March 6th, 2009
The rewards of building green are many, but they often come with some frustrations on the side. One of the greatest challenges can be sourcing building materials - that great green design or green building certification might rely on materials that are very tough to find in your market.
Wood products are a case in point. If you insist on using only the best green wood in your project (wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC), then be prepared to run around a bit. You might be able to find FSC-certified core building materials such as framing lumber, flooring or decking at your local home improvement store, but you’ll likely be more challenged finding local sources of doors, windows, cabinets and finish materials.
With some hard work and a great contractor, though, it’s possible to use nothing but green wood, as shown by the 2008 winner of FSC’s “Designing and Building With FSC” award. Portland, Oregon builder Green Hammer, Inc. won the award after using nearly 100% FSC-certified wood in their LeapFrog project (the only exceptions were some limited materials salvaged from local buildings or milled from on-site trees). Among the wood products used were FSC-certified Douglas fir, hemlock and spruce from local forests for framing lumber, floor, trim and cabinets and FSC formaldehyde-free plywood. Best of all, Stephen Aiguier, president of Green Hammer, estimated that the use of FSC wood only added 1-2% to the cost of the project (via GreenSource Magazine).
- Geothermal heat pump for radiant floors and panels, and domestic hot water;
- Advanced framing techniques (staggered studs) that minimize thermal bridging in the walls and allow for an uninterrupted layer of insulation;
- Rainwater catchment system with purification that provides 100% of the home’s water needs (wow!);
- “Cool” metal roof without any plumbing or ventilation penetrations - energy efficient, offers the possibility of lasting for 100 years, and assists in funneling clean water to the catchment system.
Oh, and if your interest has been piqued AND you happen to live in the Portland area, there’s one for sale! The $690K pricetag is a bit steep, but I’m sure the huge energy and water bill savings with this home will take a big chunk out of that through time.
Visit Low Impact Living’s directory of green builders to find help with a similar project near you. Or, read more about selecting sustainable wood, using geothermal heat pumps, and selecting eco-friendly roofing materials.
Popularity: 7% [?]
February 20th, 2009
Written by Brian Liloia, courtesy of Green Building Elements.com
Last week I talked about how to live simply and decrease your carbon footprint living in a tiny house. Even better than buying a tiny house is making your own, and Michael Janzen is blazing a trail with his free tiny pallet house. Not only is his house made out of recycled shipping pallets, it isn’t costing him anything to build. And lucky for us, he’s sharing his plans so you too can build your own tiny free house.
You can save money, sharpen your DIY skills, and further decrease your environmental impact by following Janzen’s example of building a free pallet house.
Keep pallets out of landfills
Here are some disturbing statistics about shipping pallets:
- Approximately 40% of all hardwood harvested in the U.S. is for making shipping pallets
- About two-thirds of pallets are used only once before being thrown out
- 1/4 of all wood in landfills is from used pallets
You can help prevent deforestation and keep pallets out of landfills by finding creative alternative uses for them, like building a house. Pallets can be found everywhere. Once you start looking for them, you’ll see them scattered all over your town or city.
Contact a local warehouse, supermarket, or any business that receives large shipments, and get permission to pick up their used pallets. Most companies are happy to give their pallets away.
Plans for a free pallet house
Janzen has made plans for building a free pallet house available on his website. These plans are a guide for building what he calls a disaster preparedness and emergency shelter. Janzen says:
As hurricane Gustav plowed across Cuba headed for the gulf coast of the United States memories of Katrina and the potential displacement of thousands got me thinking. I wanted to do something to help. It occurred to me that someone else might find what I now about building with shipping pallets useful in the coming weeks and months.
With some creativity, you may find that shipping pallets can be reappropriated in other ways to build your own free tiny house. For example, I have a friend that has disassembled shipping pallets and used the wood to build roof trusses for his straw bale building.
Ultimately, you can help prevent deforestation and keep pallets out of landfills by using them to build creative housing.
Think tiny and free!
Popularity: 6% [?]