Living Center Oregon

Sustainable Living Center Oregon

Grow all Year Long with no Extra Heat Source

The Go & Grow House© will be using five key elements necessary for a productive passive greenhouse: solar input; heat storage; and conservation.



An example of how a 12 X 16 Go & Grow House will look when completed.

Collecting, converting, and storing is accomplished through the use of:

  1. Orientation
  2. Double Wall Glazing
  3. Thermal Water Heat Storage
  4. Super Insulation
  5. Venting


The Go & Grow House is designed to uses these features to be a off-the-grid self-contained passive solar greenhouse that would only need, soil, sun and water to grow plants,



The Grow House takes advantage of the changing angles of the sun throughout the seasons.

The coldest months (winter) the sun heating is increased.  The Winter Sun travels in the southern portion of the sky, rising in the east and setting in the west. Therefore, it is important to face the Go & Grow House’s big windows as close to true south as possible.  The path of the winter sun will always be lower in the sky with a shorter path than the summer sun. The winter season has the least sun, so we want to make the most of it.

The tilt should be designed so that the windows point directly at the sun at noon. To calculate, we multiply our latitude of Lincoln City, Oregon 42 degrees by 0.9, and add 30 degrees. (42 X .9 + 30 ) = 67.5 degrees tilt from horizontal.

The hottest months (summer) the sun heating is reduced.

The design acts as a thermostat. It produces heat in the winter during clear days.  When the seasonal temperatures warm, the structure reduces the solar heating input.

North – East – West Wall built of Air-Crete

The walls will be built with Air-Crete.  Air-Crete is a lightweight material that contains stable air cells uniformly distributed throughout the mixture. It is a block of concrete which utilizes a stable air cell rather than traditional aggregate.

South Wall Top Glazing

Solexx will be used on the top of the South wall. By using Solexx glazing, with an R 2.1 rating.  It is intended by using the Solexx, Thermal Heat Storage and Pebble Rocket Mass Heater it will eliminate the need for heaters, fuel tanks, and fuel.

South Wall Bottom Glazing

Glass dual panel windows are used on the bottom half of the south wall because glass allows in more light.

When you use glazing like Solexx, polycarbonate, plastic greenhouse film or fiberglass it diffused light. We will not use glass on the top of the south wall or roof because during summer the sun would be coming straight down through there.  But if you do not diffuse and scatter the light it will get too much heat in the greenhouse.  Diffuse light means there are no shadows and will penetrate to the back wall.

Thermal Mass Heat Storage

Water is four times more efficient than earth or any other thermal mass.  Using water is a perfectly available item and it is actually quite sustainable because you only fill the water containers once for the life of that container.”

It is recommended using 2 to 5 gallons of water per-square-foot of glazing, typically stored in milk jugs or 55-gallon plastic black barrels.  If you want it to run cool in the winter and warm in summer – meaning grow some tomatoes in the summer and grow all some greens and broccoli and all that good stuff that we love in winter – then 2 gallons is enough. But if you want to stabilize the heat and cold, then go 5-plus gallons per-square-foot of glazing.

To stabilize, the glazing of the Go and Grow House is 10 ft X 10 ft or 100 square feet and needs 500 gallons.

Wall of Water


It is anticipated that there would be 164 gallons of water stored in 164 milk jugs lining the north, east, and west walls.

Disposable jugs are spray painted flat black and filled with water.  When placed in the Go and Grow House on a series of bookshelves.

According to authors: David Whiting (CSU Extension, retired), with Carol O’Meara (CSU Extension, Boulder County), and Carl Wilson (CSU Extension, retired)with enough milk jugs it has known to raise the nighttime temperatures to 39°F with no supplemental heat when outside temperatures dropped to -17°F. Night curtains may add an additional 30 to 50% energy conservation.


Black Barrels

There would be five (5) 55 gallons’ black barrels (275 gallons) set behind the south window wall, for a total of 539 gallons of terminal water heat storage.

Roof Insulation – The roof that does not collect heat are fitted with rigid insulation to prevent the heat loss.  They are fitted with 3 ½” of rigid insulation with an R rating of 21.

Venting – The top windows are designed to vent hot air on hot sunny days with automatic window openers.  Humidity levels are kept low to prevent plant disease.  Natural convection works when there are low windows and high windows are in equal size  The lowest vents are as low as possible, the high vents are as high as possible. They should be sized to from 15 to 20 percent of floor space. When those vents are open, you want air moving freely throughout the greenhouse. Use common sense to picture how that air is going to flow to make sure all the areas of the greenhouse are getting ventilated.

For vent openers, we will use passive openers like Univent that use paraffin-filled cylinders. As the temperature changes, the paraffin expands and contracts, opening and closing the vents.

Moisture – Moisture and mold in the walls is a problem in Oregon.  Therefore all the walls are built to have air space on both sides of the wall.  The outside of the walls must have a cavity between the outside surfaces to keep the rain away from the insulation.

The “Go” factor – Manual Composting Toilet


The second feature of the Go & Grow House© is a toilet option called the Earth Auger©.

The Earth Auger was designed based on work by a retired professor at the University of Washington and is being funded by a Gates Foundation Grant.

This is a pedal-operated dry toilet. Urine is diverted and stored.  The feces is also stored.

The main innovation with the toilet is the mechanized, foot-pedal-actuated dry-flush system and sawdust delivery system that uses no water.

When the pedal is operated, the feces, paper, and sawdust are mechanically processed through a big pipe with an auger inside, which mixes, aerates and moves them through a chamber for storage.

For more details

Human Waste

Pathogens, which are the disease-causing organisms, gradually die off during the period of time the feces stay in the Earth Auger’s storage pipe.

Health organizations suggest about 4 months in warm climates, and possibly 6 months in temperate climates.   Storage of faeces is detained in storage for 1-6 months. The time is dependent upon number of uses.  The storage container will store 120 uses.   Direct handling of excreta by the user is not required as the whole process is pedal-operated until harvest.

At that time of harvest, the material is totally dry. This material can be used on nonfood producing soils.

Urine is high in Nitrogen and is sterile when it exits the body.

The separated urine can be used on food-producing soil when mixed with 1:10 with water.

A study conducted by the Stockholm Water Company diverted urine from four housing projects to a grain farmer outside the city. The scientists concluded not only that urine could replace quick-acting mineral fertilizers, but also calculated that one adult’s urine provided enough plant nutrients to grow 50 to 100 percent of a person’s food requirements.

Present Status of Project

The floor of the house has been laid and the walls are starting to being built. The fixed floor is 12 feet by 8 feet.   The South wall is built to fold up, so it can be transported on a trailer down the highways.  It is 4 feet by 12 feet long.  When the South wall is folded out the Go and Grow House© will be 12 feet X 12 feet.   The metal tubing for the Solexx is installed after the South wall is folded out

The Earth Auger© has been fitted and ready to be installed.


Volunteers are welcome

  • Sustainable Living Center of Oregon
  • 82 Siletz Highway,  Lincoln City, OR 97367
  • 541=765-2109

For more information email:





4 comments on “Grow all Year Long with no Extra Heat Source

  1. Pingback: Air Crete | Living Center Oregon

  2. Jennifer D Reeves
    December 18, 2017

    did it get finished? Is there an update? Thanks!!

  3. Nancy Howland Walker
    July 7, 2018

    My husband and I are thinking about building an aircrete dome home. Did you ever get this finished, and from what you have learned, do you think a home (in Michigan) is feasible?

  4. We do not believe it is possible with Air Crete, but we are still trying

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This entry was posted on January 3, 2016 by .