when a home dreams green it dreams strawBale
Sustainable living for a Sustainable future, for when a home dreams green it dreams strawbale.
From the beginning it was our intention to build ecologically friendly, structurally sound, naturally efficient homes, using a minimum amount of embodied energy. These methods resulted in a home that is comfortable, artistic, and modern while minimizing the monthly and ever increasing utility bill. To that end I believe we succeeded.
After a decade and 8 homes, my goal now, is to promote the continuance of the strawbale paradigm. I wish to use this blog as a vehicle to perpetuate the ideals that we can reduce our 'footprint’. That we do have options that don’t include following the path of oil. That sometimes the best solutions are the simplest ones.
In the end, the big bad wolf, he huffed and he puffed and he huffed and he puffed and.........The 3 little pigies sat comfortably in their home of straw, completely unaware of the danger out there. The wolf contemplated, totally in awe. Perhaps it weren’t so bad to have a home made of straw.
©gregory vroom walter 11/29/11
I believe that the most comfortable home I have ever been in is a Strawbale home.
It is not my intention to teach everything there is to know about strawbale, for there are plenty of books already written that do this quite well, of which I will recommend. Rather my intention is to share the knowledge I have gained from designing and building eight homes that have all performed beyond expectation. I hope you find my posts and pages informative, enjoyable and helpful.
Friday, December 20, 2013
Friday, August 23, 2013
The Thomas Residence
For our second Strawbale Building in Smeltertown, we built a 1640 sq foot home for some more folks wanting to lower their ”Carbon Footprint”. The home is part of a piece of land that is also home to the Cox / Hvoslef project. It features, a variety of historic buildings that comprise of an old homestead. The home incorporates traditional natural plasters inside and out, an adobe earth troumb wall, in-floor radiant heat, solar domestic hot water, and 3000-Watt Solar Grid Inter tie system. This home also features a passive solar radiant air floor influenced by the work of James kachadorian’s in his book “The Passive Solar House”.
Built in 2008-2009; The Thomas’s Home has very clean lines. They wanted a modern, European look. To accomplish this we used no trim for baseboard, doors, or ceiling. The result; a nice clean simple finish. This Strawbale home is Energy Star Rated
Merry Cox and Eric Hvoslef’s Residence is an artists home with an artists touch. Definitely the most fun we’ve been able to have to date.! This pad not only has all the amenities that you expect from The Strawbale Cottage But cool touches through out. Such as; The grill of a 57? Chevy pick up with the chrome arrows saying Apache integrated in the main rooms plaster walls. The headlights work too! Tadalakt style shower walls, an old steering wheel incorporated into the truth window among other cool details.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Alfredo Moser: Bottle light inventor proud to be poorBy Gibby Zobel BBC World Service, Uberaba, Brazil
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Micheal Renalds books Earthship’s 1&2 Had a huge influence on me and in my opinion a must read for anyone interested in sustainability, green and natural building etc… His concepts are sound and harmonize well with the permaculture ethos.
|It is important that you keep your |
courses on the
In this photo we are building up our corners. Because I wanted my corners to be at right angles the tires would not overlap so we poured concrete 1/2 tires and tied them into the tires with rebar.
|jumping Jack Tyre, it's a gas, gas, gas!|this is about 500 sq. ft. and took a work party
of friends a long weekend to accomplish what
you see here.Oh! and a lot of beer.
At this instance be sure to install a good French drain.
|Zobbe in "The Machine" excavating leach field w/addition excavation in foreground and site level for grade.|
A word about Septic Systems: In my opinion a well built septic is a composting system. The tank captures the solids as well as acting as a grease trap, is periodically pumped and then composted at a municipal sewer site. The effluent then gravity feeds into the leach field where it can then naturally filter itself back into the aquifer. If properly installed and maintained these systems will last well over the 20 year span they are rated for. I like the concept of Composting toilet's, and grey water systems and have personally experimented with humanour and have been responsible for maintaining large volume composting toilets for Summit Huts. These systems require lots of hands on maintenance and when not functioning properly result in handling raw sewage.! Although you may be up for the task the reality can be quite over whelming and is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. As for grey water systems the same hold true, and again, if not properly maintained will result in an anaerobic system that will not be healthy for you or your plants. Plan Wisely, not with idealistic lenses that may or may not be based in reality. Having said all that, I do believe that if we all dealt with our own feces/waste the world would be a better place.
|Septic Tank Hole. if it caves, your dead!|
All Building projects begin with infrastructure. $10,000.00's of dollars will be invested in things that become buried, never to be seen again until something goes wrong. Plan wisely!
|line from septic tank to leach field|
Infrastructure involves; excavation, sewer, main water trunk lines, electric main, among other things.
