David B. South, co-inventor of the Monolithic Dome and founder and president of Monolithic, works hard at spreading the word about Monolithic Domes, sharing information and providing suggestions. In the President’s Sphere, David talks about topics related specifically to the construction and care of Monolithic Domes, such as the super insulation and energy efficiency of the domes, their ability to survive virtually any natural or manmade disaster, and Monolithic’s ongoing research and testing of new products. In addition, David talks about and offers solutions to social problems and concerns, such as our nation’s dire need for safe, clean, affordable housing. We invite you to frequently visit the President’s Sphere and review the articles as they’re added.
In the following sample chapter of the ebook Urethane Foam: Magic Material – And the Best Kept Insulation Secret, David explains why the R-value is misleading, how it was devised and why it’s flawed and biased. It also includes case histories and discusses the purpose and workings of insulation.
While attending high school in Idaho back in the late 1950s, I listened to a lecture given by Buckminster Fuller. He was promoting his Geodesic Dome. I was instantly fascinated with the concept of a building which, because of its shape, would cover more area with less materials than any other structure.
Can a Monolithic Dome home have a loft? A stairway? An elevator? A basement? My answer is an emphatic yes to each, followed by an equally emphatic reservation: Carefully analyze your need and/or desire for any of these features and consider the alternatives.
One day in 1979 (we had been building Monolithic Domes for about three years) a US Steel Company salesman showed up selling steel fibers. He told me if I used steel fibers I would not have to use rebar in my Monolithic Domes anymore.
At Monolithic, we have developed a simple structure to provide for the basic needs of a family. It’s a Monolithic EcoShell dome, designed specifically to answer the needs of shelterless people worldwide.
For thirty plus years America’s leaders have been wanting more energy efficient, more hazard resistant, more cost efficient green structures for houses, churches, schools, etc. To those leaders and citizens we now say: We have such structures! Please implement the rules to allow them to happen.
For a very long time we have known, planned around and used the thermal inertia of the Monolithic Dome. We call that thermal inertia the thermal battery. Why battery? Because significant savings in heating and cooling equipment can be achieved if you can trim the highs and lows by using the battery.
While they certainly are not a cure-all for skyrocketing utility expenses, there are three simple and easy but effective things you can do that should help keep your home comfortable and your costs down.
While clients often see architects as a necessary evil, I don’t. The reality is that architects are necessary. But as in any profession, there are the good, the bad and the ugly, or architects who are talented, honest and reliable and their opposites.
Like the opposing ends of a teeter-totter, concrete and steel – two main ingredients of a Monolithic Dome – complement and contradict each other, all at the same time. In a Monolithic Dome, concrete and steel complement each other by working together to give the dome its strength, durability and longevity.
According to the experts, when lightning strikes a Monolithic Dome the electricty will travel to the rebar and dissipate into the footing. Lightning rods are used in conventional homes to prevent the lightning from traveling through the highly resistive wood of the home and starting a fire. They are unnecessary in a Monolithic Dome. The structure is already grounded.
Water vapor molecules (or water in its gas form) try to evenly spread themselves. If one side of a room is full of water vapor molecules, the molecules will move to the other side until the room is evenly populated. In a room, this phenomenon is easily understood. It’s a little more complicated in the real world.
Generally, construction management has three objectives: to allow the customer to control the project and its cost; to provide the customer with knowledgeable advice; to do the day-to-day coordination for the customer using professional administrative techniques. Monolithic Construction Management adheres to those objectives and adds a few more.
David South built his first dome out of toothpicks. But then, he was just a rural Idaho high school kid, burning with youthful enthusiasm, sparked by a Buckminster Fuller speech. David didn’t foresee just building domes; he envisioned building huge domes. “I knew there had to be a way to construct really big domes,” David says. “I saw them as super-size, igloolike structures for commercial use.”
We have a lot of business friends. These are people who, over the years, have influenced our lives and have become our friends. Many have their own businesses, located in various parts of the world and including an entire spectrum of interests.
