Cost to cool your building

This Texas school has two conventional buildings, each with 20 air conditioning units along its back wall. That’s 40 units for just one tax-supported school! What does it cost to install and run 40 ac units in hot, humid Texas? Also, consider that this is a school for less than 300 students.

Like many traditional schools, this building has a line of 20 air conditioning units along its back wall. The companion building has another 20 units along its back wall. That’s 40 AC units at just one school! Consider what it costs to install 20 units. How much electrical do those 20 units require? How much copper? How much just plain expense does it take to install and run 20 units?

Underground Air Piping

It is a well known fact that if you get below the surface of the earth a few feet, the temperature tends to be very even and at a constant 55 to 60 degrees, depending on latitude. So, it does not take a genius to understand that if you could move outside air through a buried pipe, you could alter its temperature and then move it into a house where it can warm or cool the home’s interior.

Heating And Cooling Systems for Monolithic Dome Homes

Air flows naturally in a Monolithic Dome — As the warm air rises to the top, it unloads heat into the shell. The heat then radiates back down the shell thus generating only a two to four degrees variance in temperature from the bottom to the top of the dome.

Determining the size of heating and cooling systems for Monolithic Domes offers some really special challenges. These challenges require serious original thinking. Factors that mean almost nothing in conventional structures are important in Monolithic Domes.

Fresh Air and ERVs

Energy Recovery Unit — This RecoupAerator ERV was installed in a window at Charca Casa, the Monolithic Dome home of Judy and David South, and monitored closely.  It proved very efficient. The Souths’ home is now always under 1200 ppm — even with lots of company.

How do you bring fresh, breathable air inside your home, school or church without losing your Monolithic Dome’s energy efficiency? Here’s what I have learned.

Design Criteria for HVAC in the Monolithic Dome

Shown here are the major components of air handling.
  ERV (Energy Recovery Ventilator) — the proper device to bring fresh air into building and exhaust the building air. No other is desired or needed.
  HVAC — provides the heating and cooling for structure.
  Circulation — can be provided by large fans or separate ducted.
  Thermal Mass (or Thermal Battery) — provided by concrete shell – it is important to properly use it.

To the HVAC engineer, the Monolithic Dome presents some serious challenges. The number one challenge has to do with recognizing and understanding the thermodynamics of the Monolithic Dome. Unlike any structure built in the conventional world, the Monolithic dome is a very large thermal storage.

Determine HVAC Needs For A Monolithic Dome: An Engineer’s Advice

Gordon Cuthbertson, owner of Cuthbertson Mechanical Engineers, of Mesa, Arizona and Ontario, Canada, was a skeptic. When Gordon first got involved with Monolithic Domes about four years ago, he, like so many others, had a hard time accepting and believing what the Monolithic Dome Institute (MDI) says about the thermal mass capability of its structures.

R-Value: Effective 100!

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.