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.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

All Building projects begin with infrastructure.

Now for the Tyre and Strawbale addition! 
Note the large overhanging eves. A must for passive solar and Strawbale {helps keep the water away} Like us a good home likes a good hat on it's head.

The “addition” is built with an insulated Tyre foundation and stem wall to get me above grade and post and beam with strawbale in fill above grade. It has a clearstory roof for light and passive solar. Though I could not get true south facing exposure {due to geologic obstacles} it is built with passive solar principles, ie… solar alignment, proper amount of glazing {10-14% s. facing}, overhanging eve designed to shade in winter and sun in summer, mass, as in; concrete floor and tyre {REU’s per Michael Renalds Earth Ship specs} and a lot of insulation in walls and ceiling {strawbale for walls @ R30 +/_ and R 30 for Ceiling}. Note; it is important to insulate your mass / heat sink from the earth and elements to prevent conduction & therefore retain the comfortable ambient temperature of the interior of the home. I also prefer R50 in the ceiling.I will discuss these principles further in my Strawbale Cottage Blog.

   The purpose of the addition was to house the kitchen, and bathrooms. Because we are off grid I wanted a place that would not freeze without the aid of a mechanical heater and take advantage of the abundant energy from the sun. Consequently it has never gone below 46 deg., the pipes have never frozen, and the plants love it.

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"
below grade

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