There are many ways to approach green home design. Probably one of the cheapest and the most sustainable is to live in a dwelling provided by nature. Let’s get back in caves. Honestly, we are no better than the Neanderthal man – about the only difference is that we have learnt to use the internet 🙂
No really, I’m serious. Cave houses are popular in regions where there are many natural caves – Spain, Italy and Greece. Still many caves in these countries have been carved by humans hundreds of years ago. A cave house is not just rock walls with a mammoth skin hanging at the front. The exteriors are whitewashed, finished with wooden beams and an external build is added to make it all more appealing.
From the green living point of view cave houses are good because:
- The house is partly provided by nature. You don’t generate much pollution or CO2 in acquiring it.
- You have a potential to go off the grid. In some cases that is your only option because many cave houses are outside towns or villages. The suggested scheme is to install a solar panel, a small wind turbine and a diesel generator as a backup.
- Ethical and beautiful. Nature’s design at its best – you are not disrupting the landscape with silly concrete/glass structures.
- Soil and rock provides the best insulation qualities. You’ll be comfortable in the summer and warm in the winter (that is if you get any winter at all) and chance is you’ll be spending close to no money on energy bills.
- They are cheap. To buy a cave house in Spain (minimum specification) you need around €40,000. Less if you buy a derelict property and renovate. Larger and more sophisticated dwellings go for over €100,000.
One warning, though – before you buy a cave house, check for the earthquake record in that particular region. Spain generally shows less seismic activity. These natural homes suit people with a specific style. I understand, it is not for everyone, however, their popularity is on a rise so if you feel like going back into the caves, snap one now as the prices on affordable green buildings can only go up.
Pic by Peter Theill