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 shelter." [Wikipedia]
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.
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 Building System 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!