The Strawbale Dilemma, Monitoring Energy, Ghost of Solyndra, + Material of the Future

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See the original post here: The Strawbale Dilemma, Monitoring Energy, Ghost of Solyndra, + Material of the Future

September Month in Review [Outline]

It’s been another month, and here’s another outline of coverage from September. From newly published posts this month, I noticed that our articles about net-zero energy Grow Community and the not-so-big timber-frame home were the most popular. For a visual look at what’s being shared, also make sure to check out Jetson Green on Pinterest.

Innovative Prefab & Other Projects:

Technology & Products Innovation:

Know-How & Other Green News:

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Visit link: September Month in Review [Outline]


Passivhaus Door Handmade in the USA

Hammer and Hand, a high-performance builder with offices in Seattle and Portland, recently announced the production of ultra-efficient custom doors for use with Passive House projects.  The doors are designed and built in southeast Portland to the rigorous requirements of Passive House and help project teams avoid a potential economic premium and the carbon emissions associated with importing a similar product across the Atlantic from a European supplier.  The company’s first door was installed at their Karuna House project, which is pursuing PHIUS+ Passive House, Minergie-P-ECO, LEED for Homes Platinum, and net-zero energy designations (which I’ll explore in a subsequent article).  More about custom Passive House doors.

[+] More details of Hammer and Hand’s inaugural door at Karuna House.

Credits: Hammer and Hand. 

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take a look at the site here

The First Passive House in Salt Lake City

This will be the first certified Passive House in the city limits of Salt Lake City (not to take anything away from the Breezeway House located outside the city in Salt Lake County), if certification by PHIUS goes as planned. I visited the home on a nice sunny day a couple weeks ago, but the photos of this beginning photographer didn’t turn out as I’d originally expected.* That said, I hope you can get a feeling for the contemporary design and some of the materials and technology that went into this ultra-efficient home.

Ruby House, located in a historic district in the Avenues, was designed by Brach Design Architecture (Dave Brach) and built by Benchmark Modern (Garth Hare), who you may recall, depending on how long you’ve been a reader, also built the Maryfield House.

Homes in the Avenues can be colorful or aged, or some combination of the two, and I think it’s safe to say that a boxy modern home just wouldn’t be welcome by many. Yet I think Brach was able to deliver a contemporary, energy efficient design while still respecting what’s going on in the neighborhood.

The owners agreed, “[Dave] optimized the placement of our house to take advantage of natural lighting, surrounding views, while maintaining privacy. Dave also considered and respected the surrounding architecture of the historic neighborhood and worked closely with the historic landmark commission to obtain approval of the plans,” according to a testimonial on Brach’s site.

For the Passive House geeks, you may interested to know what’s inside: a Zehnder Comfoair 350 HRV, Fujitsu air-to-air heat pumps (7kBtu upstairs and 9kBtu main level), a AO Smith high-efficiency water heater, Verve lighting controls, and Energate 1202 windows.

The build includes Logix ICF foundation walls, Senergy EIFS stucco, Old Virginia Brick thin bricks in Chatham Gray, Accoya cladding, Certainteed dense-pack fiberglass insulation, exterior EPS foam, and a white vinyl roof. There’s also an abundance of rich wood detail including maple stair treads, rift-sawn oak cabinets, maple veneer MDF ceiling, maple flooring and door trim, and a front and back porch soffit of marine-grade mahogany plywood.

It’s really a handsome green home. Architect Brach said to me, “I do believe this is something downtown Salt Lake City and the avenues historic district can be proud of,” and I can say first hand that I definitely agree.

[+] More photos of the Ruby House at Dave Brach Architecture.

*I have a new DSLR that I’m trying to learn how to use, particularly with indoor photos. I’m reading all sorts of material to take better shots in the future.  Don’t hate the project for my photos! – Photo credits:

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How to Remodel Using Reclaimed Wood Flooring – Wood Trends 2013 (Part 3 of 5)

Last week I shared how reclaimed wood flooring can suit almost any style, and this week I want to continue with the style topic to discuss the newest wood trends in flooring.  Here are some “trends” to keep in mind while remodeling with reclaimed wood flooring.

Custom Stains:
Using wood stains to create a unique look is extremely popular at the moment.  Light woods such as European Beech can be stained to virtually any color while retaining the warmth of the wood grain.  And using a stain or toner on a multi-species product like Viridian’s Jakarta Market Blend can bring the beauty of a reclaimed look into a more focused color spectrum to build the rest of an interior around.

Whitewashing and pickling are both glazing processes that do not penetrate wood like stain does. Professional interior designers use this process to create custom translucent finishes for a variety of casual looks.

Old wood floors have a wonderful texture about them; over years of use they earn random defects that convey personality rather than wear.  New wood floors with a distressed look have been and will continue to be popular.  Of course, when using reclaimed wood there is no faux finish; the distressing is more natural in appearance and every mark on the floor has a real story behind it.

In the past only the wealthiest homes could afford to add borders and inlays to their wood flooring. Today, however, it is far less labor intensive to add these visual ornaments to reclaimed wood flooring. From a simple border of a lighter wood to a complex pattern, there are countless ways to customize a wood floor using inlays.

