Friday, February 27, 2015

My Green Home - Cyndi's Paradise

- a very beautiful, pleasant, or peaceful place that seems to be perfect
- a place that is perfect for a particular activity or for a person who enjoys that activity
- a state of complete happiness

Of the three properties that we considered, only one felt truly right. It met all of our requirements and then some.

My Green Home - our property
Our Property
A beautiful, 2.5 acres faces south. There is a well, septic tank, and both Internet and cell phone accessibility. We have space for a large vegetable garden and there's even room for our very own fruit orchard.

While there is a liveable structure on the land, it is an older model mobile home which has seen better days. It isn't energy efficient and wouldn't be worth fixing up. So, we made the decision to build a new home. The mobile home will provide us a place to live until the house is complete. And once the house is built, we'll disassemble the mobile home, taking care to preserve all usable parts, and then recycle them into other things.

My Green Home - the construction site
The construction site
After checking with the planning/building department to learn exactly what we could and couldn't do on the property, we chose the spot for our home.

It was a priority to consider nature in all of our actions. We chose a construction site which was relatively free of trees. Even so, a few had to come down. Trees are fabulous at absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere. But here's the thing ... when they are cut, all of that stored CO2 is released.

Milling lumber on site
Milling lumber on site was the most cost effective
The trees which were taken down were milled on site. We constructed a solar drier to season the lumber and, once it's ready, will use the lumber, inside the house, for doors, shelves, cabinets, trim, and even office desks. Nothing will be wasted.

The next task was to design the home. I'm lucky ... my "other half", "Art", designs homes for a living. He pays special attention to things like how the air flows through a home, how the sun can help heat our environment during the winter, and using space efficiently.

Our 1600 square foot home will be passive solar with an open floor plan. A passive solar home uses the angle of the sun to heat the home during the winter and blocks it during the hot summer months.

Photovoltaic panels will be placed on the roof. They'll generate power which will be sold back to the grid. As batteries become more efficient, we'll be able to upgrade our system to be totally off the grid.

After careful consideration, we chose a controversial material for the construction of the home ... ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms). If you're not familiar with ICFs, they are basically Styrofoam forms which are filled with concrete.

We all know the nightmare of Styrofoam ... it never biodegrades. In a landfill that's a real problem but as a building material, it's a valuable quality. Concrete, while not the most environmental material, does have amazing insulating properties. Together with the forms, the R-Value makes this system one of the most efficient building methods around. And, it is not subject to pest or weather problems experienced with other types of construction.

We're now well underway with the shell of the house.

In future posts, I'll share more about the building process and my experiences as a property owner.