02 Earth-Sheltered Active Home Plans
02 EARTH-SHELTERED ACTIVE HOME PLANS
Living Area: 194.56 m2 | 2,094 sq.ft.
Occupants: 2 Adults, 3 Children, Pets
Sun, air, water and earth provide life on our planet, and it is these four elements of Nature that form the basis of this project.
The potentials of solar energy have never really been used adequately exploited by Humankind.
Air quality, and particularly indoor air quality, has always been a building aspect largely neglected by designers.
Earth remains one of the most abundant materials on the planet, whereas water, on the other hand, might soon become the rarest of the four elements.
Therefore, solar radiation, indoor air quality, water collection, treatment and conservation, together with the fine insulating properties of earth, provide the principles on which this hybrid, but considerably active solar design is founded.
Earth-sheltered buildings are best protected against extreme temperature variations, storms, earthquakes, noise and sadly, even military air strikes. With this in mind, as well as the passive design principles of internal heat zoning and compact planning, was this Eco-House designed.
We believe it a wonderful place in which to live; warm and quiet, with light flooding in from the south, the ventilation system providing clean and fresh air, while being sheltered by beautiful landscape. Being underground, sheltered by the earth, means that the house has a far more stable environment than above-ground buildings.
Below ground, the temperature remains pretty constant, there are no wind chill factors to worry about, no lashing rain, no baking sun. It also means that the house is very quiet and peaceful.
Combining the shelter of the earth with high levels of insulation means that in temperate climates the house would need almost no extra heating whatsoever – all of the heat it needs is available from the sun alone. Being underground also means that the house disappears into the landscape, making it unobtrusive visually as well as ecologically.
The north side of this eco-house could be ideally embedded into the sloping ground of a mountainous region, but can also be built on level ground of valleys and plains, since excavated earth could easily be bermed to cover the building on three sides. The fully glazed south face is inclined at 60 degrees to the horizontal and encloses the greenhouse (conservatory) comprising an internal fountain/pond. It rises over the Ground Floor and the First Floor to meet the glazed northlight reinforced concrete shells that have been designed for their outstanding sun/wind-catching properties, while also roofing the house. The greenhouse makes use of the "greenhouse effect" principle to trap sun rays and build up hot air, that is further transferred to the living room and - using a system of open mezzanine spaces, and further into bedrooms. The greenhouse also serves the purpose of space for socialising, which can be used for growing vegetables.
Photovoltaic (PVC) cells along the ridge convert sunlight into electricity. To ensure an efficient use of solar energy, materials with high thermal storage capacity were selected.
The utility room located in north part of the house accommodates all HVAC and other equipment. A ventilation system creates a state of low pressure, drawing heated air from the greenhouse into the living areas. A supplementary heating system can also be provided, though with a time switch to turn it off so that the use of outside energy does not become the rule. In the summer, the south face can be opened to two-thirds of its area. Sun-screening is envisaged as an option, should your local geographic latitude and climatic conditions so require. The ventilation system can also be reversed to circulate cooler air from the north side through the house, thus cooling your home, if need be.
Roof area can in its entirety be used for planting a vegetables roof garden, thereby providing an independent food source to the occupants.
Walls and foundations are made of recycled concrete blocks with recycled paper fillings. Recycled glass is used for floor insulation, as well. An insulating entry air-lock has been provided, with tempered, insulated glass sliding doors.
All windows are double-glazed, with the possibilities of including the beadwall system, as well.
Water-saving toilet seats and other water-saving sanitary equipment has been used throughout the project. All installations between the lower and upper floors run through a vertical service shaft (duct), fully accessible for inspection and maintenance by means of access panel.
