Straw bales: low tech, high potential benefit

A straw bale wall is thick, gobbling up valuable space; and heavy, requiring a sturdy foundation. But some experts estimate a bale wall to be up to three times as energy efficient as conventional framing. Over time, the savings add up.

Fire risk
Loose straw is really bad – a form of tinder. Tightly compacted straw, however, behaves like a phone book – not enough air to easily burn. Stacked bales are further compressed before plastering. Continue reading “Straw bales: low tech, high potential benefit”

Earthship Visit ! The Ultimate Green Home Building Technique?

Just pulled into “The Greater World Earthship Community”  15 miles outside of Taos New Mexico.  Driving in from the north through the high desert – it wasn’t hard to spot the Earthship community.  Lumps of ground on the north side and very organic shaped, curvelinear, buildings appear on the south. 

Earthship Taos NM Mountains

Luke Skywalker on Planet Tatooine wisked up in his hovercraft to welcome me ! Continue reading “Earthship Visit ! The Ultimate Green Home Building Technique?”

Six Alternative Methods to Build a Custom Home – Green Building – Log, ICF, Post and Beam, Rammed Earth, Straw Bale

Considering alternative ways to build your home? Most homes – over 90% – according to a recent NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) are stick built – meaning out of 2 x 4’s. As a custom home builder, I never build anything that resembles the “standard.”

According to a survey done by the NAHB in 2005, the “typical” home built in America is approximately 2200 square feet, 2 stories, 3 – 4 bedrooms, 2 full baths, powder room built on a concrete slab, uses gas forced air heat, is stick built on site (vs. modular), has a 2 car garage, vinyl siding (second place stucco), porch and a fireplace. Many “typical” practices are unique to each area of the country, such as a typical basement in the Northeast vs. a slab in the Southwest, but the overall numbers show the above example.

Continue reading “Six Alternative Methods to Build a Custom Home – Green Building – Log, ICF, Post and Beam, Rammed Earth, Straw Bale”

Passive Solar Design – The Key to Green Building

The sun is our greatest source of energy …right???

So why do we ignore the sun and build our houses without regard to how the sun affects our home?  When I purchased my first home in Los Angeles,  one of the key reasons I chose the tiny 850 sf house is because the street had lots of trees.  Many of the LA streets are barren strips of pavement with cookie cutter homes built on lots of exactly the same size, so when I saw this little home on a street filled with trees it felt like a different land.  Not only are trees beautiful and great carbon cleaners but they can be a huge help in your passive solar design! Continue reading “Passive Solar Design – The Key to Green Building”