EDITOR’S NOTE: We want to learn how other companies approach sustainability, so we’ve decided to publish a series of posts featuring innovative companies who are doing their part to support our planet. See below to read a Q&A with David B. South, president & founder of the Monolithic Dome Institute & Monolithic Constructors Inc.
When you think of a house, you might envision four walls and a roof.
David B. South of the Monolithic Dome Institute envisions a different kind of home – one that is fire-proof, earthquake-safe and completely round – using 50 to 75% less energy than traditional buildings.
If you’ve ever traveled between Austin and Dallas on Interstate 35, you may have noticed dome-shaped buildings forming a catepillar along the side of the highway and wondered what purpose they serve.
Below is a Q&A with David B. South of Monolithic, a Green Mountain Energy renewable energy customer, on how the company is reconstructing traditional views of residential living to help provide affordable family living to those in need.
Can you tell us a little bit about Monolithic and what you guys do?
Monolithic Constructors Inc. is a company I established 40 years ago when I built my first monolithic concrete dome in Idaho, originally used to store potatoes! After that, I built a house for my mother. Since then, we’ve built domes in 53 countries and in 49 states. Our last project was the National Cultural Center in Ankara, Turkey.
Domes, built with concrete and polyurethane foam insulation, use about half to as little as a fourth of much energy for heating and cooling as normal buildings. They’re green, reasonably-priced to construct, they can survive many natural disasters, they’re micro-energy users and their lifespans are measured in centuries. You can read more about their benefits here. We provide domes for people and institutions around the world.
My personal goal is to make this world a better place.
How does Monolithic seek to accomplish their mission?
Monolithic domes can be designed to fit any architectural need, from homes to cabins to churches, schools, gyms and bulk storage units. I teach classes on how to build your own dome homes. Currently, I’ve got a representative in the Philippines, and we’re talking about how to replace schools and homes that have been lost in typhoons. Concrete structures are one way to do it, as we’ve done in Haiti, which has faced all kinds of natural disasters that domes can withstand.
About 20 years ago, we started a program to develop low-cost housing that we could rent to people. We have 125 of these dome rentals now for 1 or 2 people to live in, and they are charged by the week. They range from $95-$140/wk and we pay all the bills for the domes. Now I have people in several states who are building these domes and creating a better life for folks.
Why does sustainability matter to Monolithic?
We’ve built over 100 schools, and on average, the energy savings can help pay for these school buildings in about 13 to 20 years. The more money we save, the more we can build for people.
That’s why I was attracted to Green Mountain Energy! We can’t keep doing things the old way. Green energy is the way of the future.
Where can people learn more about Monolithic?
Visit us in Italy, Texas!
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To read about more businesses and people focused on sustainability, visit our “Sustainability Stories” archive by clicking here.