Earth Tubes: Low Tech, Super Low Energy
Categories: Heating / Cooling
Brian Jonas at Greenline, the great sustainability blog from Ziger/Snead Architects, shows a great picture of an earth tube being installed at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center. Earth tubes are the dead-simple way of bringing fresh air into a building at a reasonable temperature- just run the air through pipes buried in the earth, cool in summer and warm in winter. Result: it comes out at a nice, comfortable temperature. Unfortunately it is a nice temperature for mildew and bacteria, not to mention a great place for animals to nest; Brian notes that "Ductwork or pipes rated for underground use are employed, the ducts must slope to drain to avoid water and mildew build-up and additional filtration is sometimes required to eliminate mold and bacteria." Radon buildup can also be a problem, so they need to be tightly sealed. ::Greenline
Here is part of the process of installation of Earthtubes for an above ground mound in Manitoba Earthship:
And Here is the use of Earthtubes for heating and cooling a Skyscraper:
So Notice that we can use the earth for heating and cooling large commercial buildings as well as homes. It just takes planning according to size of the structure. It's for this reason that when I think about efficiency, I no longer think about what I can do to my home to make it efficient. I think about starting over with a new plan to build with straw bales or earth mound style in which true efficiency is gained and future energy costs will be minimal or zero. How about you? What are your plans for the future?