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Building below ground?

I came across these links the other day, and it struck me that shifting a proportion of residents and even some commercial activity underground might well be defencible on a number of grounds (no pun intended).
http://www.undergroundhousing.com/
http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/keepcool.htm

From a residential point of view, you're certainly going to pay more in form work and excavation.


On the other hand, you can choose structural materials according to their strength, impermeability to water, and low cost rather than their external appearance. You could, in theory, have a house, the outer walls of which were made of Besser block, broken brick and form work from building sites and PVC. You'd never need to paint, or fix a roof or gutter, and the house would be secure from fire, storms, and perhaps even more secure from burglary. You might never have to pay to heat or cool the place, and pay a lot less for hot water. You could have heat pumps supply you with hot water or cooling as needed.
I see light and air being brought in through large mushroom-shaped skylights made of perspex above each room, with the domes being six feet (1.8m across) with reflective sides and flywire on the under sides to permit airflow.
You could even grow stuff on parts of your roof. Grow some pleasant smelling plants near the domes, and the house is scented.
On a larger scale, you could build eco-housing states and even shopping complexes the same way.
Fran

Building below ground?

"Fran" wrote in message


I came across these links the other day, and it struck me that shifting a proportion of residents and even some commercial activity underground might well be defencible on a number of grounds (no pun intended).
http://www.undergroundhousing.com/
http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/keepcool.htm
From a residential point of view, you're certainly going to pay more in form work and excavation.
On the other hand, you can choose structural materials according to their strength, impermeability to water, and low cost rather than their external appearance. You could, in theory, have a house, the outer walls of which were made of Besser block, broken brick and form work from building sites and PVC. You'd never need to paint, or fix a roof or gutter, and the house would be secure from fire, storms, and perhaps even more secure from burglary. You might never have to pay to heat or cool the place, and pay a lot less for hot water. You could have heat pumps supply you with hot water or cooling as needed.
I see light and air being brought in through large mushroom-shaped skylights made of perspex above each room, with the domes being six feet (1.8m across) with reflective sides and flywire on the under sides to permit airflow.
You could even grow stuff on parts of your roof. Grow some pleasant smelling plants near the domes, and the house is scented.
On a larger scale, you could build eco-housing states and even shopping complexes the same way.
Fran

More links to check out:
http://www.terra-dome.com/ http://www.earthshelteredtech.com/ http://www.gradyallengooch.com/ http://www.besa-uk.org/ http://www.axwoodfarm.com/PAHS/UmbrellaHouse.html http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/phil_reddy/ http://www.dennisweaver.com/earthshipforsale.htm http://www.earthhomes.co.uk/ http://www.malcolmwells.com/resources.html http://www.sprayonplastics.com/dome.htm http://www.earthshelters.com/ http://www.daviscaves.com/index.shtml http://www.piedmontcommunities.us/servlet/go_ProcServ/dbpage=page&gid=00175000000982954435768926 http://www.earthshipbiotecture.com/ http://www.genrefluent.com/earthshi.htm http://www.earthships.com/ http://www.undergroundhomes.com/home.html http://www.seccull.co.uk/ http://www.earthpower1.com/ http://earthshelter.com/ http://www.ourcoolhouse.com/ http://www.lcs.net/users/pinecrest/text/design.htm http://www.countryplans.com/underground.html http://www.disastershelters.net/index.php http://www.seccull.co.uk/ http://www.williamlishman.com/underground.htm
--
SeeYaa:) Harbin Osteen KG6URO
When American Citizens with dual citizenship pledges allegiance to the flag, to which flag do they pledge allegiance too?
-

Building below ground?

Harbin Osteen wrote:

