Follow the adventure of building an earth-sheltered structure in Canada, six hours north of Winnipeg. In brief, they’re exploring how to optimize Mike Oehler’s earth sheltered concept using earthbags. Their greenhouse was a success (an amazing feat that far north), and now they want to build a larger structure. Their plans remind me of ancient Native American designs in Alaska (minus the glass, of course). So the challenge is how to improve upon the indigenous designs that evolved over centuries.
“It will take a couple of years, but in the end we are going to put up an earth-sheltered solar structure that will serve as a shop, wine lab, and hopefully a diesel distillery, along with a small apartment. It will be built in the same fashion in which we built our underground greenhouse, except that it will have a dirt roof, and an atrium between its front wall and a retaining wall uphill. This week we slowly started clearing trees from this area…an hour in the morning and an hour of cleaning up. When this is done I shall survey the plot. Then we will call in a track hoe which will excavate the hole for us.”
5 thoughts on “The Earth-Sheltered Solar Canadian”
I don’t see why any home can’t be built with the earth as a tempered element in it’s design! Solar south side with most of the home being constructed with both insulation and earth to keep out the cold in winter and heat in summer? The south side should have a greenhouse in the design running the length of the house. Build lots of mass to hold heat eg:hemp plant containers, hemp water filtering containers, benches and storage unit -seating etc. But at night it should have insulated moveable shutters of some sort to keep the acquired heat from both the sun and other internal sources from escaping so as to keep the occupants warm! Food may be grown during the year in the greenhouse and should have adequate venting for humidity. The designed roof should let excess water from rain flow toward a filtered tank to add recycled water for drinking and showering, grey water is used for the toilet and watering of plants. The overall size of the house should be kept to 200 sq. ft per person (sleeping). The smaller the house the easier to heat, while having a single floor and having all rooms on the south side give everyone the much needed light and plant life! On the outer sides of your home should be places for storage, garage, closets, battery compartments and rear exits. All entrances-exits should be built with a mud room-air chamber to mitigate heat loss? Energy can be generated from photovoltaics and a vertical axis wind generator! Imagination is the key ! Side note: every house on the planet must be redesigned to be green? Thoughts anyone?
I agree with almost everything you wrote here.
What happened to the Earth Sheltered Solar Canadian blog? I’ve been checking it off and on for a few months hoping it would be back, but no luck. I had been hoping to contact the author this spring as I live in the same climate and planned on starting a similar project. Did he change sites perhaps?
Earth sheltered is the way to go, especially in harsh, cold climates like Canada. I’m surprised more people don’t build along these lines. Maybe oil prices need to go up higher so people aren’t so wasteful?
I’ll never forget the Native American museum exhibit of a pit house in Anchorage, Alaska. I couldn’t stop staring at it. People lived in structures like this for thousands of years without causing hardly any pollution. This lifestyle really captures my imagination.
It’s a marvel and too bad our society didn’t evolve infrastructure in a way more in tune with the landscape, such as this.
In fact, this single photograph has given me an idea for a long-term illustration and design project to create fictional cities in place of real ones which exist in harmony with the original landscape, minimally visible, organic architecture and preserving the original majesty of whatever particular Biome they would have replaced in reality.
Thanks for pointing me to this post, it is inspirational on more than just one level. :-D