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The following information covers the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star Program
with a South Carolina Ai dome earning the EPA’s Energy Star.

Please click on arrows to view the photos.

Above is photo gallery of Kolb’s 40′ dome home linked to 27′ two car garage dome
which earned EPA’s Energy Star

The Energy Star label can only be placed on completed houses. The label cannot go on a Building Kit. Some of American Ingenuity’s clients have had their completed dome homes rated and received the Energy Star label. To find out how your dome home can receive an Energy Star Label, call the EPA Energy Star hot line 1-888-782-7937 and ask for a company in your area that can rate your home.

Klaus Kolb’s South Carolina Ai concrete dome house earned EPA’s Energy Star.  Home Energy Partners certified his home used 61% less energy than in comparably-size housing.   He installed a geothermal cooling & heating system. To view pictures & info about his geothermal system, click on System.  Klaus’s total monthly average energy bill was $49. This includes the electricity and propane costs for his entire 1,600 sq.ft. – 40 ft. dome.

Jim Collar’s Utah Ai concrete dome buildings operate off the grid by using photovoltaic’s, masonry heater fireplace and passive solar water tubes. To learn more, click on  Off The Grid.

To view a  fantastic YouTube Video of American Ingenuity 48′ dome with 34′ garage in Albuquerque, New Mexico, click on Gorgeous Dome.  To view Ai’s Energy FAQ’s, click on Efficient Ai Dome.

What does the Energy Star label signify?

Products bearing the ENERGY STAR labels are more energy efficient than standard products, thereby saving energy and money. In general, ENERGY STAR qualified products including: appliances, HVAC equipment, office equipment, residential lighting, and even homes, reduce energy costs by at least 30%.

What is Energy Star?

ENERGY STAR is a government program that offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions, making it easy to save money while protecting the environment for future generations.

Energy efficient choices can save families about a third on their energy bill with similar savings of greenhouse gas emissions, without sacrificing features, style or comfort. ENERGY STAR helps you make the energy efficient choice.

If looking for new household products, look for ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR. They meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and US Department of Energy.

EPA’s ENERGY STAR partnership for businesses offers a proven energy management strategy that helps in measuring current energy performance, setting goals, tracking savings, and rewarding improvements. EPA provides an innovative energy performance rating system which businesses have already used for more than 26,000 buildings across the country. EPA also recognizes top performing buildings with the Energy Star.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® Program promotes the use of high-efficiency technologies and equipment. ENERGY STAR labeled homes use at least 30% less energy than homes built to meet the national Model Energy Code while maintaining or improving indoor air quality.

Many ENERGY STAR qualified new homes feature tighter construction than that of homes built to the Model Energy Code. Tighter house construction can improve the energy efficiency, air quality, and comfort of your home by eliminating unwanted drafts.

Environmental Protection – the following info came from their site.

Did you know that your home can be a greater source of pollution than your car? In fact, 16 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are generated from the energy used in houses nationwide.

Energy used in our homes often comes from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, which contributes to smog, acid rain, and global warming. Simply put, the less energy we use in our homes, the less air pollution we generate.

Tighter home construction can offer you:

  • Improved comfort – reduces drafts, noise, and moisture.
  • Improved indoor air quality – keeps dust, pollen, car exhaust, and insects out of the home.
  • Lower costs – reduces escape of conditioned air.

Unfortunately, there are hundreds of penetrations through a typical home’s exterior (The Ai dome’s tight envelope does not have hundreds of penetrations.  The Ai dome was involved in a US Department of Energy Study on energy efficient housing. The blower door test showed the Aidome to be 56% tighter than the conventional test structure and 29% tighter than the Dow house.) These gaps and holes are often incurred during framing, and from penetrations for wiring, plumbing, and ducts. Air sealing the house’s envelope combined with proper ventilation, can reduce your energy bills and eliminate unwanted drafts and pollutants.

Reduced air infiltration combined with proper ventilation can not only reduces your energy bills but it can also improve the quality of your indoor air. Outdoor air that leaks indoor makes it difficult to maintain comfort and energy efficiency. In addition, air leakage accounts for 25-40% of the energy used for heating and cooling in a typical home.

Today, off-the-shelf technologies such as house wraps, sealants, foams, and tapes reduce air infiltration. In energy-efficient homes, builders use these tools to seal the myriad of cracks and gaps in framing along with hundreds of holes for plumbing, mechanical equipment, and electrical wiring.

These fact sheets are designed to help consumers learn more about the energy efficient improvements to their ENERGY STAR labeled homes. These fact sheets cover:

  1. Air Sealing
  2. Value-Engineered Framing
  3. Balanced Ventilation Systems
  4. Exhaust Ventilation Systems
  5. Supply Ventilation Systems

The following information came from The EPA’s web site http://energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=new_homes.nh_benefits

Benefits of Energy Star Qualified New Homes

Peace of Mind
Home buying is complex enough without having to know all the details of energy-efficient construction. Instead, look for the

government-backed ENERGY STAR label to easily identify homes that are truly energy efficient. Find the house of your dreams and enjoy peace of mind knowing that it also meets strict energy efficiency guidelines.

Lower Ownership Cost
Compared with standard homes, ENERGY STAR qualified homes use substantially less energy for heating, cooling, and water heating-delivering $200 to $400 in annual savings. Over the average 7 to 8 years you may live in your home, this adds up to thousands of dollars saved on utility bills. Additional savings on maintenance can also be substantial.

Better Performance
Properly installed energy-efficient improvements deliver better protection against cold, heat, drafts, moisture, pollution, and noise. An energy-efficient home helps ensure consistent temperatures between and across rooms, improved indoor air quality, and greater durability.

Environmental Protection
Did you know that your home can be a greater source of pollution than your car? In fact, 16 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are generated from the energy used in houses nationwide.

Energy used in our homes often comes from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, which contributes to smog, acid rain, and global warming. Simply put, the less energy we use in our homes, the less air pollution we generate.

The following article covers Strength & Inside Edition FAQ.

Exterior garage pineapple

Above is the 22′ dome linked to 34′ dome that were under construction when Inside Edition Visited

These Domes Went Through Hurricane Jeanne and Frances with no damage.

While the roof was blown off the house across the street

 

Q: When the reporter from Inside Edition visited, what dome advantage did they zero in on?

A: The theme of the segment revolved around the super strength of American Ingenuity’s prefab concrete domes and how the Ai domes withstand hurricane forces. The reporter and two man camera crew first went to Miami, Florida and interviewed the owners of an American Ingenuity dome that survived a direct hit from hurricane Andrew. Views of the Menendezes’ beautiful interior were shown but the inspiring stories of the horse trailer and tornado slamming the dome got edited.  To view the Inside Edition video, view Inside Edition. Once you are on the page, scroll down and click on the second video which is the Inside Edition video.

They then drove up to our corporate offices. The segment went on to show our five dome complex including the  component panels being made in the factory.

The next stop was to view our domes under construction in Melbourne, Florida, a 34′ dome linked to a 22′ garage. Also of interest was the interior metal framing and metal floor joists.

The program director had previously asked us for a way to illustrate the domes’ ability to withstand hurricane force winds. Short of calling up a 200 mph wind and filming the real thing, the next best option is a computer finite analysis. The computer simulated a force equal to 230 mph winds. Our dome stood rock solid. In fact, to see the movement in the dome, the deflection had to be magnified 50 times. A square structure was also modeled but it collapsed with 150 mph winds.

