Bermed Homes

Courtesy Ron Nyberg

Courtesy Ron Nyberg

Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs) are one of the most sustainable and efficient materials from which to build a home or business. The insulation that the EPS exterior and concrete interior affords your home, make it up to 50% more energy efficient than conventional constructions. Just when you thought that ICF technology could not get any more efficient, enter the bermed ICF home. Bermed or earth-sheltered homes are partially buried beneath 4 feet or more of earth. The temperatures below the frost line are a cosy 13 to 14 degrees Celsius which cools the home in the summer, and keeps it snug and warm in the winter. You don’t have to be a hobbit to live in a bermed home, but you can benefit from the HVAC savings, have a safer and sturdier home and you will never have to clean out the gutters again.

Bermed benefits

  • Huge (yes huge) savings on utilities make this option an attractive return on investment. With a bermed structure, you can add to the already impressive insulation the ICFs offer for a massive 80% savings on your utility bills. Reduced build times and insurance costs add to the coffers and help to make these projects more affordable. Most governments offer incentives for energy efficient designs which will help to improve your ROI.
  • Earth-sheltered buildings enable you to use the land in more ways than one, making it suitable for areas where land is in short supply. For example, the grassed area on top of the house can be utilized as a garden, park, sports facility or parking lot.
  • Protection from the elements. As extremely adverse weather becomes more commonplace, the earth-sheltered home provides a safe haven from rain, wind, fire and water. This reduces your home insurance premiums and gives you peace of mind.
  • Reduced noise pollution means that these structures can be build on land that is near transportation systems, industrial sites or other areas that would otherwise be unsuitable for habitation.
  • Urban farming; grow your fruit and veggies on your roof and be a true locavore.
  • Constant negative ionization occurs over four feet underground and this reduces hypertension and hyperactivity. If properly ventilated, the insulation admits less outdoor pollutants and your air quality is improved. This reduces allergies and respiratory irritants caused by volatile organic compounds, mould, dust and pollution. It also means less dusting for you.

Inhabitants of bermed structures do not need to take on the characteristics of subterranean rodents; bermed houses are neither dark nor damp. Slylights integrated into the roof structure can allow natural light into the home throughout the day, as opposed to windows which only allow light in when the sun is on that side of the house. Pipes in your bermed home are below the frost line and will not freeze in the winter.

Of course you could make your bermed home from a number of different materials, even straw bales, but with the insulation, moisture control, strength, longevity and ease of construction that ICFs offer, why would you want to?

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