Page 2 of 6
It is my belief that these lightweight building methods will bring about increased energy use and greenhouse gas emissions simply because they don't possess the qualities required for living comfortably within a climate that is generally showing a trend towards a hotter, wetter environment than we have today. You're probably wondering why I have come to this conclusion, given that the majority of new build homes and offices are assembled using this fast track construction method. My answer is simple: they don't contain enough mass to slow the ingress and egress of radiant heat from the environment, and to make matters worse, we are increasingly tempted to seal ourselves inside our homes and offices shutting out vital fresh air and shutting in warm, stale air along with all kinds of off-gassing that can originate from the most unexpected of sources. This in turn leads to an increased demand for artificial heating and cooling systems that we think we need in order to maintain a comfortable living and working environment. Actually, lightweight structures do need systems such as these because the buildings themselves cannot provide such a comfortable environment without artificial assistance. And for every second that a heater or air conditioning unit is working, fuel is being consumed, burned and emissions are finding their way into our one and only atmosphere.
The Earthdome is my attempt to demonstrate that a shift towards an environmentally sensitive way of building can be both practical and economical, and that it is possible to create a comfortable living or working environment without the need for continuous energy consumption, simply because the building itself acts as a thermal barrier between us and the environment outside. The key to creating such a building is thermal mass. This is a construction technique that uses heavyweight materials that are very good at storing radiant heat during the day while it is warm and then releasing that stored heat into the interior of the building as night approaches and the air cools down. This delay results in the interior remaining cool during a hot sunny day, and warming up when it gets colder outside.
The concept that is important here is radiant heat. This term relates to a process where a body is warmed directly by the heat source and not by exposure to air that is warmed up and circulated. A natural fire generates radiant heat, as does the sun, but a radiator most definitely does not. Radiators simply warm the air that is trapped with them within a sealed environment, and warm stale air leads to a feeling of lethargy. Radiant heat has the opposite effect, it makes us feel revitalised. And, as a bonus, we are able to allow fresh air to pass through our radiant-heated enviroment because we don't need to worry about letting all the warm air out.
I am going to describe the build process to you in detail, from the ground up, across the following pages, and I hope I'll be able to give you a good idea of what was involved in building this award-winning development.
Page 2 of 6