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Earth Sheltered CEB construction.  RSS feed

 
Yen Has
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Hello. How are you?

We plan on building an earth sheltered home in North Cyprus. We do not want to build from cement as this is not a sustainable method and as far as I know it retains too much heat. We want to build with compressed earth blocks. Although I am clueless in this type of construction. I believe it will give advantages such as mold proofing the building with a lime wash finish due to high humidity levels in Cyprus. Also allowing the building to breathe and naturally keeping building temperatures more stable during hot summers and cold winters. What is your experience with building with compressed earth blocks underground? How about waterproofing the ceb blocks? Does anyone have any ideas?

We plan on building the earth sheltered home on a North facing slope as it can be very hot here during the summer ( up to 41C ) and the winter is mild (temperatures no average 15 in winter). So we wouldn't need to heat the house. The main issue would be keeping it cool. And we can solve this by having our only windows facing the North (the sea side). The only issue would be light, but maybe we can solve this by building a wider home instead of having deep rooms, although I do not know if this will defeat the purpose of having an earth sheltered home. Another challenge we face would be ventilation. Possibly a thermal chimney would solve this but I do not know how to go about this in a earth sheltered home. Does anyone have any experience with earth sheltered homes in hot humid climates?

Of course we would be needing a rain catching system, a grey water system and definitely a solar or wind powers system as we will be off grid.

Thank you for your time.
 
R Scott
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CEB's and humidity and earth sheltered do not go together safely. CEB's will return to mud as they absorb humidity, unless you add enough binder (cement) that you lose your "greenness"

As to the north slope, you can make a thermal chimney that also lets in light but leaves the heat in the chimney.

 
Yen Has
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Thank you for your input.

So ceb's do not work in humidity? Even if rendered and covered in lime? How about waterproofing them?
 
R Scott
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If you waterproof them, they don't dry out. They get wet slower, but they will eventually get wet and fail, as all waterproofing fails.

How were houses originally built on Cyprus? What style and materials. Copy the style, choose a similar material.

 
Yen Has
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Hi

Yes they used Adobe construction
(soil mixed with straw) 30 years ago but know they use concrete unfortunately. Some villages still use Adobe construction. CEB is better than Adobe in my opinion because it's more durable.

I heard of earth sheltered CEB construction in Germany. But not sure if it will work in a humid climate such as ours. I think it may be possible but I am yet to find a way. Or maybe some other method of constructing underground without using tons of cement.
 
R Scott
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I did a lot of research, and all of it said to not have any ground contact outside of pure desert environments.

You can do earthbag as ground contact, but you have to use aggregate in the bags. Not sure if you have a source for scoria (lava rock) or similar.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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R. Scott is giving you excellent guidance. Cobb, CEB, and the related are not meant for below grade application!

Can it be done? YES...the effort is not worth it or advisable, and never for a structural application.

Do you have any vernacular traditional styles in your region that are built below grade? How are they designed and constructed?


Regards,

j
 
Yen Has
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Hi

Thank you for your input!

No we do not have vernacular style here. Pretty much all is concrete and adobe, although some light steel construction is available. Thats about it. There are no earth sheltered (underground) homes in Cyprus.

I have found these, not quite what I had in mind. Pretty cool none the less
http://blog.opensourceecology.org/2009/07/ceb-vault-construction/
http://www.gernotminke.de/galerie/galerie.html

I think I will go for good old concrete. The reason I want to build underground is to get away from the heat. It is simply getting too hot to live. And air conditioning bills are through the roof.

The only obstacle I can see is waterproofing and the high humidity where I live. I am thinking of underground piping and solar powered exhaust fans for ventilation. Do you how I can calculate approximate needed airflow do control humidity. Also, what is available and most efficient for ventilation?

Thanks
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi Yen,

I will give aid where I can, yet as a traditional builder of timber frame, stone and earth homes from that region through to Japan...I am going to lean toward not reinventing any wheels for the appropriate forms of architecture for Cyprus. Many stone and timber forms there are very much like you would find in the Mountains of Turkey and the rest of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

HVAC formulaic statistical dynamic calculations are very "squishy" at best and almost impossible to project (anyone to claim otherwise is probably selling something or a service.) You just have to wade in and start designing and projecting possible "potential" airflow and humidity control modalities.

Are you building this yourself? What about local Timberwrights with vernacular experience. Have you consider a gabion style of building...these can be adapted to fossorial architecture.

Regards,

j
 
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