A completed dome home was the next stop. After videoing the house and the dog dome, the reporter, Stephen Gendel, asked for an egg. While on screen he took his best shot at squeezing it to death. They departed shortly thereafter knowing that they had a good story and I can tell you with certainty, they were impressed.

About a week after the program aired we got a call from the New York office. They specifically called to tell us that they had received a flood of calls from people trying to get in touch with us. For viewers to call us directly they had to figure out the city and area code on their own. One lady reported that the long distance information operator knew our number by heart.

Q: Does American Ingenuity have an engineering statement about your dome panels that can be submitted to my building department?

A:  Yes, to view the statement click on Engineering.

Q: What wind loads will the dome withstand?
A:
Because the structure of our dome is steel reinforced concrete it is incredibly strong and easily enhanced to accommodate unusual requirements. The standard design will accommodate up to 225 mph. winds and category 4 tornadoes.  To view information summarizing Ai dome and hurricanes, view Hurricane Recap.

Two of American Ingenuity’s domes in Hawaii went through a 6.6 earthquake in 2006 and suffered no structural damage. To learn more about the earthquake, view ABC News Link and on MSNBC News Link.

The Ai dome design has proved itself by withstanding Hurricane Andrew’s 165 – 200 mph winds, a tornado that rolled up a steel horse trailer and slammed it against the Menendez dome, four hurricanes in 2004, 6.6 earthquake in 2006, sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of the Northwest Territory of Canada, a 30″ in diameter 115 foot tall hickory tree impact, a lighting strike and many other conditions since 1976.

More about steel horse trailer impact: American Ingenuity warranties their concrete domes against 225 mph winds and F4 tornadoes. Since our dome kit manufacturing business started, Ai has sold 800 kits into 47 states and thirteen foreign areas. Since then Ai has not had any of our clients domes have any damage due to hurricanes or tornadoes except for one dome during Hurricane Andrew. During Andrew a tornado slammed a two wide metal horse trailer against  a 45’ American Ingenuity Dome.  A riser wall of the dome ended up with a hairline crack and a missing chunk of concrete. The dome owner caulked the crack and mixed up fiber concrete and filled area where the concrete was broken and painted over the area.

More about the tree impact: There was no damage to the Brack’s 48′ dome after winds in excess of 75 mph hit North Carolina in July of 1996. The real test came when a 115′ high, 30″ in diameter hickory tree was blown over and fell on their dome. The impact broke a 10″ diameter branch. The tree slid off and landed on a deck post driving it and it’s 16″ square concrete footer 6″ further into the ground. The insurance agent who inspected the damage to the deck conveyed his amazement about the dome’s strength with this comment, “If that had been a frame house the tree would have ended up in the basement!”

More about the lightning strike: American Ingenuity’s 45′ office dome withstood another one of nature’s most powerful forces, a LIGHTNING STRIKE. The lightning hit the outer edge of an entryway and the only damage it did to the dome was to knock off a handful of concrete at the point of impact! A couple of our computers have not been the same since, but the cost to repair the dome did not exceed $30 in materials and labor.

More about heavy snow loads: In 1995 Howard and Mary Carroll visited Robens and Tom Napolitan’s dome.  Robens was enthusiastic, but Tom was not. Tom explained to the Carroll’s, “its all HER idea, I didn’t want a dome.” Mary Carroll phoned the Napolitans in 1996.  Mrs. Carroll said you couldn’t keep Tom quiet this time.  He had nothing but wonderful things to say about the dome and had completely turned around about the wonders of living in an American Ingenuity dome…..ROOFS HAD COLLAPSED in their area under several feet of snow, but NOT HIS DOME! Tom’s turnaround sold Mary and her husband on an Ai dome.

Q: Have you performed a load test on your panel?  To view the load test file, view Load Test.
A:
Yes, in October 2000 Ai performed a load test on one of its 48′ dome building kit’s component panels. The test was performed on our largest house panel using the standard 7″ thick E.P.S. insulation, 3/4″ thick concrete exterior reinforced with steel mesh and fiber reinforced plaster on the interior. The strength of the component panel can be best be determined by measuring the deflection of the panel as a load (weight) is applied in increments. The panel was placed horizontally. Its weight and the weight of everything placed on it was only supported along the outer edge of the panel. The loading of the panel was done by adding sand in 470 lb. increments. Plywood sides were attached to the panel edges so the sand could be spread evenly, providing a uniform load.

The deflection was measured in the center and six other locations. At all the measured points a steel ruler was attached to the panel extending high enough to be visible when the panel was fully loaded with the sand. A surveyor’s transit allowed us to measure the deflection.

After 3,783 lbs. of sand was dumped on the panel its center had deflected less than 1/16 inch. Three days later the deflections had only increased to 3/32 inch. Our own amazement at the strength made us even more brave; so we cut through the interior plaster on the bottom of the panel. Even then the deflection was less than 3/16 inch.

We had not expected this exceptional strength. We could not mound the sand any higher so we set a pallet of 40 cement bags on top of the sand thinking, “This could do the panel in.” That doubled the weight on the panel and the center deflection increased to less than 3/8 inch. The grand total deflection of less than 3/8 inch with almost four tons of weight was astonishing to us.

A 120-mph wind will exert a pressure of 30 lbs. per sq.ft. on a vertical wall and a snow load exceeding 50 lbs. per sq.ft. is rare. Our panel withstood 170 lbs. per sq.ft.

Q: The prefabricated panel concrete is not that thick, why is American Ingenuity’s dome so strong?
A:
The panel concrete does not need to be thick because the strength comes from the triangle shape and the steel reinforced concreted seams which are about 5″ wide and 3″ deep averaging two thick concrete. Engineers tell us the seams act like steel beams and transfer any stress all over the dome instead of containing the stress in one spot.

Pouring the Foundation

Basic Layout

Heating Wood Solar Confirmation

Joist Layout

Plumbing

Radiant

Utility Layout

Williams Monthly

 

Radiant Floor Order
Solar Tube Order
  • 2 – 7/8″ XL PEX 200ft coil
  • 4 – 7/8″ XL PEX 400ft coil
  • 150 – Heat Distr Fins 8×16″ aluminum sheets
  • 1 – Plate Forming Tool
  • 1 – 500 sq/ft roll aluminum reflective material
  • 1 – 4 loop manifold with supply side ball valves
  • 4 – Adaptor 3/4″ copper to 7/8″ XL PEX tubing
  • 2 – Coupling 7/8″ XL PEX to 7/8″ XL PEX coupling
  • 8 – Nylon Ties 100pk
  • 1 – Two Zone Control Kit SP-82 Relay and 2 thermostats
  • 1 – Low Volume Stainless Pump
  • 1 – Medium-high Volume Stainless Pump
  • 1 – 1″ Check Valve
  • 1 – Two Zone Manifold for stainless pumps
  • 1 – Seido 5-16 16 Tube Convex Absorber
  • 1 – Roof Mounting Kit
  • 1 – Gold Line GL-30 TD-GL & 2 temp sensors
  • 1 – 3/4″ Solar heat exchanger – stainless pump w/flanges – 2 3/4″ ball valves, 4 3/4″ female adapters
  • 1 – Solar EPK 3/4″ expansion & purge kit
  • 1 – 1″ mixing valve high volume

Williams Area

  • Nov Dec Jan Feb – Coldest Months – Wood Boiler
  • Jul Aug – Hottest Months – Solar Tubes
  • Mar Apr May June Sept Oct – Moderate Months – Solar Tube

Images of Parts Inventory

Links

 American Ingenuity’s component panels for the 15′ – 48′ domes contains seven inch thick rigid Expanded Polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation which has an R value of 28.  The seven inch thick insulation is comparable to eleven inch thick fiberglass batting. There is no wood in the American Ingenuity Dome shell to interrupt the insulation or to rot or to be eaten by termites or to burn. However, a temporary wooden rib system is utilized to support the panels during the dome assembly until all the seams between the panels and the entryways and dormers are concreted and then the system comes down.  The dome is self supporting. The exterior is steel reinforced concrete that is primed and painted.  Your locally purchased doors and windows are installed in pressure treated wood framed wall under the entryway and dormer panels.

