Using Thermal Potential Of The Earth To Optimize Energy Consumption In Architectural Structures

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Architecture used to have its foundations on a thoughtful interaction with nature surrounding it. Utilizing the earth as an almost infinite source of energy with somehow stable temperature at certain depths is one of the manifestations of this interaction in creating comfort for humans and eluding severe climatic bottlenecks. The earth is the best thermal mass that could act as a reservoir for heat; thus, maximizing surfaces subject to earth’s thermal masses, its cooling capacity could be used in its maximum. Needless to say that earth could not be used as the only material to build walls and barriers, however, structures could benefit from thermal reservoir walls like brick, concrete etc. In fact, using earth’s topography and its form could be of a huge significance in designing contemporary structures. The concept of “Earth-Shelter Architecture” with its roots in traditional architecture is currently a solution for many of the challenges faced in several countries. However, this concept has not been investigated in developing countries; thus, the present paper intends to accumulate data, promote “earth-shelter architecture” and investigate methods to utilize thermal stability of the earth. In order to do so, after a brief glance at the background of this architecture and its pros and cons, a professional view is taken toward various aspects of thermal stability of the earth and the factors influencing the temperature on the surface and different depths of the earth are scrutinized. Finally, referring to some relevant cases, solutions are proposed to utilize the potentials of thermal stability of the earth to create thermal comfort.

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