Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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the house that makes no demands on the environment
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(+5, -2)
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A double-layered glass pyramid, with living quarters built inside with mud bricks to act as a heat store, the lower outside but in-glass space has a pool, which narrows below a grille, into a long tank, which acts as a one-way heat valve, to the bottom of which water from radiators placed at the apex of the pyramid brings heat: from the top - hot - end of the pool/tank hot water is taken round the house for heating. The house is built on a South-facing slope in high, thick deciduous woodland, which shades it in hot weather but allows the sun to shine on it in cold weather. the sewage is taken by Archimedes' screw to a septic tank, the methane emerging from which is used either for a gas engine which generates heat and electricity, or a methane-powered fuel cell which does the same more efficiently. The North face of the house is partly underground and its upper parts are covered with turf. The basement, of course, is occupied with bicycles, wind-powered vehicles for land, air and water, and a t-v set for the kids which they can only watch by generating the electricity with a static-bicycle dynamo.
hedley, Jul 21 2000

Solstice http://solstice.crest.org/index.shtml
Information on renewable energy/green construction. [Scott_D, Jul 21 2000]

What is a Hexadome? http://web.archive....xadome/hexadome.htm
They sell Hexadome kits and plans, and used to sell books describing the theory for DIY's [Scott_D, Jul 21 2000]

The R. Buckminister Fuller FAQ. http://www.cjfearnl...uller-faq.html#toc1
Fairly comprehensive listing of Fuller's ideas: includes some dome math. [Scott_D, Jul 21 2000]

Tensegrity http://www.teleport...~pdx4d/snelson.html
You tell me. [Scott_D, Jul 21 2000]

Earthship Biotecture Solar Survival Affordable Housing http://www.earthship.org/
Click here to learn about Biodegradable Housing [LoriZ, Jul 21 2000]


centauri, Jul 21 2000

       You are to be commended for a great idea - anything lessens our environmental footprint is going to become increasingly important, those who disagree are only delaying the inevitable day when an altogether harsher dicipline may become necessary, as it becomes evident that nature finds us far less useful than we find her.   

       I missed this idea somehow, but I hope you keep thinking along these lines - something less other than a glass pyramid maybe, appealing, but difficult and expensive to build and maintain (I could no longer throw stones, eliminating a satisfying pastime). Try searching for Fullerene structures which are based on triangles, and a principle called tensegrity - requiring some mathmatical know-how, but extremely versitile, and structurally much sounder than boxes. Especially interesting is the Hexadome - definitely check this out.   

       Your ideas on turning the whole house int a giant heat exchanger are particularly interesting. I've been thinking along those lines for some time now - consider all the heat that an attic generates ( I recently saw something about a retrofit that recycles this heat) I recently worked on a house where the attic access was actually blowing like a blast furnace.   

       In the absence of earth shelter, try Evergreens and dense undergrowth to create a cooler microclimate that can be taken advantage of in the summer months (bathrooms and kitchens, typically the hottest room in the house are usually on the south side of the house).
Scott_D, Aug 16 2000

       Tensegrity structures and geodesic domes are cute and all, but I don't know why they're any more ecological than the conventional box, and I do know that they're way less convenient. (Ask anyone who's lived in one.)   

       Boxes have lots of great attributes: they can be stacked and tiled next to each other without wasting space; they create spaces where people can walk around without bonking their heads on the edges; they can be built from standard sheets and spars, simplifying construction; they have relatively few "corners", making buildings easier to seal against leaks...   

       If the biggest problem facing light construction was the ability to support weight, then wacky weight-distributing structures might make sense. But no, houses are basically just bubbles around empty space, and the biggest issue is sealing them at the top and bottom.
egnor, Aug 16 2000

       The ecological efficiancy of domes, is in their lower surface to volume ratio, and less wasted space: i.e. the upper corners and edge. this means that they require much less energy to heat and cool than a box of equivilent square footage. This makes them ideal for single family dwellings, and developments of no more than two or three stories - any more than this, and the cube becomes, as you have noted, much more convenient to stack.   

       The hexadome overcomes many of the issues people have regarding the more traditional geodoesics: they require fewer, and larger panels, and are more forgiving in terms of cut tolerences, as well as requiring fewer cuts, and less lumber than either geodoesics or traditional boxes.   

       Three of the walls are completely vertical, and the three angled walls have a much steeper pitch than geodoesics (see photo in the hexadome link above), making it easier to adapt furniture, and allowing one to use standard windows and doors.   

       This translates into lower construction costs, and even faster erection than conventional houses - three people can erect the shell in a day. True, there are trade offs in terms of having to make more angled cuts, more seams to tape, trickier roofing (several spray, and paint on products are available for alternatives) and a virtual two story minimum - it's not for everybody, but it is cheaper and more energy efficient, and requires less material. If one could work out the engineering and find a supplier of steel framing, one could provide low cost, energy efficient housing for the global market.   

       These structures are also much better designed for withstanding earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.
Scott_D, Aug 17 2000

       It's a nice idea, and I promise you the first thing I do when I become rich and famous (though I'd prefer rich and obscure) is to build one. In the mean time there are probably bigger payoffs in investing in simple measures to reduce the energy wastage in the conventional housing stock. Draughtproofing and loft insulation may not be glamourous but it would have a considerable effect with less social resistance (Live in a glass pyramid? Whatever would the neighbours think?) and a quicker payback. I apologise for dragging in practicalities and cost/benefit, which should have no place in the halfbakery. Have a croissant.
Skinny Rob, Aug 17 2000


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