Building Blog Additional Posts
Earth Sheltered Homes
"Another type of building is emerging: one that actually heals the scars of its own construction. It conserves rainwater and fuel and it provides a habitat for creatures other than the human one. Maybe it will catch on, maybe it won't. We'll see." - Malcolm Wells, 2002.
The earth sheltered house uses the ground as insulating blanket which effectively protects it from temperature extremes, wind, rain and extreme weather events. An earth sheltered home is energy-efficient, quiet, freeze-proof and low maintenance. Aesthetically an earth sheltered home blends in with the natural environment, leaving more yard space and more space for wildlife.
Fifteen feet below ground the soil maintains a fairly constant temperature equal to the annual average temperature of the area's surface air. If the average temperature in your area is 55, that means the soil temperature at 15 feet is 55 degrees and in the winter you will only have to bring the temperature inside your earth sheltered home up thirteen degrees, to bring it up to a comfortable 68 degrees. Versus bringing up the inside temperature 68 degrees, if your home is above ground and the outside windchill is 0. In the summer, that 55 degree soil will also keep your home much cooler than an above ground home. Many earth homes incorporate passive solar designs lessening even further the need for fuel for heating or cooling.
There are two types of earth sheltered building. Earth Sheltered - where dirt covers three exterior sides and the roof (the walls are most often concrete). And Earth Bermed - where dirt is pushed up against the exterior walls only, and not onto the roof, yet the roof is usually super insulated.
Honingham Earth Sheltered Social Housing. The Uk’s first earth-sheltered social housing scheme. Each two bedroom home has a high thermal mass superstructure, is super-insulated and orientated south. These characteristics have enabled some of the households to reduce their total annual energy consumption by two thirds of what a convential home would use. www.publicarchitecture.co.uk
Looks like vertical placed logs are helping to support the berm on the right. "We do not have any heating on at all in the winter and the building still stays at 72 degrees. The light comes in through the full-length windows in winter but in the summer the sun’s heat does not penetrate so you stay cool" say the owners. www.publicarchitecture.co.uk
Earth sheltered home with conventional facade. Dig out a pond (raise fish or create a natural swim pond) and place the soil on the house. By Formworks. formworksbuilding.com
Earth sheltered home, as above. See the kit and plans at: earthshelter.com
The facade may accommodate any architectural styling of the home owners choosing. Here the structure is a bolted together skeletal steel system which is then sprayed with pressurized concrete, same process as a gunite swimming pool. formworksbuilding.com
This earth sheltered house, in the wilds of the Outer Hebrides, provides a perfect living environment for harsh weather. This home's support walls are constructed of PolarWall (polystyrene). polarwall.co.uk
An award winning earth shelter dwelling by Cam Architects. The Sedum House incorporates green technology in the form of ground source heat pumps, photovoltaic panels and a whole house ventilation system. The use of highly insulating ICF in the walls makes for a very low energy use dwelling. Gimingham, North Norfolk, UK. Note the sunken room on right. More photos: camarchitects.co.uk
Side wall of above Sedum House: camarchitects.co.uk
Earth sheltered Pinnacle House is an award-winning, sustainably-designed home in Lyme, New Hampshire. The home was designed and built by architect Don Metz in 1971, a pioneer in green home design and construction. The north-side of the house is built into the hillside, creating a green roof through the use of earth-sheltered building techniques. The house faces due south, offering passive solar gain and spectacular views from every room. thepinnaclehouse.com
Inside of above. thepinnaclehouse.com
"Underhill", near Holmfirth, Yorkshire, UK.
'The first “modern” earth-sheltered house in Britain and the home of its architect Arthur Quarmby, a pioneer of earth-sheltered buildings. The house features earth embankments, turf roof, lots of insulation and a visual impact that not even the pickiest of neighbors could fault.' martinbondphotos.co.uk
Earth Sheltered Rainbow Valley Farm.
This bermed house in California is also passive solar. Image courtesy of NREL.
Earth bermed home. Back and one side covered with soil.
Plan for above home. In a rainy climate, with this design, it would be necessary to create a waterproof channel along the north wall of the home to direct water away from the home, or possibly into a tank that could also store heat. minimalisthomedezine.blogspot.com
Malcolm Wells Cherry Hill Office.
A quiet, light filled office beneath a meadow that physically impacts its immediate environment as little as possible, yet is adjacent to a six lane highway. malcolmwells.com
Earth Sheltered Homes, Parame, St-Malo, France.
Photo by: John Leather, flickr.com
Robot Ranch, seven interconnected earth sheltered domes. This home built into the side of a hill has 4,144 square feet of living area, yet it disappears into the landscape. monolithic.com
Earth sheltered homes in the eco-village at Dyssekilde, Denmark. dyssekilde.dk/uk
An earth sheltered home in Oregon being readied for its earth covering. A whole blog devoted to the construction of this home here: dragonflyhill.org
Allan Shope designed an ecologically focused house for himself and his family in Amenia, New York. The triangular house is built into the earth, and covered with native flora transplanted from other parts of the property. shopearchitect.com
Interior of earth sheltered home, above. Interior wood was milled from trees on the property. Image copyright Architectural Digest: architecturaldigest.com
Earth sheltered dome home in Vermont. earthshelteredtech.com
The Walled Garden, Barnsdale with greenhouse by Search Architects. The home is single room deep, facing the sun, super-insulated, cut in to the landscape contours, covered in earth and overlooking the open countryside. searcharchitects.co.uk
Dani Ridge House in California by Carver + Schicketanz is tucked into a hillside. Gorgeous house, see more pics: carverschicketanz.com
An earth-sheltered dwelling (Jag Hol) on the outskirts of the Norfolk village of East Tuddenham. A self-built insitu concrete, single story dwelling with exceptional insulation levels which costs less than £10 a week to run. searcharchitects.co.uk
Underground home by local architect John Bodger. This two-story house is burrowed backwards into rock at the site of on an old quarry. In Cumbria, UK. Plans and lots more about the project: www.ingenia.org.uk.pdf
Underground home by John Bodger. As above.