1. What’s the benefit of insulating my home?

  • Insulation can help reduce the cost of your heating and cooling bills by preventing the flow of heat into your house in the summer time and reducing the flow of heat out of your home in the winter time. In short, you can save money.

2. What’s the most important thing to know about insulation?

  • Its “R-value.” The R-value of an insulation product gauges the resistance the insulation has to the flow of heat.The higher the R-value, the better the product will resist heat flow. R-values are standardized, so you can compare different brands and types of insulation, and still know their relative ability to resist heat flow.

We have all heard builders claim to build “R-13” or “R-21” walls with wood frame construction. The problem is that only the highest rated component in the wall – the insulation itself – performs at these stated R-values. A wood frame wall is made up of several components, not all of which have the same R-value. For instance, a 2×4 or 2×6 stud has an R-value of about R-5 or R-7. Every 16 inches or so, one of these components breaks the insulation layer and forms a “thermal bridge”, conducting heat through the walls at high rates in addition to being a major cause of mold in standard construction. Adding up the area of studs, plates, and headers, 12% to 16% of the total wall area is an R-5 or R-7 thermal bridge, all detracting from the stated R-value. In addition, batt insulation tends to sag over time and leave spaces without any insulation! How can those builders claim only the highest-component R-value? From a whole-wall perspective, framed walls operate at far lower R-values – sometimes only half of the advertised value.

American Ingenuity’s (Ai’s) prefab panel contains seven inch thick Expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation which consists of a solid piece of  EPS that provides a continuous layer of insulation rated at R28. From a whole-wall perspective, an EPS wall actually lives up to the advertised R-values because thermal bridging is absent.

Thermal conduction is not the only mode of energy loss in a building. In fact, conduction often contributes less to energy losses in wood frame buildings than convection, which is not even measured by R-values.

Thermal Convection is heat transfer by movement of currents within fluids or gases. When considering energy performance of buildings, it’s the air moving between the inside and outside or “air infiltration”.  A common measurement is ‘Air Changes per Hour’ at a blower-door induced pressure differential of 50 Pascal (ACH50). US Energy Star standards for new homes require less than 4-7 ACH50. In comparison, Canadian R-2000 standards are 1.5 ACH50, and Swedish standards are 0.5 ACH50 or less.

  • In wood frame buildings convection can be felt as drafts and is usually the biggest source of energy loss. Air infiltration accounts for up to 40% of the energy losses of a wood framed structure. Energy escapes via conditioned air leaking through thousands of cracks, openings, and joints between all the “matchsticks” of the building shell. Major culprits include framing connections, wall, floor & roof intersections, shrinkage of wood and caulking, and poor installation of components and sealants. A typical new wood frame home has between 1.75 and 3 air changes per hour (ACH50) and after some years it’s often between 5 and 10 ACH50 as the wood shrinks and sealants deteriorate. Old wood frame homes commonly have 10 to 20 ACH50.
  • EPS walls & roofs are an effective air (and vapor) barrier because the concrete is solid without passages for air to leak, thus eliminating a major percentage of air infiltration. EPS buildings consistently get results of 0.5 to 2.5 ACH50 and less, largely depending on the installed roof type and sealing. Most air infiltration in an EPS home is through a conventional roof and around windows & doors, so pay attention to these areas. Adequate air exchange in very airtight buildings must be ensured, typically using mechanical ventilation. Mechanical ventilation can be combined with ‘heat/energy-recovery’ units and/or ground heat exchangers for additional savings where conditions & budgets allow it.

R-Value Table: Insulation Values For Selected Materials

Use the R-value table below to help you determine the R-value of your wall or ceiling assemblies. To obtain a wall or ceiling assembly R-value you must add the r-values of the individual components together.

This method ‘Wall Assembly R-Value” gives incorrect results for MASS walls such as the All Wall System.

Example of error, as defined by ORNL research papers.

When compared to a 6” R-20 framed Wood Wall a Foam Block (ICF) wall performed with a 9% better Energy Savings.

A wall built like All Wall performed with an 18% better Energy Savings. (9% over the Foam Block walls) because of the concrete being in direct contact with the interior.

See ORNL’s report conclusions by clicking here. Oakridge National Laboratory

Example:Wall Assembly R-Value Example:

Component R-value
Wall – Outside Air Film 0.17
Siding – Wood Bevel 0.80
Plywood Sheathing – 1/2″ 0.63
3 1/2″ Fiberglass Bat 11.00
1/2″ Drywall 0.45
Inside Air Film 0.68
Total Wall Assembly R-Value 13.73

R-Value Table

Material R/
Inch
R/
Thickness
Insulation Materials
Fiberglass Bat 3.14
Fiberglass Blown (attic) 2.20
Fiberglass Blown (wall) 3.20
Rock Wool Bat 3.14
Rock Wool Blown (attic) 3.10
Rock Wool Blown (wall) 3.03
Cellulose Blown (attic) 3.13
Cellulose Blown (wall) 3.70
Vermiculite 2.13
Air-entrained Concrete 3.90
Urea terpolymer foam 4.48
Rigid Fiberglass (> 4lb/ft3) 4.00
Expanded Polystyrene (beadboard) 4.00
Extruded Polystyrene 5.00
Polyurethane (foamed-in-place) 6.25
Polyisocyanurate (foil-faced) 7.20
Construction Materials
Concrete Block 4″ 0.80
Concrete Block 8″ 1.11
Concrete Block 12″ 1.28
Brick 4″ common 0.80
Brick 4″ face 0.44
Poured Concrete 0.08
Soft Wood Lumber 1.25
2″ nominal (1 1/2″) 1.88
2×4 (3 1/2″) 4.38
2×6 (5 1/2″) 6.88
Cedar Logs and Lumber 1.33
Sheathing Materials
Plywood 1.25
1/4″ 0.31
3/8″ 0.47
1/2″ 0.63
5/8″ 0.77
3/4″ 0.94
Fiberboard 2.64
1/2″ 1.32
25/32″ 2.06
Fiberglass (3/4″) 3.00
(1″) 4.00
(1 1/2″) 6.00
Extruded Polystyrene (3/4″) 3.75
(1″) 5.00
(1 1/2″) 7.50
Foil-faced Polyisocyanurate
(3/4″)
5.40
(1″) 7.20
(1 1/2″) 10.80
Siding Materials
Hardboard (1/2″) 0.34
Plywood (5/8″) 0.77
(3/4″) 0.93
Wood Bevel Lapped 0.80
Aluminum, Steel, Vinyl
(hollow backed)
0.61
(w/ 1/2″ Insulating board) 1.80
Brick 4″ 0.44

 