Herringbone Pattern:
Perhaps the newest trend is the use of large scale herringbone patterns in wood floors.  From whitewashed patina to dark chocolaty browns, the herringbone pattern tends to dovetail with the use of wider face rustic material.

Next week: How to Remodel Using Reclaimed Wood Flooring – Sourcing the Wood

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they said

32 Almost Off The Grid Prefab Homes

As of this writing, this new book about ultra-green prefab homes is #1 on Amazon in the Sustainable & Green Design and Energy Efficient Design categories of books. With Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid, author Sheri Koones advances the green prefab movement with a discussion of 32 energy-efficient prefabricated homes using more than 200 photographs and sidebar detail of various construction elements.

This is Koones’ third book in the Prefabulous series. Publisher Abrams Books explains the concept of an “almost” off-the-grid home, as follows:

Taking energy from the grid when necessary and returning any excess energy produced, almost-off-the-grid homes function on a fraction of the energy required by most houses, and additionally are more comfortable, healthier, quieter inside, and far cheaper to operate. As energy costs continue to rise, the almost-off-the-grid house proves its worth.

You’re seen some of these homes, if you’re a reader of this site, or if you’ve browsed the prefab archives — for example, the red prefab on the cover is an ultra-efficient home in Belfast, Maine — but there’s some new material in the book, too. Buy all three on Amazon if you wish:

[+] Prefabulous by Sheri Koones – $25.00.
[+] Prefabulous + Sustainable by Sheri Koones – $25.00.
[+] Prefabulous + Almost Off the Grid by Sheri Koones – $24.95 – new!

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Energy Efficiency is Critical in Home Design

The housing market is “starting to gain traction,” according to AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, although people aren’t rushing to add home theaters and the like.

Rather, “home features and products attracting attention are generally focused on energy efficiency or accessibility around the home, as well as wireless systems and low-maintenance, sustainable products,” per Mr. Baker based on findings from the AIA’s Home Design Trends Survey in the second quarter of 2012.

  • 66% of respondents report the popularity of adding insulation in the attic
  • 52% of respondents report the popularity of energy management systems
  • Popularity continues to increase for solar panels, geothermal heating and cooling, water reclamation systems, triple-glazed windows, tankless water heaters, water-saving devices, and recycled or salvaged materials.

[+] More of the Results of the AIA Home Design Trends Survey.

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a fantastic read

Reclaimed Barnwood Bricks for the Home

You’ve seen tile that looks like a wood plank, and here’s a similar kind of variation on a theme: wood in the shape of a brick.  Barnwood Bricks is a patented line of hardwood flooring and cladding products made from reclaimed wood in Tennessee.  The bricks install kind of like tile with a special glue and grouting system.  They are available in three basic dimensions — 4″ x 8″, 5″ x 10″, and 6″ x 12″ — and thicknesses — 3/4″, 5/8″, and 1/2″ — with available wood types of pine, oak, poplar, cherry, walnut, and chestnut.  Contact Barnwood Bricks with square footage/dimensions for a quote.

[+] More about Barnwood Bricks and to Request a Quote.

Credits: Barnwood Bricks.

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great post to read

High-End Sustainability, Big City Tiny House, Easy Green Prefab, + Comfortable Efficiency

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click here

Net-Zero Energy Homes in Grow Community

This is Grow Community near downtown Winslow on Bainbridge Island in Washington.  The first three model homes — Ocean, Everett, and Aria — are finished and work is moving forward for the next 24 homes and two 10-unit rowhouse apartments.  The eight-acre project is the first residential One Planet Community in North America (issued by U.K. non-profit BioRegional).  However, in addition to this recognition, the aim is net-zero homes and an entirely net-zero energy community by 2020.

Grow Community was designed by Davis Studio Architecture + Design, creators of PieceHomes (the Modern Living Showhouse at Dwell on Design 2011) and developed by Asani.

There will be community open spaces, gardens, and an urban farm program, as well as car- and bike-share programs.  In addition, residents won’t necessarily need a car in this place.  After about a five-minute bike ride, one can take a 35-minute ferry to downtown Seattle, if that’s where work is.

Grow Community Aria - exterior
Grow Community Everett - exterior
Grow Community Ocean - exterior

When all is said and done, Grow Community will have 50 single family homes, 81 rental units, a central community building, as well as some commercial spaces.  While the first three homes were built in a conventional manner, the plan is to transition to modular assemblies going forward.

The homes will be partially prefabricated with wall and roof panels built in an off-site factory.  Once the shell is assembled on-site, finish work is then completed, and the homes are ready in about 3-4 months total.

Each home supports enough photovoltaic panels to provide all the energy needed for the residents.  To do that, the green homes are built with super-insulated walls and roofs, highly efficient windows, mini-split heat pumps, heat recovery ventilators, energy efficient appliances, etc.  They’re also nearly PVC-free and outfitted with sustainably harvested wood siding, low-VOC paints, stains, and sealants, and water-efficient fixtures.

[+] More about sustainable homes in Grow Community on Bainbridge Island.

Photo credits: Anthony Rich, courtesy of Davis Studio Architecture + Design.

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