Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Building and Construction

This topic is way above my head. I am an absolute beginner, have no experience and have no immediate plans to do any building or construction myself. Still several times I stumbled across some information that I found interesting or intriguing. Take everything with a grain of salt.

There are many concepts for ecologic building materials and construction methods. Many of them try to reduce heating cost and use natural products as material. Compressed earth, in the form of bricks or filled into used tires make good walls. Compressed earth can also be combined with wood logs or bottles. A lighter combination is straw mixed with mud or straw squared covered on the outside with mud. Of course plain old wood is a common material.

Most buildings face south to absorb the maximum of sun and many use earth mass to absorb and store this free energy for heating and cooling. Some suggest a house-inside-a-house, a house with an outer shell with lots of windows and glass, again for the purpose of free/reduced heating. Buildings with grass and small vegetation growing on the roof caught my eye. Looks fantastic.

On the inside both heat storage and insulation are key concepts. Wood is a medium insulator as well as a medium heat store. Earth is both, a good store and a good insulator. Rocks are a great storage medium but a poor insulator, similar for cement. On the insulator side there are further materials like: hemp and cork. There are also special volcanic bricks that are a good insulator (similar heat resistance as wood) and hold up to pressure and weights. Furthermore there are special bricks that trap the air better and force the air to take long paths through the brick, thereby increasing drastically the insulating effect of the brick. There is a lot to think about and consider when trying to build eco-friendly.

Here are some sites to look at to grab ideas.,, Sustainable Build, a Green Building Source book, and the Open Village Construction Set (Open Source Ecology). And there is even a Green Building and Remodeling for Dummies book. A friend of mine has the book Building Green by Snell and Callahan which I found appealing.

It is such a vast topic. One will have to do lots of research before getting seriously into it.

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