Interior Finish Materials
Gypsum Board (drywall 1/2″) 0.45
(5/8″) 0.56
Paneling (3/8″) 0.47
Flooring Materials
Plywood 1.25
(3/4″) 0.93
Particle Board (underlayment) 1.31
(5/8″) 0.82
Hardwood Flooring 0.91
(3/4″) 0.68
Tile, Linoleum 0.05
Carpet (fibrous pad) 2.08
(rubber pad) 1.23
Roofing Materials
Asphalt Shingles 0.44
Wood Shingles 0.97
Windows
Single Glass 0.91
w/storm 2.00
Double insulating glass
(3/16″) air space
1.61
(1/4″ air space) 1.69
(1/2″ air space) 2.04
(3/4″ air space) 2.38
(1/2″ w/ Low-E 0.20) 3.13
(w/ suspended film) 2.77
(w/ 2 suspended films) 3.85
(w/ suspended film and low-E) 4.05
Triple insulating glass
(1/4″ air spaces)
2.56
(1/2″ air spaces) 3.23
Addition for tight fitting drapes or shades, or closed blinds 0.29
Doors
Wood Hollow Core Flush
(1 3/4″)
2.17
Solid Core Flush (1 3/4″) 3.03
Solid Core Flush (2 1/4″) 3.70
Panel Door w/ 7/16″ Panels
(1 3/4″)
1.85
Storm Door (wood 50% glass) 1.25
(metal) 1.00
Metal Insulating
(2″ w/ urethane)
15.00
Air Films
Interior Ceiling 0.61
Interior Wall 0.68
Exterior 0.17
Air Spaces
1/2″ to 4″ approximately 1.00

The standard seven inch thick (R-28) expanded polystyrene insulation (E.P.S.)  in the American Ingenuity 22′ thru 48′ dome building kits can be upgraded to nine inch thick (R-36) E.P.S.  See below for pricing.  To view the detailed data and characteristics of E.P.S. insulation, please click on Panel Composition and scroll down the page to view the EPS data.

Cold northern climates like Vermont and Wisconsin, etc. are appropriate areas to build Ai dome kits with the thicker 9″ (R-36) insulation. If a 45′ or 48′ dome’s insulation is upgraded, your shipment will require two semi-trucks for delivery.  The Ai dome with 7″ E.P.S. will easily outperform conventional housing with 11″ thick fiberglass insulation. Instead of purchasing thicker insulation from American Ingenuity consider applying the money you would have spent for the thicker insulation to purchase thermal coverings for windows, triple paned windows and insulated doors.

E.P.S.- Expanded Polystyrene Insulation

E.P.S. is frequently mistakenly referred to as “Styrofoam”. Although they both come from the same “base” material, polystyrene, the two products differ in many respects. “Styrofoam” is the registered name of Dow Chemical Co. and refers to the extruded polystyrene insulation product produced and marketed solely by that company. “Styrofoam” is generally blue in color and has a minimum density of about 1.80 pounds per cubic foot. It has a different cell structure (like hollow bubbles) and has a marginally lower better R value, but is considerably more expensive, not only per board foot but even more so on a “cost per R” basis. E.P.S. is available from more than 100 manufacturers throughout the country in a variety of sizes, densities and forms. “Styrofoam” is only available from one company in a more limited range of sizes.

Seven inches of sturdy, rigid R-28 expanded polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation forms the core of each American Ingenuity component panel. This insulation is permanent, chemically and thermally stable, and resistant to mildew, provides no nutritive value to animals, plants, microorganisms, is non-irritating to skin, and is Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and formaldehyde free. This E.P.S. insulation will not rot, shrink, absorb moisture, compact, or deteriorate due to age or weather. It also acts as a vapor barrier for your home, providing stable performance year after year.

The E.P.S. that Ai uses is sometimes referred to as bead board and sometimes incorrectly referred to as Styrofoam (Styrofoam is the trade name for extruded polystyrene manufactured by Dow Chemical Co). Ai does not use Styrofoam.

American Ingenuity uses the one pound per cubic foot density, closed cell E.P.S. which has a thermal resistance (R-value) of 4.17 per inch of insulation at near freezing temperatures. This also explains why it is a very common insulation used in housing and sold at hardware stores. Ai uses the 7” thick E.P.S. which has an R-value of about 28.

Ai chose the expanded polystyrene over the extruded polystyrene because the extruded polystyrene is almost twice the cost with only a slightly better R-value.

When should you purchase the 9″ thick E.P.S.? If you have five or more days a year where the temperature reaches zero degrees then you may want to purchase the thicker 9″ insulation. If you have hotter days than most climates, we leave it up to you whether you need the 9″ thick E.P.S.. On the price list go to the Building Options and look down the list for 9″ Insulation.

Ai does not recommend that you purchase the 11″ E.P.S. insulation unless you live in a severe climate like the Northwest Territory of Canada.

Insulation Comparisons:

  • 2×4 solid wood with 3 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-8.
  • 8″ Concrete Block, with 3/4″ air, 3/4″ Celotex is about R-9.
  • 2×6 Solid wood construction with 5 1/2″ fiberglass is about R-11.
  • 2×4 solid wood with 3″ urethane is about R-13.
  • 7″ E.P.S. insulation is R-28 and is comparable to 11″ of fiberglass insulation.
  • 9″ E.P.S. insulation is R-36.
  • 11″ E.P.S. insulation is R-44.

American Ingenuity’s component panels for the 22′  thru 48′ domes includes the R-28 insulation and most of the steel reinforced concrete exterior finish and all the interior shell wallboard. Typically, in wooden domes you will likely have to purchase the insulation, wallboard and roofing materials for extra costs.

2015 Pricing For Thicker 9″  E.P.S. Insulation
22′
27′
30′
34′
40′
45′
48′
call for pricing
call for pricing
$2,650
$3,090
$3,715
$4,305
$4,795

 

If you upgrade your 40′, 45′ or 48′ dome with 9″ EPS more semi-trucks will be needed for delivery.  The 40′ or 45 ‘ & the 48’ kit will require two trucks for delivery. All Kits whose insulation is upgraded are considered Specialized Orders and are custom made for that Buyer.  These orders require a 50% deposit to start manufacturing.  If the specialized order is cancelled any payments made are non-refundable.

Q: Why are your dome homes so energy efficient?
A:
You can save 50-70% on heating and air-conditioning costs with your American Ingenuity dome over a conventionally built home. Some of the reasons for this superb energy efficiency are:

  • Super insulation that does not degrade with time, moisture, or compaction.
  • Spherical shape means reduced exposed surface.
  • Airtight exterior virtually eliminates energy leakage.
  • Solid thermal envelope.
  • Uniform R-value. The insulation is not interrupted with structural members (e.g. 2X4’s roof trusses). The only breaks are for doors and windows.
  • Downsized heating and cooling equipment.

Your kit comes with lifetime R-28 E.P.S. insulation or if you choose, thicker R-36 E.P.S. insulation is available. Even in cold climates, you may find that a single ventilating wood stove can heat a smaller dome (22′, 27′ or 30′) will provide all the heat your home will need. Larger domes need a centralized ducting system or mini-split ductless unites to disperse the heated or cooled air throughout your dome.

 ANALYSIS OF EXPANDED POLYSTYRENE INSULATION (EPS)

The Expanded Bead Polystyrene (E.P.S.) Insulation that American Ingenuity utilizes is seven inches of sturdy, rigid R-28 modified E.P.S. insulation that forms the core of each component panel. The E.P.S is one pound per cubic foot density (pcf).