In this case, over the years I have dug and buried over 3000' of water line for both the gravity well system, and gravity fed spring.
A Solar powered low flow well pump can typically pump up to 200' vertical feet from the static water line in the well. As our static line is 30 ft below grade that allows us to potentially pump 170' up. In this case we ran a 1/2" line up to a 1500 g buried cistern that is located 80 vertical feet above the cabin. Now, a home needs to function on a min. of about 30-35 psi and up to 65 psi. In a gravity feed situation your psi is determined by dividing the vertical drop from the water source by 2.3----. Since our drop was 80' divided by 2.3 that gives us a psi at the faucet of approximately 35 psi. and our shower, toilet, faucets, filtration system, all function fine with that pressure, thus eliminating the need of a power eating pressure tank for the home. Important in an off grid situation if you have the elevation to work with.
Our spring functions in much the same way! At the source we have a 2 foot dia. by 4' in length perforated culvert buried vertically in the ground. The perforated section is in the top two feet with no perforations in the bottom 2 feet. This allows water to seep in through the perforations and then the bottom 2 ft. act as a sediment catch. At 2 feet down is the water outlet. the top of the culvert is then covered with a semi-permanent top with plastic sheeting expanding over the ground in all directions topped with gravel to prevent surface water from infiltrating the spring. since earth ie... gravel, sand, etc.. is the best filter this works quite well for keeping the water potable. For an easily read reference on how to do these sort of systems see: http://shop.realgoods.com/The-Home-Water-Supply-p/80205.htm I Used an earlier version of this book to help me design our system.
|hand dug elec. trench. must be 18"|
After pullin out the unfinished dry wall and insulation in the gable's and ceiling, then cleaning out the hardened rodent piss and skat [this was 1994 the year of hantavirus]
it became obvious that in order to prevent rodent infiltration we needed to pour a floor. also, the bottom course of logs as they were on the ground were rotten. had to go. we hand dug a footer/foundation and poured a mono-slab concrete floor. that was my first attempt at flat work. one of the cement truck drivers froze up on our road and then got stuck. we didn't finish the pour until midnight in what was the first snow of fall.
This place was run down, I mean seriously run down. The cabin, an old miners cabin from 1880’s was, for lack of a better description, a wildlife refuge with every known animal in the region either livin, huntin, and defecating in there. That’s how porous the place was. And so it began, the openin of the can.-------enjoy the worms.
As you can see in this photo, though not as well as I’d like, that the chinking like everything else was in bad shape or non-existent and In fact had not been done since 1907. We know this because newspapers were used to fill in the gaps between the logs and were from Portland Maine dated 1907. When re-chinking I had found a recipe in the Complete Book Of Cordwood Masonry House building: The Earthwood Method by Rob Roy (Jun 30, 1992) .The recipe consisted of a typical masonry mix of sand, lime, Portland cement, but with the added ingredient of sawdust soaked in water and added to the mix. The mix was just right when you could make a snowball, throw it in the air, and upon landing only slumped a little bit but still held together. The sawdust helped with elasticity, and slowed the drying which improved the curing. After 19 years it is still holding strong! I would recommend this recipe!
|Note the orbs. This is a truly spiritual place.|
|My Wife Terri. Master Plasterer, and Painter!|
|all the finish details are recycled or reused from |
previous job sites or salvage yards.
|another successful back country pour.|
Because of the elevation in relationship to the addition I would have a drainage problem. To remedy this I flashed with metal the first 24" of the bedroom walls.
Note the evidence of 2" blue board at the foundation level and the over lapping flashing for drainage and water protection.
After flashing, I then insulated the exterior with 2" rigid. The walls were built of two by fours, consequently it could only be insulated to R13 with fiberglass. by adding the rigid on the outside I now achieved a R value of 23 with no thermal breaks.
Note the drainage pipe in the above photo. That would be used to drain water underneath the breeze way that is not yet built.
I had to do the same to
the foyer on the west side of the cabin
This is before I had learned about Natural Plasters.