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Letters to the editor

editor@vaildaily.com

Dome Q&AIn response to Mr. Sherwood Stockwell’s letter to the editor Aug. 25: He asked questions about domes. Thank you for being interested enough to ask questions.Question: Why is a dome energy efficient?Answer: An Airform, concrete, reinforcing steel, and polyurethane foam are the basic materials used in the construction of a monolithic dome. These materials and the way in which they work together give the monolithic dome its energy-efficiency, strength, and durability.A heat sink is any substance capable of storing large amounts of heat. Concrete, brick, water, adobe, and earth are heat sink materials commonly used in construction. The property of a heat sink to act as an insulation is called thermal diffusivity.In a monolithic dome, polyurethane foam (the dome’s insulation) covers the exterior of the concrete (the dome’s heat sink). This use of the polyurethane on the monolithic dome’s exterior approximately doubles in effective R-value. We have calculated effective R-values in excess of 60.Here’s a simple explanation for the way it works: As the temperature of the atmosphere cycles from cold to hot to cold to hot, a heat sink absorbs or gives up heat. But because the heat sink can absorb so much heat, it never catches up with the full range of the cycle. Therefore, the temperature of the heat sink tends to average. Large sinks, such as concrete monolithic domes, average over many days, weeks, or even months.Another example of this process is the adobe hacienda with its 2- to 6-foot-thick walls. By the time the adobe walls begin absorbing the daytime heat, it’s nighttime, so the heat escapes into the cooler night and the adobe’s temperature averages. Because the adobe’s mass is so large, its temperature averages over months, and the adobe acts as an insulation despite its minimal R factor.The point of all this is the monolithic dome needs less than half the heating and cooling equipment and less than half the monthly power bill of a conventional building – this is well-documented with numerous existing structures.Q: We say domes don’t have any bearing walls (interior). Why are they any better than any other type of structure that has clear spans?A: To cover large areas, most buildings need supporting posts or bearing walls. The monolithic dome does not. Conventional buildings can be built without posts, too. But as the size of the conventional, post-free structure increases, its construction costs also increase and at a much faster rate than those of a similar-size monolithic dome.Q: “Insurance is much less expensive.” Do they mean less expensive than any other type of structure made out of similar materials?A: In general, concrete structures cost less to insure. A monolithic dome can receive a type IIFR rating, which designates it as virtually fire-proof. In addition, monolithic domes are disaster resistant. They conform to FEMA’s guidelines for a structure that provides “near-absolute protection.”Q: “Interior decorators can also be more innovative.” Won’t they have to be, because no matter how you square a circle you still end up with curved outside walls and some odd-angled segments if you divide the space. Do decorators find it easy to furnish such spaces with conventional pieces?A: Monolithic domes are usually furnished with conventional furniture, cabinets, appliances, etc. The dome’s clear span leaves its interior design and decor limited only by imagination.Q: Is their monolithic dome a proprietary design that only they provide? If so, does that eliminate competitive bidding?A: Monolithic dome builders are available throughout the country, and many are listed on our Web site. David B. South, president of the Monolithic Dome Institute, together with Barry South and Randy South, owners of Dome Technology Inc., co-invented the monolithic dome. The first one was built in 1975. But the monolithic dome shell is only a portion of a project, so all of the pieces can be bid, even the concrete used in construction. As with any major project, the town of Vail can expect multiple bids from multiple builders.Q: How does the dome handle snow loads, snowslides, and melt dripping all around its perimeter?A: Snow loads and slides are a non-issue. Think about an igloo – how long have they existed? A dome made of just snow! The pressure produced by a snow load will never meet the pounds-per-square-foot pressure of a tornado. monolithic domes are engineered and have been proven to withstand tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, and other natural disasters. The highest ever recorded wind speed of a tornado is about 300 miles per hour. monolithic domes have a safety factor of approximately four times that. A monolithic dome can stand being buried underground with 2,000 pounds per square foot of pressure. Snow deep enough to equal that would probably take years to build up, and only in the Arctic or Antarctic.Numerous monolithic domes have been built and are being used in cold climates, some as far as the Arctic Circle. They make ideal structures in that environment. No need to shovel any snow off the roof. And because of their energy efficiency, snow that does cling to the dome’s roof melts last.To handle melting or dripping, gutters can be installed, as they would be on any building.Q: “People have to get used to a dome.” Why, if there is one in every state capitol?A: If there is only one in every state capitol, that is just 50 domes and millions of other buildings. Perhaps a better way of saying “people have to get used to a dome” would be to say, “People need to be educated about monolithic domes.”We appreciate your reference to the Pantheon and its durability. We have a beautiful rendering of it in the reception area of our office and have discussed its attributes in articles on our Web site.To learn more, please visit http://www.monolithic.com. It contains many editorials, research papers, technical and human interest articles, and photos. For more information locally and/or free reports on monolithic domes, please call (970) 470-2870.Again, we sincerely thank you for your interest. We appreciate opportunities to provide information by answering specific queries. Also, thanks to Freda Parker, who wrote 99% of these answers to Mr. Stockwell’s questions. I just added a little bit here and there.Murray V. Heminger Jr.Kids came throughWe at the Vail Recreation District Youth Services recently helped with the Rotary Rubber Duck Race. We needed many youth volunteers to staff our youth activity tent and to herd ducks during the race. We were overwhelmed with youth who wanted to sacrifice their time to help out!Thanks to all the youth that volunteered! Brigitta Gehl, Charlie Grant, AJ Yanke, Kayla Cheatham, Holly Domke, Alena Tosunovic, Amalia Vasquez, Cooper Cartmill, Katherine Conlin, Talli Hitt, Emily Simmons, Madeline Trtanj, Elsie Macsata, Heidi Sorensen, Stephen Licciardi, Taylor Campbell, Spencer Currie, Morgan Currie, Miles Gordon, Kenzie Grant, Adi Slifer, Anna Sloan, Christiana White, Meredith White, Sydney Miller, Lucas Brown, Loren Anderson, Connor Thompson, Kelly Heckman, Steve Carnes, Kylie Gilbert, David Gray, Miriah Jones, Bergen Tjossem.Diane JohnsonChad YoungYouth ServicesVail Recreation District


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