Hoogle Poogle Gypsys Oh!

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The process of choosing which types of construction to use is simple and natural, it is the same process which pioneers and settlers have always used. It begins by choosing a site and looking at what would have to be cleared to build there. Are there lots of trees? is the area littered with rocks? is the ground muddy? Is the area surrounded by fields of grain, and piles of straw bales? Pretty basic and obvious questions, I know, but this is one of the advantages of organic construction.


Now, there are light weight structures, as can be built with wattle and daub, split poles, shingles, etc. which are quick to errect, but unless heated or cooled their internal temperatures do not differ a great deal from the outside temperatures, and when heated or cooled they require a greater deal of energy to keep them comfortable, as the heat will be constantly leaving through the walls and ceiling.

And then there are heavy-weight structures, which offer some combination of mass and insulation. It is wise to understand the advantages offered by each.

Insulation is well understood in the country, as manufactured building promotes it as one of the best ways to keep a structure warm or cool efficiently. Insulation is pretty simple, it is enough to say that the more you have, the more efficient the structure will be. Strawbale excells at this of course, as the walls have about 14 or 23 inches of insulation, giving them a great resistance to the movement of heat. Straw/clay and wood (log cabins or cordwod) are also quite insulating.

The other way of maintaining a stable temperature is by incorporating mass into your building by either building it into the ground, berming earth up around it, or using massive walls, cob, rammed earth, rock, earthbag, earth filled tires, etc. Again, straw/clay and wood have mass as well as insulating properties. Despite having little insulating properties, heat moves through mass slowly, about an inch an hour, so if you have massive 12 inch thick walls, heat and cold will take 12 hours to move through them, making the interior of your walls warmest in the dead of night, and coolest in the afternoon, balancing out the daily temerature swings. 

Taking it a step further, 3 feet down the temperature of the earth varies little 

So, as a general rule, I recomend thick insulation in areas where there is little sunlight in the winter, such as in dense forest or where it is cloudy a lot, and massive structures in places where the sun shines a lot in winter. For places with hot summers I recomend earth sheltered homes.