The E.P.S. insulation will not rot, shrink, absorb moisture, compact, or deteriorate due to age or weather. It also acts as a vapor barrier for your home, providing stable performance year after year.  The E.P.S. is:

·         permanent

·         chemically and thermally stable

·         resistant to mildew

·         provides no nutritive value to animals, plants, microorganisms

·         non-irritating to skin

·         Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and formaldehyde free.

 

 

Click on the photo to enlarge it.  Please scroll down to view the Questions with their Answers. 

Image Image

Q: What makes your panel concrete so crack resistant?

A: The panel concrete is a special formulation containing synthetic fibers and liquid admixtures. These ingredients improve the concrete’s characteristics, create super toughness, extend durability, make concrete impervious to water, give higher tensile and compressive strength, provide elasticity for expansion, and improve freeze protection. The concrete in your dome out performs other exteriors because of its specially developed formula. Because of its exceptional composition, it actually gains strength over the years. The exterior panel concrete adheres directly to the steel mesh and the E.P.S. insulation without the need of a bonding agent.

Q: I understand when I mix concrete on site to fill the panel seams; the recipe includes the same liquid admixtures and fibers that American Ingenuity used in the panel concrete. Is this true?

A: Yes, Ai ships the same liquid admixtures and synthetic fibers with the Building Kit so the seam concrete that is mixed on site in a mortar mixer not a cement mixer will have the same properties as the panel concrete that was applied at the Ai plant.  Fibers in concrete work to reduce the formation of shrinkage, (cracks in concrete’s plastic state) while helping to improve shatter resistance and reduce water migration. The result: tougher concrete.

The liquid admixtures shipped with your dome kit are marked A and B.  One is an air entrainment and the other is a water reducer.

The Concrete Mix recipe includes water, 1 bag Portland Cement (type 1 or 111), Admixture A, Admixture B, ¼ large bag fibers, Sand (called masonry or stucco sand….no rocks). The Assembly Manual includes the precise amounts for each of these items, and when to apply the admixtures.  During the assembly of the dome kit, the seam areas between the panels are filled with the special concrete in two applications.  In between the two applications of bonding agent, that is shipped with your kit, is applied on the first coat of concrete and onto the bonding ledge of each panel before the second coat of concrete is applied. Prior to the second layer of concrete being applied, decide the seam appearance, flat or curved.  The second layer is sponged so that its appearance is a “sponged sand finish” to match the sand finish, which is the finish on Ai’s prefabricated component panels. Prior to priming and painting the concrete allow the concrete to be rained on for one month to remove efflorescence. 

Prior to the application of concrete into the seams, all the prefabricated panel concrete or cured concrete around the area to receive the new concrete is watered down.  The “Old” concrete is kept wet while the new concrete is curing. Ai’s Assembly Manual explains step by step how to apply concrete in the seams and onto the entryway and dormer panels. 

Q: After all the seams between the component panels and building options are concreted, what is used to seal the concrete?

A:  Ai does not depend on the concrete to make the dome watertight. The dome is sealed with a concrete primer and two coats of good quality exterior concrete paint purchased locally.  Ai dome owners recommend the following paints:

  • Richards Paint: Rich Flex 245; use Rich Flex Alkali Resistant 100% Acrylic Masonry Coating for the primer.
  • Behr’s top of the line exterior latex paint is Marque. Seabrook Texas dome owner loves this paint. He uses semi-gloss. Marque has the most titanium in the Behr’s line.  – Home Depot
  • Sherwin Williams: Loxon XP Paint, Loxon Primer and Conditioner
  • Behr’s Premium Elastomeric Masonry, Stucco & Brick Paint –Home Depot
  • Seal Krete Paint (pigmented) –Home Depot
  • Ames Research Labs: Maximum – Stretch, at participating ACE & True Value Stores or can be purchased directly from Ames at 888-345-0809 (if using Ames paint, specific type sealants and primer need to be used.  TT3 sealant cannot be used.)

Q: I am considering applying elastomeric paint over the entire dome, should I do this?

A: Yes if the concrete was primed with concrete primer, if the paint is breathable and if interior water vapor is removed from the interior with Broan Bathroom Exhaust Fans, Top of dome exhaust fan, stove/microwave exhaust fans and use of Heat Recovery Ventilator or Energy Recovery Ventilator if needed in your area.  Water vapor accumulates in the dome from breathing, doing laundry and dishes, showering and should be removed from the dome. 

In northern climates, install a Heat Recovery Ventilator to remove moisture or check with your local HVAC subcontractor for latest solutions.  To read about Heat Recovery Ventilators click on HRV.

For an existing dome that has elastomeric paint applied to it, please do not remove the elastomeric paint.  Please call our office for the most current painting info for previously painted domes.  Phone 321-639-8777 Mon – Fri 9-5 eastern.

Q: What if I get a leak in the dome shell?

A:  Generally, it is easier to repair a leak in our concrete dome than it is to make a repair in a shingled roof. Applying EternaBond Tape (has MicroSealant) and textured knife grade patching compound is all it takes to seal the area if the concrete is bonded.  Call Ai’s office for more info (321-639-8777). 

Q: Where am I most likely to get a leak?

A: Where a passageway connects two domes, what Ai calls a link. A leak most likely will occur where the long flat roof of the link butts up to the curved surface of the dome shell. The expansion and the contraction associated with temperature changes produce the flex or separation at the link. The fall is the most likely problem time. Seal the area where the link meets the dome with the EternaBond Tape and textured knife grade patching compound and elastomeric paint.

Q: Explain why the use of a bonding agent helps prevent leaks.

A: Technology has developed now to prevent cold joints. The Assembly Manual that comes with the American Ingenuity Dome Kit explains how to utilize bonding agent and other techniques to join the concrete in the seams. Concrete, or a cement mixture, will not bond to a dry absorbent surface such as dry concrete. The reason is easy to understand when you examine the curing process of cement. When new concrete is applied over old, dry concrete, the moisture from the new concrete will be absorbed by the dry concrete especially at the surface where they meet. When the new concrete is robbed of its moisture at the joining surface it will not cure properly and therefore will not bond.

Bonding agents are designed to improve the adhesion between layers of concrete by acting as a glue and coating and sealing the dry concrete to prevent it from robbing the moisture.

Q: What else do I do during the seam concreting to assure that the second layer of concrete bonds to the concrete of the panels and to the first layer of the seam concrete?

A: This is discussed in detail in the Assembly Manual,  basically, wet the adjacent panels with water and allow them to soak up all the water they will before applying concrete into the seam areas. Plus apply bonding agent on the concrete ledge at the edge of the panel and on any concrete that has been placed in the seam before the second layer of concrete is applied.

Q: What other special features are designed into the panels of your kit to improve the bond and strength of your dome?

A: The pre-concreted panels have a ledge molded into the edge of the concrete where the seam concrete is most needed to bond. This ledge increases the bonding surface, thereby increasing the ultimate strength of the joint. The steel mesh, which extends from the old concrete to the new concrete is a small mesh which compliments the effect of the fibers in securing the joint.

Q: Can I spray concrete into the seams instead of hand applying it?

A: No. Ai does not recommend pumping or spraying the concrete into the dome seams because the equipment usually pumps faster than the seams can be finished. The over spray gets on the panels and unless it is washed off ASAP, it will harden and be difficult to remove.

