Survive The Earthquakes In This Timber Passive House

The recent fracking boom has triggered earthquakes in places that have never before experienced a tremor. For the first time in recorded history, places like Ohio and Arkansas have experienced hundreds of earthquakes now linked to fracking wastewater injection wells. With the natural gas industry targeting communities around the country, preparing for a quake is something we might all need to think about.

It won’t clean up the air or water pollution left behind by fracking, but at least the Energy Box won’t crumble because a few tectonic plates decided to have a dance party. Designed and built by Italian architect Pierluigi Bonomo, the Energy Box is largely built from cross-laminated timber (CLT) and with the right engineering, is said to be earthquake resistant.

In 2009, a strong earthquake damaged or destroyed thousands of buildings in the Abruzzo region of Central Italy. Bonomo wanted to rebuild a brick house that suffered badly during the disaster, but just razing the old house and building a similar structure in its stead wasn’t good enough.

Instead, he chose to use CLT–a material made from a renewable resource that sequesters carbon for the life of the building–he resurrected the dwelling according to Passive House principles. Unlike the former brick masonry, CLT is able to absorb moderate earthquake tremors, making the Energy Box safer for both the inhabitants and the environment.

“Thermal protection in the winter is provided by larch planks on the exterior cladding, high levels of daylight filter through large slits in the south-side – increasing solar gain in the winter, sliding screens also allow ventilation through the building and solar protection in summer,” reports Designboom.

Effort was made to preserve as much of the original house as possible, according to the architect. Instead, the CLT design was constructed around the perimeter wall and other remnants of the brick dwelling, blurring”the transition between the material and semantic “heavy” and indelible memory and the aspiration to a better future, translated in the light of the “new” with safe technologies , efficient and low environmental impact,” writes Bonomo.

See more images of the Energy Box here.

Beth Buczynski is a freelancer writer and editor currently living in the Rocky Mountain West. Her articles appear on Care2, Ecosalon and Inhabitat, just to name a few. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog