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Climate / Arkansas Tornadoes 2014
« on: April 28, 2014, 10:22:42 AM »
One of the extreme weather events humanity may have to live with in the foreseeable future:

SUN Newz & Current Events / What to call this category?
« on: April 22, 2014, 12:19:12 PM »
Anyone else have issues with "Heliopath"?

Path - from  πάθος (pathos) - meaning to suffer - as in sociopaths making society suffer.  A "heliopath" suggests affliction of some kind and may have unfortunate associations with the various "xxxxxx-pathic" personality types attracted to the diner.  It may not be suitable here.  Sun is about solutions, not problems. 


Shelter / Standard dome Models
« on: April 22, 2014, 11:49:47 AM »
We've done the course, shot foam and concrete, listened to all the talks on the whys and the wherefores, so we've reached the point where we need to ask, "what next?"

"Saving as many as we can" is not going to be cheap and I think MDI has hit on model that can work well - the rental unit.  However, the standard IO-20 (314 square feet) is not that efficient.  It's an oblate sphere, so the surface area to volume is high.  While it provides a good, time-proven shelter, it's also cramped.  The cost to go to an IO-24 (450 square feet) is expensive, and pushes up costs which have to be passed on to the renter.

What's the most efficient space?  A perfect sphere - we learn that from nature.  In our case, a half-sphere.  But on anything larger than 20 ft across, we "waste space" in the head room.  The usual solution is to go oblate again, lowering the center of the ceiling so the "vaulted ceiling" is not quite so bad.  MDI also experimented with a fourplex design but those units have a number of issues, primarily noise with the particular acoustics inside a dome, and a very small space (250 square feet)

I believe our solution is the 37' internal diameter dome, subdivided into 4 apartments.  What makes our design unique is the use of loft space to provide a separate sleeping area, and allow an illusion of additional space.

Entering the dome, stairs lead upwards to a sleeping loft, which accommodates a full-sized bed, ample closet space, and a study desk, with a view down into the main living area and the entrance.  A fitted kitchen takes advantage of the 36-inch augments to recess the sink and maximize livable floor space, while a 30" door (or a pocket door) gives access in the well-appointed bathroom.  A window over the kitchen sink provides light to the kitchen area, while another tall window next to the door illuminates the stairs and the living area, and also provides a little natural light to the loft.  A skylight over the bedroom area is an option.

Each of the domes is constructed with three inches of foam as a sound barrier between apartments, since MDI's experience is that noise abatement is a challenge due to the shape of the dome.  Normal, flat ceilings on each floor also address this issue. 

Around 250 square feet of living space, a 36 square foot bathroom, and a loft bedroom of around 100 square feet - renting at $ 100 - $ 150 a week, depending on location.  That includes utilities such as water, electricity and possibly internet.   That's 450 a month in a rural location, where someone sick and tired of the rat race can semi-retire on a limited fixed-income.

The assisted living model (not shown) has three 250 square feet living area, a 36 square feet disabled bathroom in each; the forth unit has a disabled bath/shower, social area, and stairs up to the caregiver's apartment - 450 square feet with a large kitchen, living area and bedroom, where the resident couple prepare the meals for the three people in their care below.   

Another model has two rentals and a 700 square feet apartment.  Rental on the two units should provide around $ 8,000 a year supplemental income for the owner, making affordable housing a service that the semi-retired can provide, while taking care of their own need for reliable, local income.  A 1,300 - 1,500 square foot dome home can be built into the same "standard" airform. 

The "emergency shelter/emergency housing" model can provide a safe place to sleep for up to 18-24 individuals, plus common cooking and sanitation facilities, and 27 cubic feet of personal locker space per individual. 

By standardizing, we can take advantage of production methods not normally used with domes.  Where ten or more identical domes are being built in one place, the Ecoshell I method will be favored.  This allows the foaming and exterior surface to be applied by a third part specializing in barrier roofing, and with 17,000 square feet of commercial surface, allows for a regular maintenance contract.  For private home building we'd recommend an individual airform since the economies of scale for a support contract will not be there. 

Standard design also allows for reusable forms for the concrete work, for the prefab of certain pieces, maximizing the speed in which units can be put up.  Time from starting the forms to handing the keys to a resident should be no longer than eight weeks, with a target of four weeks. 

The MDI construction technique allows for up to 8' skylight in the center with no loss of structural strength.  The 20' foot height of a dome allows 3'6" of space between the top and the "8' open ring" at the apex.  That gives us space for a squat cylinder 8' across, 3'6" tall, in which any "appropriate technology can be fitted.  The design calls for this space to be "external" (if the area leaks it drains directly into the septic/city sewer) and the use of which will carefully be controlled.  Thermal solar, solar water, PC or wind systems are considered as "plug-in units" to reduce utility cost. 

So to recap:

* A standard sized dome that maximizes usable floor area on two levels.
* Standard internal forms for a quarter-circle, half-circle, three-quarter circle and full circle give "plug and play" functionality for budget-conscious Domers
   (A Domer is a doomer who's taken one of the O's out of the name and lives inside it).
* Ability to integrate sustainble technology directly into the infrastructure.

Well, that's what I've been working on since my return.  We're talking with a potential investor who may be interested in putting up 25 of the rental quad-plexes this year.  I have also commissioned a 3D virtual model to be constructed so we can have "fly-though video" of the designs to show potential customers, and work has begun on the commercial website for selling domes.   

Energy / GoSol - small scale thermal solar
« on: April 22, 2014, 10:50:06 AM »
Dmitry has allowed these folks to guest post on his blog recently.  I like their designs and believe they are producing technology/ideas that can be incorporated into our model quite well.

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