Q: Why is it more beneficial to have pre-concreted panels instead of spraying concrete all over the dome on site?

A: A continuous sprayed concrete structure will cause the concrete to cure all at once.  Pre-concreted panels allow for the panel concrete to cure prior to the seam concrete being applied.

In 1976 American Ingenuity manufactured and then built its first geodesic dome prototype by utilizing reinforced concrete over E.P.S. insulation. Steel mesh was hand tied onto the propped up E.P.S. insulation, concrete was then gunited and troweled over the propped up E.P.S. insulation. Countless designs and manufacturing construction techniques were analyzed in the early years as American Ingenuity developed a new generation in dome housing. Ai has outgrown two previous models as we progressed to a five dome complex.

Ai does not recommend sprayed concrete structures because spraying concrete causes a waste of labor and concrete. The concrete ends up being 2″ thick in one place and 3″ to 4″ thick in other places. The concrete on the dome needs to be thick only in the seams and thin on the panels.  It is a waste of labor because it is difficult for the concrete finishers to stand in the concrete and try to finish the concrete as it cures.

Q: What is the curing time for the seam concrete?

A: The weather and the mix of the concrete (amount of water, etc.) will effect the curing time of the concrete. Usually by the time a complete row of panels is placed the next row can be assembled. If  a panel is placed above another panel and cracks start to form in the first coat of concrete, then the concrete has not cured long enough.  Stop placing panels until the concrete has cured and passes the “scratch test”.  Take a nail or screw driver and scratch the concrete if no indentation place the next row of panels.


Dome Consultant link from Video

How Does The American Ingenuity Geodesic Dome COMPARE TO THE MONOLITHIC DOME?

Are Aidomes as sturdy as Monolithic domes? Yes, our domes are as sturdy as Monolithic domes and Ai’s has a rigid noncombustible  concrete exterior vs Monolithic Dome has an outer membrane.   To view video of monolithic dome and a fire and info about Ai dome’s fire resistant concrete exterior, click on Ai Concrete Exterior.  The Aidome exterior comes with a 225 mph wind and EF4 Tornado Warranty.  One of Aidomes withstood the impact of a 30″ in diameter hickory tree impact with no damage.  An Aidome withstood Hurricane Andrew and a tornado at the same time with no structural damage – only a hairline crack and small piece of concrete broken when the tornado slammed a two wide steel horse trailer on the dome.  To view  strength info about Aidomes, click on Acts of Nature.   Why did Ai stop guniting concrete on to the exterior of its dome – too labor intensive and a waste of concrete.

The Ai dome exterior walls cost 1/3 to 1/2 less than a Monolithic dome exterior.  Although you have not asked, Aidomes are equally if not more energy efficient. Ai’s dome kit contains seven inch thick insulation which is comparable to eleven inches of fiberglass batting.

The assembly of the monolithic dome requires expensive concrete spraying equipment and is not a do-it-yourself project. The American Ingenuity Dome Kits were specifically designed for the owner builder. All of the panels are premarked with numbers and letters which are described in the Assembly Manual and on the Nomenclature Blueprint in the Building Plans.  Ai’s dome kits can be assembled using a mortar mixer, conventional cranes, man lift or hoisting mechanisms with no need to spray concrete over the entire dome surface. The Ai component panels already have 80% of the exterior prefinished concrete reinforced with galvanized steel mesh and fibers on the exterior. The Aidome kit requires less on site concrete work because it is only the seam areas between the component panels and the entryways and dormers which require concreting. The seam area between the panels is about 5” wide and 3” deep with the on site seam concrete application averaging two inches thick.  To view info about being an owner builder, click on DIY.

In 1976 American Ingenuity built its first geodesic dome utilizing reinforced concrete over expanded bead polystyrene (E.P.S.) insulation. Road mesh was hand tied onto propped up E.P.S. panels, the concrete was then gunited or pumped over the propped up E.P.S. insulation. Each time Ai built a dome this way, we knew there had to be a better way resulting in a prefabricated component panel being invented and receiving a patent.  Countless designs and manufacturing construction techniques were analyzed in the early years as Ai developed a new generation in dome housing. Ai has outgrown two previous models as we progressed to a five dome office and factory complex.

Spraying concrete on a structure causes a waste of labor and concrete. The concrete ends up being 2″ thick in one place and 3″ to 4″ thick in other places. The concrete on the Ai geodesic dome needs to be thick only in the seams and thin on the panels.  It is a waste of labor because it is difficult for the concrete finishers to finish the concrete as it is curing. Also a continuous sprayed concrete structure will cause the concrete to cure all at once.  Preconcreted panels allow for the panel concrete to cure prior to the seam concrete being applied.  For those homeowners who do not want to assemble the American Ingenuity dome kit themselves, the homeowner can hire a local builder who hires the independent kit assembly consultant to supervise the builder’s workers during the kit assembly.  To view our web site info about the Specialist/Consultant, please click on Specialist.

THERMAL MASS IN RELATION  TO MONOLITHIC DOMES

Generally speaking, in a home, thermal mass is the amount of stuff inside the house that retains heat. Although thermal mass accounts for the fact that some things have a greater “thermal capacity” to store heat than others, to understand its effect you can think of it as the total weight of everything contained in the house. With more thermal mass (heavy stuff) inside your house more heat will have to be added or removed to change the temperature. Expressed another way, if heat is not being added the temperature will be slower to change. Does Thermal Mass affect the energy efficiency of the house? NO.  As heat in the house is lost through walls, windows etc, the temperature drops.

The thermal mass releases (loans) heat into the house slowing down the temperature change. When the heating system turns on it must replace heat lost to the outside and it must also replace (pay back) the heat given off by the thermal mass. There is no long-term gain or loss; all of the heat given off by the thermal mass must be replaced. The amount of heat required to maintain the temperature inside a house is solely dependent on the amount of heat that escapes to the outside. All houses have walls, floors, and usually fixtures, appliances and stuff that will retain heat. A large amount of thermal mass can cause long on/off cycles of the heating system when shorter cycles would stir the air more frequently providing more comfort and uniform temperatures inside.

The recent generation of thermostats are a proven money saver by lowering the inside temperature (which lowers the heat loss to the outside) during those hours you are away at work, etc.  A large thermal mass makes it much harder to change the temperature; therefore reducing the savings.

Why is the Ai dome so energy efficient?  

Ai’s kit has standard 7″ thick EPS R28 insulation. The cost to build one of our kits runs about the same to build as a traditional home but our home has insulation comparable to 11” of fiberglass batting!  (using the 7″ EPS).  A traditional house would require 2×10 to come close to our dome….but it would have wood interrupting the insulation.  The thick insulation, reduced exterior surface area (30% less surface area than conventional shaped home) and uninterrupted insulation causes low cooling and low heating bills.

As far as functioning in cold, snowy environment, American Ingenuity domes have been built in such cold climates as Canada, at 7,500 feet elevation in Utah, 3,400 feet elevation in North Carolina, South Dakota, Minnesota, Montana, Wisconsin, Vermont, New York and all cold states in the USA except for New Hampshire, Rhode Island and North Dakota.  It is easier to heat an Ai dome that to cool one. To heat the furnace does not need to overcome heat generated from sunlight, clothes dryer, dish washer, body heat, light fixtures.

Below are examples of heating and cooling info on Aidomes.

