Concrete becomes even more important to the farmer when he reaches out for the benefits of earth sheltering. Energy savings is one of the primary reasons that many builders have opted for the earth-sheltered alternative, with savings of 40 to 60 percent commonly being reported. Substantial energy savings can result not because earth is a good insulator, but because of the stable temperature environment that the earth provides. This is an important benefit especially where animal confinement buildings are concerned.
Storage facilities are a natural for earth-integrated farm buildings, everything from grain to equipment storage. Earth-sheltered shop facilities could have several advantages; even an unheated shop building protected all around by earth berms might be warm enough to work in on below-zero days, whereas a surface building would require substantial heat to make it usable. The inside temperature of unheated, unoccupied ammunition bunkers in Nevada covered with 1 or 2 feet of earth virtually never drops below 40 degrees F, even on the coldest below-zero winter days.
Low maintenance costs are usually associated with underground buildings because the structural materials are protected by the earth and are not exposed to the hazards that surface buildings are exposed to (such as temperature induced expansion and contraction stresses). Earth-sheltered structures are also virtually stormproof and are much less susceptible to fire damage. Concrete is by far the most popular structural material for most buried industrial facilities, although many other materials can be used alone or together with concrete for farm buildings. Concrete offers many advantages and is widely available; the method should be selected according to the size and type of structure and the construction materials and skills available locally.