Low-Cost Green Home
setting panel on larger AI Dome with rib system
Photos courtesy of AI Domes

AI Domes

American Ingenuity Geodesic Domes are made of triangular panels that, once secured, hold each other up without any supporting framework. Each panel is a sandwich of 1/2" Georgia Pacific DensArmor wallboard for the interior side, 7" R-28 expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation in the middle, and 1/2" to 3/4" steel-reinforced concrete for the exterior side. During construction, the larger domes require a temporary rib system of 2x4s and steel hubs, but for smaller domes, up to 34' in diameter, panels can be temporarily supported using 2x4s leaned up to them from the ground.

Panels are usually hoisted into place by a small crane, but a variety of other hoisting mechanisms can be devised, including a winch on a rolling scaffold for smaller domes. Once panels are in place, the overlapping steel mesh between them is locked together by steel C-rings, and the seam is sealed by two coats of a special concrete mix. The exterior of the dome is coated with a concrete primer and latex house paint. The interior wall board is finished with tape, joint compound, and textured paint.

building smaller AI Dome with radial supports
Advantages of AI Domes:
  • An AI Dome is much more consistently insulated than a conventional, stud-and-batt house, and its R-value will not degrade over time as do many common insulations such as fiberglass.
  • The EPS insulation in an AI Dome acts as a vapor retarder and air barrier. Eliminating unwanted air infiltration saves heating and cooling costs and makes humidity control much easier.
  • The AI Dome's EPS is free of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and formaldehyde, has a flame-spread rating five times lower (better) than code requires, and, under a worse-case fire scenario, emits no more toxic fumes than wood.
  • AI Domes are exceptionally strong against wind, snow loads, and earthquakes.
  • Unlike wood, AI Domes will not burn, rot, or get eaten.
  • All of the AI Dome materials are highly resistant to mold and mildew. The interior wall board is coated with fiberglass matting instead of paper.

For much more information, see AI Domes.

finished AI Dome with balcony