Earth sheltering protects and buffers a building from outdoor temperature extremes, precipitation, wind, and humidity.

In addition to protecting a building from the elements, earth sheltering can preserve natural habitat and reduce exterior noise transmission.

Orient the building to maximize natural ventilation, daylighting, and, in cold climates, passive solar heat gain.


  • For earth retaining structures use continuous waterproof barriers comparable to those used in green roof and swimming pool construction.  
  • Provide sufficient indoor air circulation to prevent mold and condensation particularly in humid climates.
  • Locate insulation on the exterior face of retaining walls.
  • Build above the groundwater level where possible, and focus drainage away from the building. Flood-prone sites are not recommended for earth sheltering.