  1. To view Glenda’s 1,075 sq. ft. dome home’s electric bill please view 34′ Dome Home Energy Recap   (total electric house with solar hot water panel – has actual copies of the electric bills).  I can cool my 1,075 sq.ft house for less than $27 a month in the hot Florida summer months.  (76 degrees when home and 79 degrees when not). As we discussed the Ai dome is even easier to heat than to cool.  To Heat you do not have to overcome sunlight, heat generated by the clothes dryer, dishwasher, computer, etc. This generated heat is utilized.
  2. Ai’s dome offices of 3,700 sq.ft. can be cooled for less than $85 a month (you can view actual electric bills at this link) in the hot Florida summer months to 74 degrees during the day Mon-Sat and 77 degrees at night and on Sunday.
  3. One of our domes built in South Carolina received the Energy Star  It has geothermal pipes.  Home Energy Partners certified his home used 61% less energy than in comparably-size housing.   The dome owner installed a geothermal cooling & heating system. To view pictures & info about his geothermal system, click on System.  Klaus’s total monthly average energy bill was $49. This includes the electricity and propane costs for his entire 1,600 sq.ft. – 40 ft. dome.
  4. Here is a quote from the Charles family about their PA 40 dome on full basement with Geothermal and radiant floor heating:  Mr. & Mrs. Charles: ““We live in the mountains of PA. The winters up here can be brutal. Our Ai Dome is a 40ft with Link on a 9″ thick livable basement. {Den, Office/Computer room, Kitchenette} The entire interior, to include the mechanical room, is heated and cooled by a Geothermal, Water furnace, Radiant floor system. Our zone controllers are set on 74 degrees winter and summer. Our sole power source, at present, is the grid. Our costs per month range from $99 to a high of $120. We were amazed that our cost now are less than when we lived in a 14 by 73 ft. mobile home while building the Dome. Our decision to build an American Ingenuity Dome home was the best decision we have ever made.”
  5. Jim Collar’s Utah Ai concrete dome buildings (45 linked to a 30’) operate off the grid by using photovoltaics’, masonry heater fireplace and passive solar water tubes. To learn more, click on  Off The Grid.
  6. Per Eric Brindley, “Our 2,600 sq.ft. 48’ dome located in Edgewater Florida is very efficient and strong. It has been hit by several hurricanes and tropical storms with no damage at all. My neighbor’s conventional house was severely damaged by the storms. I keep the house at 72 degrees in the summer and warmer in winter. My electric bill is around $100 a month with no water/sewer bill because I’m on well/septic.”
  7. If a person does not need to air condition their home, then if window dormers or windows within entryways are placed opposite each other cross ventilation can occur and cool the dome.  Our factory has three Ai domes which are not air conditioned.  In the heat of the Florida summers, you can walk in the domes and they are cooler than the outside air.  Floor fans circulate the air.  The super insulated dome is cooler inside with no air conditioning than a conventional house.
  8. Glenda owned a 34’ dome built at 3,400 feet elevation that could reach -8 degrees in the winter. Its south facing high profile entryway allowed sunlight to come in the dome.  When we wanted to carry wood and burn the fireplace, the fireplace and the sunlight from the entryway was enough to heat the dome.  At night we utilized a kerosene feed heater set at 68 degrees and the fire place for heat. During the winter we would use around 100 gallons of kerosene.
  9. Yes a fireplace can be installed in the dome.  Just let us know about where you want it located and our CAD department with use its 3D elevation view to locate the flue pipe’s exit from the dome.  It needs to be 8” from the center of a seam. On site a hole can be cut in the prefab panel.  Instructions on how to cut the hole are in the Assembly Manual.

Zoning pertains to whether a residential, commercial or industrial building can be constructed on a property. Besides zoning ordinances controlling the use of the land, they determine setbacks from property lines, minimum required home size and height limits and similar things, Ai has never heard of a zoning restriction on domes.  Health Departments determine set backs from a well and septic tank/drain field.  In Florida that set back can be 50 feet to 100 feet.  It is best to complete a site plan on the particular property you are interested in building on which shows the set backs, driveway location, home location, etc. so it can be determined what buildable area is left on the property to build your home.

Building Departments do not generally deal with appearance. They are usually concerned about strength and code compliance – except for Florida where product approval can be enforced in some areas. Deed restrictions, zoning and homeowner associations can limit the type structure which can be built on a property.  American Ingenuity’s (Ai’s) dome design has proved itself by withstanding hurricane Andrew’s 200 mph winds, four hurricanes in 2004, sub zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of Canada and the Northwest Territory, a large tree impact and many other conditions over a 40 year period.

Do all Florida Counties allow the Ai dome to be built?  Even though the Ai dome building complies with the Florida’s 2014 Building Code 5th Edition and one of Ai’s domes survived Hurricane Andrew and a tornado at the same time with no structural damage, we have learned that Dade, Broward, Orange, Indian River and St John Counties in Florida require product approval. Due to the cost and complexity of the tests, Ai has not paid for the testing.  Ai has learned that most Florida building departments will issue a dome building permit if Florida Engineer Sealed Plans are submitted along with Florida engineer sealed Equivalency Report which includes structural calculations performed on Ai’s largest size dome (48’) at worst case Florida Conditions which are 180 mph wind speed, Wind Exposure Class D with five max first floor entryway openings.  The report states that American Ingenuity’s prefab panel and building system complies with Florida Building Codes section 104.11 allowing for Alternative Materials and Methods for home construction.  This sealed report is provided with the sealed plans at no additional cost.

 At no cost to you, our office can call the building department who governs the property you are considering purchasing to see what is required for them to issue a building permit.  For us to do please provide the tax ID number, main street adjacent to the property and the city or county name who governs the property.  Ai will call the plans examiner and describe the dome building kit, email pdfs on the building plans, and ask if engineer sealed building plans, sealed Equivalency Report and passing Energy Report along with their other required paperwork is submitted, can the Ai dome be built in that area?

Sometimes in California if the dome is being built near a large city, the building department might require the building kit to be certified by the State of California.  Ai has not pursued this certification due to its cost.  However, as of 2014 Ai has since learned that the Ai dome kit can be built in specific areas…please call for our latest list.   If planning on building in California, Ai will be happy to contact your building department. Ai will discuss Ai’s building kit, and email generic plans. We will speak with them and find out if you submit California Engineer Sealed Plans, California engineer sealed seismic, wind structural calculations, a passing Title 24 Energy Report along with all other required paperwork whether a building permit can be issued on the Ai dome.

If you do not have the time or do not want to assemble the dome shell kit, click on Kit Assembly Specialist to learn about this service. The Specialist will supervise your or your contractor’s laborers to complete the shell assembly.

Prior to purchasing Building Plans you need to assure you have answers to the following questions:

  1. Does the deed for your land have any restrictions on domes?
  2. If there is a Home Owners’ Association governing your land, you will need to check with them and make sure you can build a dome.
  3. Do you have your financing secured?

Engineer Sealed Dome Building Plans can be purchased from American Ingenuity.

45' dome on full basement by pond in summer time. The pictures in this grouping are for this dome.

45′ dome on full basement by pond in summer time.

Pictured above is 40′ dome on full basement in Missouri. 

Standard entryways, second floor balcony, cupola.