"Fran" wrote in message
I came across these links the other day, and it struck me that shifting a proportion of residents and even some commercial activity underground might well be defencible on a number of grounds (no pun intended).
http://www.undergroundhousing.com/
http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/keepcool.htm
From a residential point of view, you're certainly going to pay more in form work and excavation.
On the other hand, you can choose structural materials according to their strength, impermeability to water, and low cost rather than their external appearance. You could, in theory, have a house, the outer walls of which were made of Besser block, broken brick and form work from building sites and PVC. You'd never need to paint, or fix a roof or gutter, and the house would be secure from fire, storms, and perhaps even more secure from burglary. You might never have to pay to heat or cool the place, and pay a lot less for hot water. You could have heat pumps supply you with hot water or cooling as needed.
I see light and air being brought in through large mushroom-shaped skylights made of perspex above each room, with the domes being six feet (1.8m across) with reflective sides and flywire on the under sides to permit airflow.
You could even grow stuff on parts of your roof. Grow some pleasant smelling plants near the domes, and the house is scented.
On a larger scale, you could build eco-housing states and even shopping complexes the same way.
Fran
More links to check out:
http://www.terra-dome.com/ http://www.earthshelteredtech.com/ http://www.gradyallengooch.com/ http://www.besa-uk.org/ http://www.axwoodfarm.com/PAHS/UmbrellaHouse.html http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/phil_reddy/ http://www.dennisweaver.com/earthshipforsale.htm http://www.earthhomes.co.uk/ http://www.malcolmwells.com/resources.html http://www.sprayonplastics.com/dome.htm http://www.earthshelters.com/ http://www.daviscaves.com/index.shtml http://www.piedmontcommunities.us/servlet/go_ProcServ/dbpage=page&gid=00175000000982954435768926 http://www.earthshipbiotecture.com/ http://www.genrefluent.com/earthshi.htm http://www.earthships.com/ http://www.undergroundhomes.com/home.html http://www.seccull.co.uk/ http://www.earthpower1.com/ http://earthshelter.com/ http://www.ourcoolhouse.com/ http://www.lcs.net/users/pinecrest/text/design.htm http://www.countryplans.com/underground.html http://www.disastershelters.net/index.php http://www.seccull.co.uk/ http://www.williamlishman.com/underground.htm
--
SeeYaa:) Harbin Osteen KG6URO
When American Citizens with dual citizenship pledges allegiance to the flag, to which flag do they pledge allegiance too?
-


Thanks
Fran

Building below ground?

Over the decades. I've had an on-again, off-again admiration for underground buildings. The thermal advantages are huge, of course, which lead to enormous energy savings.
However, I've read reports from underground homes which describe serious problems with leaks and humidity control. Once damaged, repairing an underground house is bound to be expensive.
Furthermore, since I went solar, I've realized that there would be no suitable place for my photovoltaic array, if I had an underground house on my lot. Siting my solar panels in a sunny location, without cutting my trees (not very numerous) or my neighbors' trees (somewhat more numerous), would be impossible if I didn't have a roof, two stories above the ground.
Meanwhile, although nothing beats digging in for thermal mass, there are some impressive new approaches. Super-insulation, structural insulated panels (SIP), straw-bale walls, and geoexchange temperature control are all helpful alternatives to full-blown subterranean construction.
+-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-+ | Ladasky Home Solar, Inc.: blowing sunshine up your | | power grid since March 24, 2005. Fiat lux! | +-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-+ | Uptime Downtime kWh generated kWh consumed | | 661 days 6.5 hours 11686 12651 | +-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-+

Building below ground?

John Ladasky wrote:

Over the decades. I've had an on-again, off-again admiration for underground buildings. The thermal advantages are huge, of course, which lead to enormous energy savings.
However, I've read reports from underground homes which describe serious problems with leaks and humidity control. Once damaged, repairing an underground house is bound to be expensive.

Fairly obviously, getting the site, the excavation and form work right first up is important.

Furthermore, since I went solar, I've realized that there would be no suitable place for my photovoltaic array, if I had an underground house on my lot. Siting my solar panels in a sunny location, without cutting my trees (not very numerous) or my neighbors' trees (somewhat more numerous), would be impossible if I didn't have a roof, two stories above the ground.

But since the return per kwh on PV is modest, and most of your energy is going to be consumed maintaining temperature, and applying heat to do the work of heating is better than applying it to produce electricity to produce heat ...

Meanwhile, although nothing beats digging in for thermal mass, there are some impressive new approaches. Super-insulation, structural insulated panels (SIP), straw-bale walls, and geoexchange temperature control are all helpful alternatives to full-blown subterranean construction.

True, but full subterranean has some other benefits as well as being energy efficient, bushfire and storm resistant. My husband gets allergies during the pollen season in September and it would be possible to filter all incoming air. You can't really do that effectively with a partly above ground house unless you remove all the windows or have them fully sealed.
Fran

Building below ground?

Fran wrote: ....

True, but full subterranean has some other benefits as well as being energy efficient, bushfire and storm resistant. My husband gets allergies during the pollen season in September and it would be possible to filter all incoming air. You can't really do that effectively with a partly above ground house unless you remove all the windows or have them fully sealed.

