Yurts: The Environmentally-Friendly Dwellings

By July 13, 2016Uncategorized

Yurts: The Environmentally-Friendly Dwellings
Between global warming, rapid declines in the health of reefs, and the increasingly unmanageable non-recyclable waste, it is clear that the globe must work together in order to find environmentally friendly ways to correct the negative impact humanity has mad on the planet. The beginning of a cultural shift towards eco-friendly lifestyles such made information on the benefits of green energy and buying local available for many to see, however more often than not, the most common factor that links most of the US and western civilization is the structures we call home.

The Environmental Impact of a Conventional Dwelling

The western concept of square dwellings as permanent structures has been adopted by the majority of Europe, the US, and Canada for their vast amount of floor space, the ability to store loads of household goods, and the ability to remain as a long standing structure. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why conventional homes are detrimental to the environment. The housing industry is considered one of the last markets to join the movement towards an eco-friendly planet, and due to the popularity, convenience, and social acceptance of the conventional home, these structures have already made an irreparable impressions against an eco-friendly planet.
Conventional homes are harmful to the environment for many reasons, but the most notable factor is the fact that many conventional homes use a wildly unsustainable amount building materials (I.e. wood, stone, tile, glass, and metal) among other precious resources (such as water and fuel) in order to build a dwelling for a single family unit. Because a majority of the building materials used in conventional construction industry are not responsibly farmed, the western housing market has personally taken a chunk out of the world’s rapidly depleting rain forests. Additionally, the large scale conventional home (once built) requires at least three times the amount of natural resources than an alternative living structure to accommodate the same number of residents. Even energy experts have recently stated that a home’s shape is the single most important factor in determining how energy efficient the space will be.
Another reason conventional houses are proving more and more detrimental to the environment is the fact that most sit on a immovable concrete slab foundation. From a structural standpoint, an immovable foundation would seem to be the most appropriate solution when building a home around natural factors such as water runoff and occasional geological shifts. However, studies have shown that the placement of concrete slabs permanently reduce the integrity of the land beneath it. Concrete is a durable substance used for it’s ability to resist corrosion and damage even under severe circumstances, and has been a trusted building commodity for the industrial and residential industries for years; unfortunately, the longevity of concrete means anytime a house is rendered unlivable or abandoned, the foundation cannot be reused or removed from the land to allow opportunity for the natural eco-system to reclaim it’s property. Permanently hindering a piece of land seems insignificant when reviewed on a small scale, however when all homes with concrete slabs are counted and taken into account the impact on the original landscape is terrible.
The final reason modern day homes are not environmentally friendly is the lifestyle they promote. The structure, floor plan, and initial intention of a conventional home is geared towards a mindset of “bigger is better,” which ties very closely to the materialistic mantra, “more,more,more.” Unfortunately, conventional homes have become the glorification of having more space and more possessions to fill it. In the design alone, a square home requires at least 10% more wall material than that of a circular home to cover the same exact amount of floor space. Square shaped homes also promote “dead” space, because corners are usually not used for anything other than storage, while the immense size of conventional homes (roughly 1500 to 2000 square feet) also promotes the need to “fill” that space with electronics, textiles, and furniture.

An Eco-Friendly Solution from the Past: The Yurt

Yurts have been a trusted residential structure throughout Asia for hundreds of years, and can be traced back to successful populations throughout history, such as the Mongols, who used yurts as their choice housing structure. The recent social shift towards living an eco-friendly has brought the yurt back into the spotlight of the western housing and building associations for their minimalistic properties. Originally designed for it’s ability to withstand harsh weather conditions by using the least amount of materials possible, the yurt remains an easy and affordable structure to build because it requires only a fraction of the material a conventional home would call for.
Instead of truck loads of drywall, concrete, shingles, and loads of wood, Yurts are built of dainty latticed wood walls, a wood poles for the roof, a contemporary wood floor, and an exterior weatherproof fabric. The simplicity of the yurts framework not only reduces the amount of raw materials used to build a home, but also drastically reduces the amount of natural resources and labor required to erect the structure.
Yurts are also able to pacify the issue of a permanent foundation readily used on a majority of builder grade homes. Because the actual structure of a yurt is designed to sit on top of an elevated platform, the amount of damage done to the land the dwelling sits on is extremely minimal. This fact means that homes can be set and easily moved at a later date should the homeowner become unable to maintain their property, and presents the opportunity of long term portable sustainable housing.
The third but most noteworthy reason yurts are an excellent solution to the modern day housing crisis is because the yurt design is built around a minimalistic view of “less is more,” a common theme anyone will find upon stepping into a yurt. Aside from the shockingly less building materials that would be required to build a yurt, the circular shape of these structures promote proper circulation of light, air, heat, and sound, which in turn promotes a more energy efficient space. As mentioned earlier, the shape of a structure is the key factor in determining just how energy efficient it will be. Overall, yurts have been proven to optimize the usage of floor space, lessen the building’s impact on the environment, enhance homeowner savings, and promote a green future.

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About Ohana Yurts

Ohana Yurts was founded on the dream of building an eco-village for the Positive Energetics Foundation on Oahu’s North Shore. At the time, there were no Hawai’i based yurt manufacturers to purchase from, forcing Positive Energetics to source yurts off of the mainland.