breaking (pun intended) principle is found in Dr. John Hait’s: “Passive Annual Heat
Storage: Improving the Design of Earth Structures” (and supporting works). This text explains
how Dr. John Hait undertook the study of thermodynamics and structural engineering to
determine that the most energy-efficient structure was an earth-sheltered Geodesic Dome.
The novel building technology of the Geodesic Earthworks Kit, will be coupled with the insights of
Passive Annual Heat Storage to accomplish the goal of NO mechanical heating/cooling devices (or
their attendant costs) to achieve comfortable living temperatures ALL year round. That statement
needs to be qualified, at least for the short term: for purposes of obtaining a mortgage, a bank will
likely insist on a conventional heating system. There may be no getting around that until such time
as the banking industry begins changes its philosophy and practices. Until then, our goal becomes
to never have the device in operation!
|“…fuel prices took an enormous jump over last year’s prices .
Natural gas up 23%, propane (LP) 67% and fuel oil 34%. With energy
costs going up at that rate, it will not be long until earth sheltered will
be the only type of home that people will build." (emphasis added).
[These 'stats' are only worsening now in 2012 and 2013]
|A house design that does not utilize the asset of the earth surrounding it is
akin to our standing outside on an unprecedentedly cold winter’s night
surrounded by blankets we opt not to wear.
|The sun is giving us more energy than we could ever need. I think it would be a major
mistake not taking that for heating our buildings and for cooling our buildings as well.
- --Werner Lang, of the University of Texas at Austin
|“If earth-sheltered houses are perfect for environmentally sensitive sites, they
are also remarkably efficient when it comes to energy use. Mole Manor was
monitored by scientists at Bath University, who concluded that the design
used only 25% of the energy that a standard house would use on the same site.”
|“For combined passive heating and cooling in seasonal regions,
it's hard to imagine a better design principle.”
|The sun’s clean, green, and virtually limitless power provides the best option for creating a
future free of our dependence on fossil fuels. Solar provides a real option for being
independent from unstable, anti-American oil producers – and provides a stable source of