|Ground Floor Plan||m2||sq.ft||First Floor Plan||m2||sq.ft|
|Living & Dining||33.74
|Kitchen||6.41||69||Master Bedroom 1||11.84||127|
|Utility Room||9.44||102||Powder Room
|Store Room||2.72||29||Master Bathroom||1.86||20
||2.86||31||Fitness Room | Study
|Total Ground Floor:||95.66||1,030||Total First Floor:||53.69||578|
|Second Floor Plan||m2||sq.ft|
|Master Bedroom 2||20.95||225|
|Total Second Floor:||45.21||487|
REGISTER OF WORKING DRAWINGS (PLANS)
|Drawing Title||Sheet Size||Sheet Size||Sheet Size||Number of Sheets|
|Vertical Circulation Details (Staircase Details)||A2||1|
|Joinery Details (Doors & Windows)||A2||3|
|Rainwater Treatment Details||A1||1|
|Specifications of Eco-building Materials & Products||A4||Complete Set|
|Materials Quantity List||A4||Complete Set|
|Specifications of HVAC and IAQ (Indoor Air Quality)||A4||Complete Set|
|Roofing Details (comprised in Structural Calculations)||A4||1|
|Interior Finishing Details||A4||10|
|Photovoltaics (PVC Solar Panels) Details||A2||A4||3|
|Shading Devices Details||A4||12|
|Rainwater Treatment Details||A1||1|
ECOTECTURAL DESIGN FEATURES
Feature 1: The Greenhouse | Conservatory
A greenhouse (or conservatory) creates a new living or working area - in fact a space that will remove the dividing line between inside and outside, so that each environment is enriched by the awareness of the other. It can extend your home on one or more levels, opening it up to light, sun and the surrounding landscape. Imagine a conservatory design studio, or a greenhouse as poolside lounge! On top of all that come rooflights as atria, combining natural light with a moderating micro-climate.
Thus, much contrary to popular belief, greenhouses do not serve just to provide the heating effect of the "greenhouse" effect and heat up the house interior (which is its primary technical function), but also to enhance one's lifestyle and replenish the soul.
The greenhouse also serves the purpose of space for socialising, which can be used for growing vegetables as the additional or supplementary food supply to homestead.
Feature 2: Rainwater Collection and Treatment
Surface water was easily utilised in this EcoHouse design to reduce domestic water consumption and expenses. Being earth-sheltered, the water tank is protected from extremely low or high temperatures. The falls around the tank are profiled in such a way as to funnel stormwater into the
Collected water is then thoroughly treated for domestic consumption using a 'state-of-the-art' stormwater treatment system, processed by 100% biological means which is 100% safe for domestic use.
Feature 3: Photovoltaic (PV) Solar Panels
A photovoltaic (PV) device is designed to produce electricity as well as to enhance building architecture. A photovoltaic module is a power generating device that produces electricity when exposed to light. It is composed of thin, solid-state PV cells that cover a relatively large surface in order to absorb maximum sunlight and produce a significant amount of energy. The module can be made in many shapes and many modules can be connected in strings to produce more power.
From the architectural standpoint, a PV module is a covering material comparable in cost to other construction materials. The reduction in utillity costs can offset the extra costs of using PV modules as a construction material. Some local governments may even give subventions to households that thus produce more electricity than they need, provided that extra power produced can then be returned to the public power network.
PV elements can be fabricated in different forms. They can be used on or integrated into roofs and facades as part of the outer building cladding, or they can be used as part of a window, skylight or shading device. PV laminates provide long-lasting weather protection. Their expected life span is in excess of 30 years. Warranties are commonly available for a 20-year period and above.
PV systems are modular in nature and can be adapted to changing situations. They can usually be added to, removed, and reused in other applications. Typical modules consist of glass laminates, plastic tedlar bounding material and silicon cells with trace amounts of boron and phosphorous. Their disposal or recycling after their life span must not create any environmental problems.
Facades occupy the majority of the surface area of the structural shell of the building. PV laminates provide the same architectural appearance as tinted glass. PV modules used as a facade can be tailor-made for size and shape, and they can be configured as a simple facade plate or as a multi-functional element for cold or warm facades.
PV modules can operate as shading devices or as windows within the outer skin of the building. The PV cell itself can be so thin that it is possible to see through it; a cell can provide a 20-50% filtered vision to the exterior or the cells. Alternately, the laminate can be spaced so that partial lighting filters through the PV element and illuminates the room.
Feature 4: Reflecting-Insulating Skylights | Windcatches
- Sunlight reflected into the building in the morning, afternoon or the winter season;
- Protection against excessive sunlight.
The windcatches used for natural cross-ventilation are combined with skylights to serve as additional natural light sources. Ideally, these skylights should be oriented to face prevailing winds and natural lighting.
The windcatches are provided with an inner reflecting surface attached to an insulating board. Thus, the former reflects sunlight into the building, while the latter prevents heat loss from the inside to the outside.
