Earth Shelter Technology
Boyer, Lester L. ,Grondzik, Walter T. Earth Shelter Technology College Station: Texas A & M University Press 1987
Date: December 15, 2003
David's Thoughts: Wow, this book is heady stuff. I muttled my way through portions of it. I beleive you need some engineering background to understand it all, but with patience, there proved to be countless pieces of information throughout the book. The folks that wrote this obviously spent a long time developing the information and charts here. As it was accurately described elsewhere...
"Earth Shelter Technology" reads more like a very long abstract than a technical reference itself. There are many (262) references for the 194 pages of text and figures. The book covers the basic ideas of earth sheltering pretty thoroughly, but unless you dig into the references, you're left with very little practical information that you'd need to design an earth-sheltered building.
I thought that I'd hit real meat with a formula for soil temperature as a function of depth underground and day of the year. Plug in mean temperature and annual temperature swing amplitude, and you're almost there. But this formula includes a constant for thermal diffusivity of the soil. Well, there's a table with thermal and other properties of various materials; BUT the authors left some blanks: the thermal properties for rock, heavy dry soil, or concrete -- precisely the materials of interest when constructing an earth-sheltered structure in dry areas -- are missing.
There are also many figures with axes labeled but not dimensioned; you can get a qualitative idea of how things relate, but nothing like a quantitative relationship.
The book is dated (copyright 1987); the references are of course even older, going back to 1949. The book reads as if written a decade earlier, though. The dated impression is partly due to the technology used in the book itself. There are no photographs; instead, there are hand-drawn ink illustrations that surely took quite a long time to produce, but lose much of the detail that a decent photograph would show (example: "Aerial view of the University of Minnesota Bookstore"). Also, the text refers to simulation programs for handheld calculators and for mainframes -- there's nary a mention of a PC.
There are very few alternative books on this subject, so I'd recommend it for a conceptual overview. But you won't find enough information here to design an earth-sheltered building. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title
Long on concepts; short on formulas
April 11, 2003
Reviewer: Henry Perkins (see more about me) from
Santa Clara, CA USA
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