Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘insulated’

Hart house in Colorado made with scoria-filled earthbags

Hart house in Colorado made with scoria-filled earthbags


There are lots of options for building insulated earthbag houses. At this time, scoria and pumice are my favorite. These materials are fireproof, rot proof, easy to work with, don’t attract pests, lightweight, etc. Kelly Hart pioneered the use of scoria bags in his dome home and carriage house in Colorado, and in my opinion this method deserves much more attention.

My Instructable above describes numerous ways for building insulated earthbag homes, and we keep learning more good options:
Foam glass gravel
Expanded clay granules
Foamy geopolymer with perlite
Lightweight geopolymer
Perlite Roundhouses
Rice Hull Earthbag House (make sure to keep the rice hulls dry or they will rot)
Solar Pit House (uses recycled polystyrene)

Good examples of insulated earthbag houses:
Half Moon Earthbag Earthship
Northern New Mexico House
Earthbag Scoria Casita

Read Full Post »

Lightweight, insulating geopolymer is ideal for many applications.

Lightweight, insulating geopolymer is ideal for many applications.


As reported in a previous blog post just recently, low cost raschel mesh tube material is now available. (Thanks again to Patti Stouter for tracking this down.) Affordable mesh tubing means hyperadobe is now a more realistic option for many earthbaggers. A growing number of people think hyperadobe is the fastest, easiest earthbag method currently available. It all goes back to Fernando Soneghet Pacheco, the original developer of hyperadobe, who improved the superadobe technique because after having done a course he realized that there were a few problems. The hyperadobe is superior because mesh bags or tubes are narrower, so less soil is needed and it’s cheaper. You can also save money with doors and window bucks (rough frames) as they don’t need to be so wide. The soil dries much faster. The mesh material increases stability and in some cases can eliminate the need for barbed wire. In addition, plaster bonds more readily to the mesh.

The real purpose of this blog post is to point out how lightweight fill materials such as scoria and pumice can be used in the hyperadobe system to create superinsulated buildings in harsh climates. Options include loose scoria and pumice with no binder (requires some additional reinforcing), and scoria, pumice, recycled polystyrene, perlite or vermiculite bonded with clay. Although it hasn’t been done yet, I believe stiff mixes of pumicecrete, perlite geopolymer cement, cellular lightweight geopolymer concrete, hempcrete and other similar materials could be used. This idea ties in with my blog posts about Lightweight, Insulating Geopolymer Earthbags. The main addition here is the suggestion of using mesh bags and tubes to improve the system. Please let us know if you experiment with some of these materials.

We’ve already reported on hyperadobe in detail, but here are a few links for new readers:
Hyperadobe Update
Open Weave Fabric: Ideal Working Properties
Hyperadobe Continued
Mesh Bags Versus Poly Bags: Differences in Working Properties
Mesh Bag Details
More Hyperadobe Videos
Hyperadobe Update from Brazil

Read Full Post »

Traditional pit house at Mesa Verde

Traditional pit house at Mesa Verde


Modern Solar Pit House for extremely cold climates (click to enlarge)

Modern Solar Pit House for extremely cold climates (click to enlarge)


I’ll never forget the Native American museum exhibit of a pit house in Anchorage, Alaska. I couldn’t stop staring at it. Pit houses are so simple and yet so effective that people lived in structures like this for thousands of years with relatively minimal environmental harm. This building method and lifestyle really captures my imagination and provides many lessons for modern societies.

Earth sheltered housing is the way to go, especially in harsh, cold climates like Canada. I’m surprised more people don’t build along these lines. Why not take what’s proven to work and update the design to suit our needs? That’s exactly what I did with this design. I was looking at pit houses on the Internet and realized you could just add windows on one side and greatly improve the design. And instead of a square, make it rectangular for additional solar gain. Yesterday’s post showed the proposed Solar Pit House floorplan. Tomorrow’s post will examine the section view and structural details.

Read Full Post »

Mesh Bags of Recycled Foam

Mesh Bags of Recycled Foam


Patti Stouter has been experimenting with all sorts of things, including using mesh bags of recycled foam. She wants to build a Nubian vault with these bags of foam on a rebar frame.

Scrap materials are often large enough to fit well in cheaper open weave vexar mesh tubes. This stretchy plastic tubing is used for onion bags, and makes firm rolls of scrap foam or packing peanuts 10”- 12” in diameter (25- 30 cm). Softer materials like strips of grocery bags can be fluffed and used as a cavity fill, but may require a sturdier mesh base for the plaster.

Note: test a sample bag before making large purchases to ensure they will work for your project.

Note: There’s lots of content on our websites about building insulated earthbag houses. Use the search function in the upper right of the page and search for terms such as insulated, cold climate, etc. Here’s one link on insulated earthbag houses.

