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re: why not live underground?
1 feb 2006
viator wrote:

> this past summer, the news carried stories of people
> dying in the summer heat in phoenix arizona, especially
> people without homes or access to air conditioning.
> 
> this seemed awefully tragic, and all throughout this news coverage
> there was a lack of critical questioning let alone "out of the box"
> thinking, as usual with the us media. the most obvious question
> seemed to be, if the earth is about 50 degrees f underground, then
> why do phoenix residents not live underground to save energy
> and keep cool during the summer...

nrel says the deep ground temp in phoenix is 72.6 f, with w = 0.0061,
as a year-round average, so evaporative cooling (eg some green plants)
should work well, with a slow ceiling fan and a hole at the top to make
a cool air trap. but the local soil (caliche) is hard to dig.
dynamite could be fun.

> years ago i heard that in australia, the opal miners in the western
>part of that country all live underground, because the mines are located
>in a desert where it's terminally hot at the surface.
> 
> could the situation for most phoenix residents, who are notoriously
> dependent on air conditioning not be summarizable as simply "humans
> failing to adapt to the environment as usual"?
 
>  the opal miners you heard about, were in coober pedy - south 
>australia. more central than western, but a truely amazing place to 
>visit all the same. the reasoning is more to do with the fact that the 
>geology of the location makes tunneling *relatively* easy, and once 
>you've dug out a grid of tunnels looking for opal, well, why waste it? 
>join a few together, hollow out between them, and there you have it... 
>ready for wiring and plumbing, and uniquely easy to expand as the family 
>grows.
>
>"underground" is used in other places as well, where the tunneling 
>method is not practical. in one adelaide hills location, a narrow gorge 
>between two hills was flattened at the base, and had a stack of 
>specially cast room sized concrete culverts placed in it. doorways 
>between rooms were cast into the concrete before laying. the entire 
>front of the house (the open ends of the culverts) was glazed with 
>commercial alluminium shopfront windows and doors, and the whole 
>structure (with the exception of the front wall) was basically burried. 

sounds nice, with a north front wall.

>plenty of light and air, virtually zero heating and cooling costs, 
>virtual zero external maintenance costs, and virtual immunity fromthe 
>risks of fire, flood, or storm. that particular house was directly in 
>the path of the ash wednesday bushfires that destroyed the area in 1983. 
>while the fire was literally burning on the roof, and the residents ran 
>through the inside checking for any sparks that got around the windows 
>or doors, the only noticible effect of the fire on the house itself, was 
>that the ambient inside temperature rose by one or two degrees!

nick




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