I don't think that subterranean has as many benefits as you think. A well built home can be energy efficient, fire and storm resistant and well sealed regardless of it's altitude. I think you can make a house well sealed with proper windows and filtered air just as easily above as well as below ground.
Anthony

Building below ground?

Anthony Matonak wrote:

Fran wrote: ... True, but full subterranean has some other benefits as well as being energy efficient, bushfire and storm resistant. My husband gets allergies during the pollen season in September and it would be possible to filter all incoming air. You can't really do that effectively with a partly above ground house unless you remove all the windows or have them fully sealed.
I don't think that subterranean has as many benefits as you think. A well built home can be energy efficient, fire and storm resistant and well sealed regardless of it's altitude. I think you can make a house well sealed with proper windows and filtered air just as easily above as well as below ground.
Anthony

Possibly, but given equal levels of service, surely it would necessarily be a more expensive engineering task, and less economical to maintain?
Fran

Building below ground?

Fran wrote:

Anthony Matonak wrote: Fran wrote: ... True, but full subterranean has some other benefits as well as being energy efficient, bushfire and storm resistant. My husband gets allergies during the pollen season in September and it would be possible to filter all incoming air. You can't really do that effectively with a partly above ground house unless you remove all the windows or have them fully sealed.
I don't think that subterranean has as many benefits as you think. A well built home can be energy efficient, fire and storm resistant and well sealed regardless of it's altitude. I think you can make a house well sealed with proper windows and filtered air just as easily above as well as below ground.
Anthony
Possibly, but given equal levels of service, surely it would necessarily be a more expensive engineering task, and less economical to maintain?

To meet all those goals, perhaps. Underground of course add costs of its own - you can't service the structure once it's in.
Energy efficient is largely irrelevant - 20cm of fiberglass/rockwool in the walls, and the same windows you'd need for the underground structure will get you exactly the same performance. Fiberglass/rockwool is not expensive.
Subterranean structures have large advantages over uninsulated over-ground structures, or if you need fire protection.
And of course you usually have to seal the subterranean structure well, otherwise you can get stuff getting in.

Building below ground?

Ian Stirling wrote:

Energy efficient is largely irrelevant - 20cm of fiberglass/rockwool in the walls, and the same windows you'd need for the underground structure will get you exactly the same performance.

No. Many underground houses (eg John Hait's) store summer heat for winter in the thermal mass of the soil.
Nick

Building below ground?

nicksanspam@ece.villanova.edu wrote:

Ian Stirling wrote:
Energy efficient is largely irrelevant - 20cm of fiberglass/rockwool in the walls, and the same windows you'd need for the underground structure will get you exactly the same performance.
No. Many underground houses (eg John Hait's) store summer heat for winter in the thermal mass of the soil.

Well, yes. But if the house is insulated well enough, you can heat it on passive and solar, even in winter.

Building below ground?

On 23 Jan Ian Stirling wrote:

Well, yes. But if the house is insulated well enough, you can heat it on passive and solar, even in winter.

It depends on where it is, and weather trends.
But regardless of where it is, new construction should use the foam sandwich walls with a thickness appropriate for the local weather, and insulate as well as possible, the cost will pay for itself many times, and it is a lot cheaper in the long run, and much more effective than most retrofits.
But any house should have some backup heating system for emergencies.
Joe Fischer

Building below ground?

Ian Stirling wrote:

... if the house is insulated well enough, you can heat it on passive and solar, even in winter.

Not easily. More insulation means less thermal mass. How much insulation would a 48x48x8' tall house with no mass nor windows and 900 kWh/mo of internal electrical use need to stay 70 F on a 10 F day?
Nick

Building below ground?

nicksanspam@ece.villanova.edu wrote:

Ian Stirling wrote:
... if the house is insulated well enough, you can heat it on passive and solar, even in winter.
Not easily. More insulation means less thermal mass. How much insulation would a 48x48x8' tall house with no mass nor windows and 900 kWh/mo of internal electrical use need to stay 70 F on a 10 F day?


