Reader comment: “I love your designs! I do have a question:
We live in Tucson. Metropolitan area (but not TOO metropolitan) hot most days, hot most nights because the buildings and concrete absorb the heat and release it. It can get cold in the winter (though not much below freezing), but the main issue is the heat. What if we took one of these earthbag designs and just buried it? We are hoping to build our home ourselves, and adding central AC or greener solutions seems . . . intimidating. But we are also concerned that if we buried the house, gravity would make plumbing a challenge. Your thoughts?”
Owen: Building below grade adds expense and complexity. You don’t have to do that in your case. Keep it simple. Build above grade with about 2′ of earth berming and plants. Use wide roof overhangs or wrap around porches so the sun doesn’t hit the walls. Add plenty of ventilation, tall ceilings, roof vents, light colored roof, etc. as explained in my two blog posts about Passive Cooling Strategies here on our Natural Building Blog (see links below). Choose about 10 strategies and your home will remain comfortable year round without AC. This has been proven by our earthbag roundhouse in the tropics.