Our goal is to build a beautiful, functional and affordable home that will be durable and efficient. We are using primarily production home building techniques for our Barn/House and giving them each our own unique tweak. This keeps the construction costs manageable while delivering us a home that will perform well and be significantly lighter in it’s use of resources. Below we give a brief account of many of these features, most of which will have their own blog post eventually:
Home Design: We used the help of Kappler Architects to create a set of plans that was value engineered from top to bottom. The home is dual purpose with a large workshop downstairs and a very open, studio-like living space upstairs.
Site work: We used back-fill for the foundation dug right from the property. This was the best way to ensure a small carbon footprint for sourcing this material. We then filled the hole from where we gathered the material with debris from old slash piles (from the previous owner harvesting timber) so that growth in that area will return as quickly as possible with extra rich soil.
Foundation: We sourced a portion of the gravel from a friend’s pit, less than a mile away. The remainder of the fill and concrete came from the closest source possible. This kept the carbon footprint and cost as low as we could for a traditionally formed slab foundation. We also used 2″ rigid foam insulation under the slab to up the overall R-Value and hold in the radiant heat.
Framing: Where possible we used 24 inch spacing in between studs for walls as opposed to 16 inches. This helped us save on wood and allows us to fit in more insulation for a higher overall R-Value. All construction debris was also saved for future projects.
House Wrap: We used Green Guard house wrap which has a strong, cross-woven structure that resists tearing, so there’s less waste.
Siding: HardiPlank siding with ColorPlus technology, made from renewable materials, contains no petroleum products, lasts longer than other materials (less in landfills), and may not need to be painted for over 20 years because of the baked on coloring.
Roofing: Unpainted Metal Roof, 7 to 10 million tons of shingle waste is dumped in landfills across the country each year, a metal roof may never need to be replaced in our lifetime.
Knee-braces, Deck pillars and Shed Roof Supports: Glu-Lam (Not Pressure Treated) lumber. Pressure treated lumber often contains harmful chemicals such as Pentachlorophenol and Creosote which can effect humans, wildlife and water supply.
Venting: Full length ridge vent and working cupola will help vent hot air effectively from the attic space during hot summer days.
Windows: All windows are Energy Star qualified with Low-E glass. We also got operable windows wherever possible so we can open and close them to moderate temp effectively without using AC for much of the summer.
Insulation: For energy efficiency, sound dampening and (of course) environmentally friendly reasons we’ve chosen EcoBatt. Often times, even “environmentally friendly” products use a lot of energy to produce (solar panels for instance). Insulation, however, saves 12 times more energy the first year in use than it takes to manufacture it. EcoBatt is made from highly renewable organic materials and does not contain phenol, formaldehyde, acrylics or artificial colors used to make traditional fiberglass insulation. It is made from bio-based materials rather than non-renewable petroleum-based products commonly used in insulation. Instead, EcoBatt is created with sand, one of the world’s most abundant and renewable resources, and post-consumer recycled glass.
Flooring: The shop has concrete floors. The living spaces all have Forbo Marmoleum. “Made from renewable, natural ingredients, Marmoleum is a healthy choice for the environment and your environment. Marmoleum’s naturally inherent anti-static properties repel dust and dirt, making it easy to keep clean and allergen free.” The bedrooms have wool carpeting, which is 100% natural and allergen free. We used non-porous, non-toxic soy-based carpet pad from Healthier Choice.
Interior Paint: Zero-VOC paint. And Zero-VOC, non-toxic, water based, natural stains for all interior mill-work.
Plumbing: We will be using a dual flush toilet that can flush with just 0.8 gallons of water, bamboo bathroom sinks, WEDI shower system that is remarkably resilient and prevents mold growth, and durable PEX piping. (Read about the green potential of PEX piping here.)
Heating: Hydronic radiant heat with a high efficiency electric boiler. (Still sourcing boiler.)
Air Conditioner: Mitsubishi Mr. Slim Ductless AC with a 16-17.5 seer Energy Star high-efficiency rating. (Yes, we agree that giving up AC completely would use less energy. We don’t plan on using it much. But with temperatures sometimes reaching into the 100′s we want to provide a comfortable and safe environment for any possible mini-moosicorns.)
Ducting: There won’t be any. Ducting collects dust and allergens and is remarkably hard to clean. With radiant heat and a ductless AC our home will be ductless.
Appliances: Energy Star appliances.
Power: We’re using all electricity, which in our area comes from the hydro-electric dam at Long Lake from Avista. We are tying into the grid with a net-metering system and will eventually have solar and wind power on-site for 80-100% of our energy. We will also be installing two whole-house off switches to make it easier to ensure we’re not leaving lights on. Learn more here.
We are still under construction on the Barn/House and will finish construction during the summer of 2010. We will continue to update this post as more and more details get finalized.