That's what, 25C/-10C?, or 35C.
250m^2 roof, 150m^2 walls, 250m^2 floor. Call it 750m^2. 900kWh/mo of electric = 30Kwh/day = 1.2Kw.
So, you need a thermal resistance of 29W/K, or a U value of .038 - 120cm of rockwool, and 50cm of foam under the slab. (I suspect in this case it'd be cheaper to make the slab structural, put it on pillars, and use rockwool underneath too.
You put the slab on the insulated side, you pretty much have to, so the above is very pessimistic.
15cm slab over the 30cm foam gives you 40 cubic meters of concrete, or around 160 tons.
This has a thermal capacity heating/cooling by only 5C of around 2000J/Kg/Kg, so a total of 10JK/Kg, or 10MJ/ton, or 1.6GJ. This'd supply 1.2Kw of heat for a fortnight or so, so solar is a big bigh factor.
Only a couple of big triple glazed windows with nighttime shutters slashes the required insulation.

Building below ground?

Ian Stirling wrote:

... if the house is insulated well enough, you can heat it on passive and solar, even in winter.
Not easily. More insulation means less thermal mass. How much insulation would a 48x48x8' tall house with no mass nor windows and 900 kWh/mo of internal electrical use need to stay 70 F on a 10 F day?
That's what, 25C/-10C?, or 35C.

.... 70-10 = 60 F.

250m^2 roof, 150m^2 walls, 250m^2 floor. Call it 750m^2.

.... 3840 ft^2, without the floor.

900kWh/mo of electric = 30Kwh/day = 1.2Kw.

.... 4265 Btu/h.

So, you need a thermal resistance of 29W/K...

G = 4265/60 = 71 Btu/h-F = 3840/Rv makes the US Rvalue = 54, eg 13.5" inches of white open cell beadboard polystyrene coffeecup material, or more, if we count the floor.

15cm slab over the 30cm foam gives you 40 cubic meters of concrete, or around 160 tons.

A 5.9"/12x2304ft^2x25 = 28346 Btu/F slab with RC = 28346/71 = 400 hours.

This has a thermal capacity heating/cooling by only 5C of around 2000J/Kg/Kg, so a total of 10JK/Kg, or 10MJ/ton, or 1.6GJ. This'd supply 1.2Kw of heat for a fortnight or so, so solar is a big bigh factor.

If it were 70 F at the start of the fortnight (how would we arrange that?), it would cool to 10+(70-10)e^-(14x24/400) = 35.9 F by the end.

Only a couple of big triple glazed windows with nighttime shutters slashes the required insulation.

La di dah.
Nick

Building below ground?

On Jan 24, 6:57 am, Ian Stirling wrote:

nicksans...@ece.villanova.edu wrote: Ian Stirling wrote:
... if the house is insulated well enough, you can heat it on passive and solar, even in winter.
Not easily. More insulation means less thermal mass. How much insulation would a 48x48x8' tall house with no mass nor windows and 900 kWh/mo of internal electrical use need to stay 70 F on a 10 F day?That's what, 25C/-10C?, or 35C.
250m^2 roof, 150m^2 walls, 250m^2 floor. Call it 750m^2. 900kWh/mo of electric = 30Kwh/day = 1.2Kw.
So, you need a thermal resistance of 29W/K, or a U value of .038 - 120cm of rockwool, and 50cm of foam under the slab. (I suspect in this case it'd be cheaper to make the slab structural, put it on pillars, and use rockwool underneath too.
You put the slab on the insulated side, you pretty much have to, so the above is very pessimistic.
15cm slab over the 30cm foam gives you 40 cubic meters of concrete, or around 160 tons.
This has a thermal capacity heating/cooling by only 5C of around 2000J/Kg/Kg, so a total of 10JK/Kg, or 10MJ/ton, or 1.6GJ. This'd supply 1.2Kw of heat for a fortnight or so, so solar is a big bigh factor.
Only a couple of big triple glazed windows with nighttime shutters slashes the required insulation.


Thank you for the detailed discussion, but it does tend to convince me that in lifecycle terms, subterranean construction is likely to have a rather lower environmental footprint when delivering the quanta and variety of service most residential building users will see as important.
Achieving thermal stability at an acceptable level of comfort within the space and access to warmed water without substantial resort to exogenous energy demand or the construction and transport of energy-intensive materials is a major longterm advantage. Improved security of the dwelling against severe weather events and bushfire represent real advantages. Lower maintenance is also exccellent in footprint terms. And indeed, the ability to use the surface land freed up for some other useful purpose is an added bonus. Conceivably one could achieve rather greater housing densities in cities in this way without substantially diminishing the private space allocated to each person.
Fran


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