[Ok-sus] The sustainability community and the recent tornado disaster

UNSCHOOLER@LREC.ORG unschooler at lrec.org
Tue Jun 4 07:05:44 UTC 2013

I think it is safe to say that nothing is going to withstand a direct hit from an F5 tornado other than possibly (probably) an underground home.  When they can rip ancient trees up by the roots and clear entire houses from their foundations, nothing above ground is completely safe.  Underground or earth-bermed homes make sense in Oklahoma for so many reasons--shelter from the extreme heat of the summer and buffered from the winter winds and cold temperatures in the winter.  South-facing to take advantage of winter solar gain, of course.   You can build a home like this from re-used/re-purposed materials ala the Earthship (or similar) and finish it out with natural finishes.  If I were building a new house in Oklahoma it is what I would build--without a doubt.  Having said that, cob is more monolithic than some other materials.  Rock houses may be stronger, too, but it depends upon many factors, including the type of rock, the mortar mix, the building method and the skill of the mason.  There are few true "rock houses" built anymore...most are just stick frame houses clad in rock.  (And they still need to be insulated, requiring some sort of secondary wall.)

There is, however, another school of thought that says if you build out of earthen materials, then when the house is eventually destroyed (by tornado, by time, but future inhabitants--and ALL houses are eventually destroyed), there is less or no "trash" to go into the landfill.  It can all be recycled back into another home or returned to the earth.  That is the school of thought that encourages us not to be too attached to our things--including our homes--and acknowledges that we are ALL temporary inhabitants on this earth.  That we are indeed powerless.  Just throwing that out there for the sake of discussion.


On Jun 2, 2013, at 11:01 AM, Shelley Smith wrote:

> Any thoughts on how a straw bale home would fare in a tornado? Is there anything (outside of underground) that could survive an F-5? Maybe a rock house? I see a few old ones in Edmond and they sure look solid...
> I'm planning to build a new house in a couple of years so I have been following this discussion with great interest.
> Shelley
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