Terry Gray, State Hazard Mitigation Officer and Mitigation Branch Chief for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) sent an email to more than a dozen State and/or education administrators in Arkansas and to David B. South, president of Monolithic. In it, Mr. Gray explained that during the past six years his department oversaw more than $50,000,000 in grant programs that funded more than 80 community safe rooms, mostly in schools. The email ended with an invitation to an in-depth discussion of disaster survivability, that included a presentation by David B. South — the only invited guest speaker.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) monitoring is not a new concept, but it’s proving to be a tough one to handle. It has to do with the amount of fresh air in a structure.
Most of us have heard of sick buildings. When the air in a building gets polluted with vapors that can be or are harmful to us, the result is a sick building.
Just after a disaster, many people and officials in a ravaged community resolve to do whatever it will take to protect themselves from future losses. Unfortunately, that resolve usually doesn’t last. It’s replaced by something the experts at FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) call hazard amnesia.
We are finding that an Io-20 even when rented at an affordable, fair price will turn a profit for the owner. Conclusion: It is possible to provide drastically needed housing and make money at the same time. That’s a win-win!
I have been contacted by various cities about building little rental units as part of the answer to affordable housing in their areas. Many city administrators now acknowledge that their towns lack affordable housing for those who work and live on the lower end of the pay scale. Those same areas often lack affordable housing for seniors, the physically and mentally challenged, and others.
Building a beach front home offers a few extra challenges such as wind, water, erosion, flying debris and corrosion. A Monolithic Dome home successfully meets each of these challenges.
Compared to other types of structures, the interior temperature of a Monolithic Dome can be more easily and economically maintained. That makes it one of the best structures you can build in either very hot or very cold climates. Monolithic Domes work extremely well in either condition.
To date, of all the school bonds voted on which proposed a Monolithic Dome facility, all but one have passed. We think there is a direct correlation between presenting a Monolithic Dome as part of the proposal for the bond and successfully passing the bond… and here’s why: First and foremost, board members, parents, teachers and community members are concerned about the safety of their children, especially if the community lies in tornado and hurricane prone areas of the country.
We have had our Monolithic Domes checked by professional engineers to calculate the actual heat loss through the structure. This is done by having a measurement of the amount of heating and/or cooling inputs into the building, matching the inputs with the degree days from local weather conditions, and calculating the R-value that must be in place to make the equation balance. In every case, we got an R-value in excess of 80 and generally over 100.
For several decades now our federal and many state governments have been singing the praises of alternative or renewable energy systems. They want us to go to a photovoltaic, solar thermal or wind system for our electricity, instead of our local energy supplier. If, during the day, our Monolithic Dome generates the energy we need plus extra that we sell back and only buy at night, we could have a zero-cost home. That’s a practical, reasonable goal, and chances of obtaining it are far better with a high performance Monolithic Dome simply because the dome, by its very nature, uses so much less energy.
Seniors often come to Monolithic, looking for help in designing a home for their golden years. Some are very realistic and practical about what they need, what they can comfortably afford and how they want to spend the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, others are not.
I recently passed a new McMansion, just built this past year. It sits on about ten acres of land, and it’s gorgeous. What disturbs me is the care such a McMansion requires, especially since its owners are older folks on the brink of retirement. Consider their future. The years will weaken them, but the McMansion will continue requiring the same or a greater amount of care and money.
Several years ago, in Palestine, Texas, I met an elderly but active couple who lived in what the husband had designed, built and called “a Compound House.” Over the years I have thought many times about that Compound House, the husband’s reasons for designing it as he did, how it made sense and how adaptable it would be to our lives.
Building your own dome home means turning yourself into a do-it-yourselfer. Can you afford to do that? Most do-it-yourself projects make very little money per hour. Compare the earning ability of the do-it-yourself project with what you earn at your regular job, including overtime pay you may be able to earn. Can you afford to become a full-time or even a part-time do-it-yourselfer, or might it make better sense to earn as much as you can in your regular job and pay others to build your home?