Studio Ideas and Inspiration

Sustainable home tour

Posted in interesting projects, studio 2a_2009 by Sarah Gelbard on 12 October 2009


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During my thanksgiving holiday back home I went on a tour of a sustainable home. Now this was not any regular sustainable home, but one designed and built as a regular/everyday residential house.  I was able to see some of the new technologies placed in situations where the objective was to implement these new energy efficient materials into houses that both you and I could live in (while incorporating affordable costs).  The tour was very inspiring and I was able to apply alot of the knowledge I have learned about my Solar Umbrella House to a real life situation.  It was cool to see first hand how we can be more ‘green’ ourselves in our own homes. Some features include:

-The upper structure is not made with traditional roof trusses that you normally see as part of the roof.  They use beams (slightly more expensive) with foam insulated fibre board, which has enough structural rigidity that trusses are not needed (and that represents a cost saving, and environmental saving – less wood).  It also creates more open or utilizable space that would otherwise be wasted (our entire attic at home is in essence wasted space.

-The roof is flat and allows rainwater from the upper roof to be directed to a small garden (either flowers or herbs) on top of the garage roof.  This insulates the garage from extreme summer heat.  Excess water from the roof is drained and directed to a cistern.

-The foundations were not poured concrete, but were made with  Durisol insulated concrete forms, made from cement-bonded wood fiber material that has only natural ingredients. It is composed of specially graded recycled waste wood (100% clean, natural softwood lumber). This wood is first chipped into a wood fiber. It is then mineralized and bonded together with Portland cement. This Durisol material is then molded into large blocks.  Thermal insulating mass effects are maximized by positioning the insulated material towards the exterior, resulting in additional insulating energy efficiency that is not possible with other types of insulated concrete forms. R values range between R-14 and R-28.

-One of the houses has a different type of solar panels installed on the roof.  They are not the traditional glass panels, but these are ones where the panels actually form part of the roof membrane.  They are a frameless, flat roof membrane that is lightweight but waterproof.  A small air space under the panels allow air to circulate behind the panels to help keep them cool in the very hot summer months since the efficiency of the panels decrease in extreme heat.  The other thing they mentioned for which I have no photos is that the windows are glazed and treated, but they have different treatments depending on their exposure.  In other words, South facing windows may be triple pane, e-glazed with Argon or Krypton gas, while North facing windows are not glazed at all to allow maximum light transfer.

Please explore the site to see some of the features of these houses.

Originally posted by Kristen


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