It is American Ingenuity’s philosophy that each customer pay for only what they need. Ai does not burden the price of the building kit with plan’s pricing, engineer seal cost or energy report cost. Building plans are purchased three months to 1 1/2 years prior to kit shipment.  About 50% of the building departments require engineer sealed plans and an energy report to issue a permit. As a result each customer pays for their plans separately from the building kit and pays for a seal and energy report only if their building department requires them.  Commercial building plans and their engineer seal can cost 2-3 times the price of residential dome plans due to the complexity of the plan design.  To view sale pricing on the dome plans and the dome building kit, please click on Sale.  Dome Kit Assembly photos can be viewed at Kit Assembly.  Engineering statement can be viewed at Statement.  To view examples of stock floor plans for each diameter of dome, click on Tiny Domes and  Geodesic Dome Home Plans. Once on the page, scroll down to find the hyperlinks to click on.

If you give us your property tax ID number or property address and your building department name  at no cost to you, American Ingenuity can call your building department, show them our web site, drop box generic plans to the official and ask them the following questions.  Is an Engineer’s seal required on the building plans?  Is an Energy Report required? If required the Engineer Seal and the Energy Report can be purchased from Ai.

What are building departments concerned with? They are concerned with strength and safety and domes excel in these areas. Building departments and building codes are not concerned with appearance; although a plans examiner may be unfamiliar with the aspects of dome construction.  They are also concerned with environmental issues and endangered plants and animals.  Ai can email you a document that lists the items to watch out for prior to purchasing land and the questions to ask if you already own your property.

Do some building departments require engineer sealed building plans to obtain a building permit? About 50% of Ai’s client’s building departments require engineer sealed building plans to issue a building permit.  Call your building department and find out what they require to issue a permit.  If they require engineer sealed plans, this means that a licensed engineer for your state will need to review American Ingenuity’s building plans to assure that they comply with your state’s building requirements. Ai has a list of engineers certified for all USA states who have sealed Ai plans.  Ai calls the engineer and obtains a seal cost which is included on your Plans Quote. When you agree with the Plans Quote and make payment in full for the plans and the engineer seal, Ai starts your plans design and emails the pdfs to the engineer for his review. He tells us of any changes, we make those changes, plot out your plans and mail them to the engineer for his stamp and signature.  He then mails them on to you. His signature and stamp means he takes responsibility for the dome design not your building department. 

Does all new construction in Florida and California require engineer sealed plans & energy report to obtain a building permit? Yes. 

Q: Does American Ingenuity have an engineering statement about your prefabricated dome panels that can be submitted to my building department?

A:  Yes, to view the statement click on Engineering.

What is the standard foundation included with the stock plans? Concrete slab. For Ai to design a basement or concrete columns or stem wall or pilings, etc. an engineer fee is added to the Plans Quote to cover the cost for a structural engineer to calculate the load of the dome and the load of the two floors within the dome and give joist/edge beam size/spacing and foundation design to our CAD department to incorporate within the plans. Please call for engineer fee.

Florida Engineer Seal info:

  • A Florida engineer seal for 36′ or smaller dome built on a slab is $400. The seal cost for a 40′ – 48′ dome on a slab is $500.

Florida building departments also require a Florida Energy Report to be submitted at the same time the Florida sealed building plans are submitted.  This report is quite detailed and specific – Ai no longer completes this report but provides the dome info to the company completing the energy report for $100. Please call Ai at 321-639-8777 for specifics.

Building in California:  A California engineer seal for one dome (22′ – 48′) on a slab is $600. Plus California requires Energy Calculations. Ai. can put you in contact with a firm that performs the California Energy Calculations. 

The following building departments in California will allow the Ai dome to be built – California Counties of San Diego, San Bernardino, Trinity, Solona, Shasta and Riverside. The building department will accept CA engineer sealed plans, CA sealed structural calculations, CA sealed engineering statement that includes the following: “panel composition of the geodesic dome buildings is designed in accordance with and conforms to the intent of California Building Code that allows for alternative materials and methods of construction”.  If you are thinking of building near a large California city, the building department could require that the building kit be certified by the state of California. It is not cost effective for American Ingenuity to pay for this certification.  As a result if this is required, the Ai dome cannot be built.

At no cost to you, Ai can contact your building department –  show them our web site and email generic plans, engineering statement, sample of structural calculations.  When calling Ai will ask if California engineer sealed plans, California Energy Report, California sealed engineering statement and wind/seismic/snow/bracing calculations and all their other required paperwork and reports are submitted can a residential building permit be obtained on the Ai dome kit.  Ai is happy to talk to your building officials to answer their questions.

What does the engineer do? He reviews the American Ingenuity Dome Building Plans to assure that they comply with your state’s building codes. The engineer will let us know if anything needs to be changed. We make the changes to the plans and we send the revised plans to the engineer who then crimps them with his seal and signs his name to the structural sheets. This seal and his signature mean that he certifies that the plans comply with your state’s building codes. Either we or the engineer mails the signed plans to you. You take them along with the other required paperwork to your building department to obtain your building permit. Because each city and county within each state can have varying requirements, your city or county building department may request some changes to the sealed plans. Ai will work with your building department to make those changes at no cost to you. However if the engineer has to get reinvolved with design work, there may be an engineering fee. If your building department will not accept the changes via electronic sealed document and require the revised sheets to be printed or new sets of sealed plans submitted, the buyer will incur a plotting and shipping cost on the required blueprints.

When an engineer seals a set of plans he is taking responsibility for the structural design for a single dome in the location intended and the seal would not apply to other projects.

Can Building Departments be hard to work with? Not normally.  American Ingenuity is used to working with building departments and is happy to answer any and all of their questions. For example we had two clients in Palatka Florida who were going for building permits around the same time. Their building department approved their plans (with no changes) within a couple of weeks. Similar plans with similar information were submitted to counties south of us and the building officials wanted changes and took a couple of months to give the client a building permit. Ai never knows how each building official will interpret the Building Codes for their state.

Tell me about the strength of the Ai dome. The code design criteria requires that Ai show the American Ingenuity Dome Building can with stand wind, snow and seismic loading.  Our standard design will accommodate forces in excess of up to 225 mph winds, F4 tornado and 50 lbs. snow load.  Click on Strength to learn more.

To view pictures about the kit assembly, click on Dome Kit Assembly.

Our dome design has proved itself by withstanding hurricane Andrew’s 200 mph winds, sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow loads of Canada and the Northwest Territory, a 30″ in diameter tree impact, four Florida hurricanes in 2004 and many other conditions since 1976. Click on Hurricane Recap to learn more.  Although our Building Plans have been reviewed by over 30 different engineers, the plans do not come with an engineer’s seal for the following reasons.  About half of our dome owners needed engineer sealed Building Plans to obtain a building permit and rather than adding the engineer seal cost to all plans it is more economical to have the plans sealed as needed. As the designer and manufacturer American Ingenuity would not hesitate to guarantee the structural integrity of our dome and we do just that with our guarantee. Each state only accepts a seal from an engineer who is registered in that state which prevents us from applying any seal that would be universally accepted.

Does the Ai Dome comply with the new  Florida Building Code? Yes, although we have been informed that Dade and Broward Counties in South Florida require product approval on the wall segments. Due to the cost and complexity of the tests, Ai has concluded it is not economical for us to pursue product approval. Ai has found that most all other Florida building departments will accept Florida engineer sealed plans, Florida Engineer Sealed Structural Calculations and Florida engineer sealed engineering statement that says “panel composition of the geodesic dome buildings is designed in accordance with and conforms to the intent of 2014 Florida Building Code 5th Edition, Residential and referenced provisions of the 2014 Florida Building Code, Building that allows for alternative materials and methods of construction.”