Feature 5: HVAC & IAQ
- Warm, stale air from the home is returned to the Air Furnace;
- Outdoor air travels through the fresh air intake and is brought into the integral HRV;
- The fresh and stale air pass through opposite sides of the HRV aluminium heat exchange core;
- Heat from the stale air is transferred to the fresh air;
- Stale air is exhausted outside;
- Hot water is sent from the water heater to the furnace heating coil;
- A PSC type high-efficiency fan blows the tempered fresh air from the HRV into the coil;
- The circulation pump distributes hot water through the coil;
- The circulating hot water heats the air to the desired temperature;
- Warm, fresh air is distributed to registers throughout the Eco-House;
- .The hot water travels through the coil and returns to the water heater for domestic use.
Even if you do not live in an ultra-efficient home, you have probably spent some time recently weather stripping doors and windows, caulking around frames, filling walls and attics with insulation. Yet our homes today are built to keep fresh air out. All in the name of energy-efficiency.
As a result, you may have cut your heating and air conditioning costs. Excellent. But at the same time you have made it more difficult for fresh air to move into your home and for stale air to move out. The indoor air quality has deteriorated, and that makes the home environment uncomfortable and unhealthy.
Our proposed solution for HVAC (Heating, Ventialtion and Air Conditioning) and IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) uses a domestic water heater as its heat source. The efficient system creates a healthier, more comfortable home environment while lowering energy bills. This combination heating system results in higher efficiency ratings than are possible with conventional furnaces i.e. - lower fuel costs for you. It offers a solution to protect the occupants from the pollutants in your eco-home while reducing heating and air conditioning costs and has a built-in Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) that replaces stale air with fresh.
Our proposed system brings outdoor air through the built-in HRV, ensuring fresh, healthy heating of your home - all for the cost of a high efficiency furnace. Although your Eco-House will not always require heating, the ventilation component of the HRV works year-round to provide a constant stream of fresh air to every room of your house.
The system operates safely and quietly. Instead of the periodic bursts of hot air distributed by conventional furnaces, a steady stream of warm air is released throughout the house - reducing
drafts, and creating a more even temperature distribution. The atmosphere in your Eco-House will be noticeably improved.
This heating system provides constant ventilation and a steady stream of warm air for the healthiest, most comfortable home environment possible, with efficiency of up to 90%.
The Clean Air Furnace allows for the addition of a plenum-mounted air conditioner. As long as the furnace is controlled by a thermostat with a fan auto/on switch, users can select heating or cooling with ventilation to meet your climate control needs in every season.
The compact Clean Air Furnace uses hot water as its heat source. Water is pumped from your home water heater to the furnace heating coil. A fan with a PSC high-efficiency motor blows the fresh air from the HRV into the heating coil where the circulating water warms the air. Water leaves the heater, travels through the hot water circulation pump, and returns to the water heater. As the water travels through the furnace's heating coil, air is warmed ad sent to registers throughout the house.
The HRV removes stale, contaminated air from inside the Eco-House to the outdoors. At the same time, it draws fresh, oxygen-laden air from outside and distributes it throughout the house. Polluted air is constantly being replaced by an equal quantity of fresh, clean air.
Feature 6: Domestic Food Production Using Vegetable Gardens and Vegetable Rooftop Gardens
A vegetable garden is a garden that exists to grow vegetables and other plants useful for human consumption, in contrast to a flower garden that exists for aesthetic purposes. It is a small-scale form of vegetable growing. A vegetable garden typically includes a compost heap and several compartments of land, intended to grow one or two types of plant in each plot. Compartments may also be divided into rows with an assortment of vegetables grown in the different rows.
With worsening economic conditions and increased interest in organic and sustainable living, many people are turning to vegetable gardening as a supplement to their family's diet. Food grown in this manner consumes little, if any, fuel for shipping or maintenance, and the grower can be sure of what exactly was used to grow it.
Subject to climatic conditions, sunlight and irrigation requirements, there are many crops that can be grown in a vegetable garden with very little intervention and if the following conditions are met:
- Provide nutritious soil;
- Keep the soil moist (not drenched or claggy);
- Provide plenty of sublight;
- Protect from pests.
Accordingly, some of the fastest growing vegetables that are sure to keep your dining table full of nutritious treats, are green onions (21 days), lettuce (30 days), spinach (30 days), kale (30 days), turnips (30 to 55 days), beets (35 to 60 days), zucchini (40 to 50 days), 'radishes (21 days), scallions (21 days), sunflower shoots (12 days), tatsoi (25 days), arugula (30 days), bok choy (30 to 45 days), bush beans (40 to 55 days), broccoli rabe (40 to 60 days), Swiss chard (45 days), baby carrots (50 days) and cucumber (50 days).