Dutch Mountain House, Huizen, Netherlands by denieuwegeneratie. archdaily.com
Earth sheltered home, Saint Jeannet, France, photo by
Jean-Pierre Cavelan. picasaweb.google.com
Earth House Estate Lättenstrasse, Dietikon, Switzerland.
These earth covered houses are centered around a small artificial lake with the entrances well hidden and integrated into the sides of the settlement. The residential settlement consists of nine houses, one a 7 bedroom home! The daytime areas are situated towards the south, the night time areas towards the north. In the middle, you find the bathrooms and the connecting stairs to the basement. All the bathrooms get natural light through rooftop windows. www.erdhaus.ch
Hobbiton, as used in The Hobbit film. Near Matamata in New Zealand. Photo: Rob Chandler.
Underground home, Hobbiton, New Zealand.
Casa Organica. This underground house was built in 1985 by organic architect Javier Senosiain. Naucalpan, Mexico. mustique.com.ar
Use an umbrella to insulate the surrounding soil and increase inner temperatures even more. An umbrella house or PAHS (Passive Annual Heat Storage) home works on the principle that Earth is an ideal thermal mass for storing heat over long time periods. Summer’s heat is absorbed out of the home into the surrounding dry earth, keeping it cool and comfortable. This heat reserve is then conducted back up into the home when winter temperatures prevail, heat is available even through an entire winter. To contain the heat, the heat should flow between the earth and the home, rather than the earth and the out-of-doors. Keeping the earth dry around the periphery of the home is necessary. The umbrella's sandwich of polystyrene insulation and polyethylene sheeting (about R-20) insulates a huge mass of surrounding dirt instead of just the house. The lower, inside portion of the home needs but minimal insulation. See John Hait’s book: Passive Annual Heat Storage, Improving the Design of Earth Shelters. earthshelters.com, norishouse.com
Earth Sheltered Dome Houses:
1) The Terra-Dome building system is a forming system that helps create a concrete steel reinforced structure in modular form of 24' x 24' or 28' x 28' (inside measurement). These modules are poured on location and can be arranged in a multitude of configurations. The Terra-Dome module is used for earth-sheltered structures in most cases. www.terra-dome.com
2) Concrete Earth Sheltered Homes: earthshelteredhome.com
3) Polarwall, UK: .polarwall.co.uk
4) Monolithic Dome Homes: monolithic.com
5) Bill Lishman's unique underground house was the culmination of years of research and countless hours of design. www.williamlishman.com
6) Earth-Sheltered Home Kits for Owner-Builders: motherearthnews.com/green-homes
7) PBS: earthshelter.com
1) Malcolm Wells Designs: malcolmwells.com/designs
2) Plans for an Earthbag-Earth Shelter: earthbagbuilding.com
3) Earth Sheltered Tech, Lots!: www.earthshelteredtech.com
4) Plans for a rammed tire home: groundhouse.co
5) Earth Style Home Plans: www.coolhouseplans.com
6) Atrium style: dreamgreenhomes.com
7) SolArc earth sheltered: archy-nova.de
8) Earth Berm: solaripedia.com
1) The Fifty Dollar and Up Underground House Book by Mike Oehler.
2) The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book by Mike Oehler.
3) Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable... By Rob Roy: amazon.com
4) Building Underground: The Design and Construction Handbook for Earth-Sheltered Houses by Herbert Wade, 1983. goodreads.com
4) The Earth-Sheltered House: An Architect's Sketchbook: malcolmwells.com
5) How to Build an Underground House: malcolmwells.com
6) Underground Plans Book: malcolmwells.com
7) Book Download by Jeremy Harrall - Search Architects: ukearthshelteredbuildingphd.co.uk
8) Solar-Heating a Subterranean House: www.motherearthnews.com
9) Earth Sheltered Housing Design: Guidelines, Examples, and References,
10) Minnesota Underground Space Center, 1979. amazon.com
11) Breathing Walls A Biological Approach to
12) Healthy Building Envelope Design and Construction, 2008: breathingwalls.com
1) "Efficient Earth shelter homes." U.S. Department of Energy. 2012. eere.energy.gov
2) "Digging for the green: Underground architecture and sustainable design." Hall, Loretta. subsurfacebuildings.com
3) ACU professor Ronnie McQueen teaches benefits of earth house: texnews.com
4) "Underground urban farm." Trends in Japan. March 17, 2005. web-japan.org
5) Cooled soil as a cooling source for buildings: www.sciencedirect.com
In Coober Pedy, Australia daytime highs often climb into the 100s and many have taken up residence in abandoned opal mines to beat the heat. australia.com