Read Full Post »

Prototype of an insulated bamboo wall

Prototype of an insulated bamboo wall


This Instructable describes an innovative way to build walls using bamboo or wood saplings and bags of insulation. We’ll be using bamboo for this Instructable since it is rapidly renewable, low cost and readily available in many parts of the world. Let’s start with some background information to better understand what is involved.

People often wonder how to build interior walls on earthbag and strawbale homes, which are about 18” wide once plastered. These building methods create strong, stable walls that are ideal for exterior walls, but they take up too much space for interior walls.

There are numerous ways to build interior walls. The most common method — wood framed walls — has numerous drawbacks. Lumber is expensive and, at least in the U.S., is often harvested from unsustainable sources that devastate forests and then shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles. Awareness of this issue is creating a growing demand for more sustainable and lower cost alternatives. (Plus, a lot of the wood being sold nowadays warps and twists badly.)

You can read the entire Insulated Bamboo Walls Instructable at Instructables.com for free.

Note: My other Instructables (mostly on earthbag building) have been viewed over 200,000 times in just the last few weeks.

Read Full Post »

Insulated Earthbag Foundations for Yurts

Insulated Earthbag Foundations for Yurts


This Instructable includes complete step-by-step instructions on how to make an insulated earthbag foundation. You can use the same process to make insulated foundations for any type of structure – straw bale, earthbag, cordwood, etc.

Yurts or gers are very efficient and practical in harsh, cold climates, as evidenced by centuries of use in Mongolia. Benefits of yurts include affordability, rapid construction, ease of construction, wind resistance, great looks and portability (ability to take your home with you if you ever move). You may even save on taxes since some jurisdictions do not consider yurts permanent homes.

Many people build their yurts on a raised wooden platform to reduce moisture problems. But wood is expensive and building a platform/deck requires a fair amount of tools and carpentry know-how. Wood is vulnerable to fires and prone to rot and insect damage. It also requires regular painting or sealing.

In addition to the many other uses for earthbags, you can build insulated foundations by filling the bags with insulation such as scoria. The benefits of the insulated earthbag foundation system described here include:
– Very low cost, especially if you can locate recycled grain bags from farmers
– Very simple construction using just a few tools most people already have
– Save energy and enjoy a more comfortable home because the floor and foundation are superinsulated (plus, there’s no wind blowing under the floor to suck heat away)
– No deep footings/excavation required (research Frost-protected Foundations for technical details if you’re interested)
– The finished floor can be raised above grade as high as necessary (Deep snow? Flooding? No problem.)

3D AutoCAD drawings show each step of construction.

You might want to follow the Earth-Sheltered Solar Canadian blog, who’s planning to build an insulated earthbag foundation that’s suitable for extremely cold climates. It’s the same process as outlined in this Instructable, but they will use a deeper trench with insulated earthbags below grade to create a Frost-protected Shallow Foundation (FPSF). Combine these two ideas – FPSF and insulated earthbag foundations as shown in this Instructable – and you’ll have everything you need to know for free.

You can read the complete Insulated Earthbag Foundations for Yurts article by Owen Geiger at Instructables.com.

Read Full Post »

There’s great, untapped potential for superinsulated earthbag buildings in cold climates. Here’s a way to combine the best features of earthbags and yurts. The basic idea is to combine earthbag walls filled with lightweight insulation such as scoria (lava rock), with a traditional yurt roof frame that’s insulated with perlite or vermiculite.

Yurts (ghers) have been used in Mongolia and other areas for centuries. Traditional yurts are well suited for cold, windy places, in part because the wind just blows around them. They can, however, be made even more comfortable with extra insulation in earthbags.

Scoria is perfect for superinsulated earthbag walls: low cost, all natural, rot proof, fireproof, doesn’t attract pests, lightweight and easy to work with. Scoria is great for building walls since the aggregates tend to lock together and form stable walls. Tie courses together with twine for best results, and then cover walls with canvas.

Yurt roof frames are readily available through numerous suppliers, and fast and easy to assemble. The steel tension cable is strong yet light. They are very resource efficient, using minimal wood, but often lack adequate insulation. I recommend tying bags of lightweight insulation to the bottom of the frame. Perlite and vermiculite would be excellent choices for ceiling insulation since they’re very lightweight.

This design is portable, just like traditional yurts. The entire structure can be disassembled and transported if necessary. This would be a dream structure for places like Minnesota, Canada, Alaska, Siberia and Mongolia because it would be super comfortable, inexpensive, portable, wind resistant, owner built and could be built in many sizes. Add a skylight, rocket stove, small solar panel and composting toilet and then you can laugh at the wind howling by.

Note: you can use recycled bags if available (often farmers have them). You can also order tubes from poly bag suppliers. They make custom sizes. Tubes are faster to fill since you don’t have to stop and tie the ends as often. A 12″ tube (measured when empty) that provides 10″ of insulation when filled would be ideal for many cold climates. Simply tie the tubes to the yurt frame with twine. Use whatever insulation is most practical in your area.

Read Full Post »