Some photos of the near-finished product. We are still putting finishing touches, but have Certificate of Occupancy. YAY! Related Stories - Yep – bigger is more efficient - Chipcrete Floor Experiment - Pre-hot water
I hung on the word efficiency as a cop out. Efficiency means to limit consumption of external resources – minimize waste.
How cool is elimination of the need for external energy altogether? Think of a house as a free-standing energy system – without need for external energy sources to maintain habitability and comfort.
This seems like a much better goal to me. Efficiency is wimpy.
Do you know that a good sized, 60×60 ft, house squanders enough energy as sunshine every year to add up to $73,000 as propane, or $175,000 as electricity? That’s a bunch of wasted energy.
Modern building methods create obstacles – best practice – and building codes create a trap. Modern building practices, inspired by energy code invites most buildings to squander almost ALL the energy that nature gives them.
Given the huge amount of resource that nature presents, it’s ridiculous that any house inside the the 45th parallelsneed external energy at all.
Energy isolation requirements appear as “r-factor”, “u-factor”, solar heat gain factor, SHGF. Regulations continue to reduce the amount of energy a structure can absorb from the environment. They specifically dictate the MAXIMUM amount of energy a building is allowed to absorb from the sun as SHGF.
While it makes sense to limit the maximum amount of energy a structure should lose from an internal heat source; it makes no sense to dictate how much energy can absorb, especially during cold months. Isolation is the design standard of modern housing.
The superior goal is absorption balanced with loss and storage. This is simple. If a building can store enough during time of surplus, to carry over a time of shortage, then external energy is not required.
This presentation presents a few “tricks” and a new way to design the environmental interfaces, so that your building can harvest and store energy to be energy independent, self regulating, and adaptive to sun’s position using very simple, and almost free materials.
If you’re further North, you may need more storage though.
In today’s world where everybody is super jazzed about green building you’ve probably noticed something very strange….
Why is it so hard to find a cool project to work on?
Where are all those ultra-cool green projects that ought to exist?
How come all the projects that claim to be so green are mundane, with a few solar panels, maybe some passive solar?
Why is Taos the only place they do anything really different?
Why aren’t there whole subdivisions of these new super-green dwellings that appear to be possible?
The reason is sneaky simple – nobody can finance anything very different than a conventional build because the banks don’t finance invention. If it’s new enough to be really green – banks are useless.
Anything too different, runs the risk of being different enough to be un-marketable, undesirable, toad, or bust, aka a poor credit risk.
Those Rare Builds
Very few people can actually afford to innovate because they have to do, and pay for it, it all by themselves – and blow off the banks and mortgages.
It also means there are darned few places to build the new cool stuff. Most everything is kinda novel, but not really very different, because most builders can’t stray very far from “accepted” practices, or they’ll spook lenders.
Those places, like this one, have an innovator who booted the bank to not live in a brain-damaged energy sucking, box that a bank can look at, and assess the credit risk, i.e. comfortable to sell to some other schmuck.
So all you really see is sprawling fields of track homes, with
puny energy star rated junk – moronically touted as energy savvy – or a handful of solar panels screwed to the roof in an ad hoc integration.
Today the reality of green building is pretty disappointing. It’s a joke compared to what we COULD ACHIEVE if builders didn’t have to restrict innovation to what they could convince a banker to accept.
Demand follows those who create
Venture funding drives innovation. In the real world. In the Green Building market, there is a mushrooming army of consumers hungry for new cool stuff ….
That pretty much nobody can afford to invent – without bankers on board.
The challenge is that people who want to learn how to build these cool things end up with a very limited number of places to learn.
Once the banks accept that innovations make jewels, things can change pretty fast.
Innovators must create the examples that shows that specific innovations improve instead of reduce liquidity.
After energy smart green buildings prove to be more valuable than energy dumb, because people actually pay more for them, then the banks will follow. But now, as always – banks will remain the least innovative businesses in the world.
If a building innovation is really-really new new, there are no others like it. To a banker, this is a trap – not only is the average value of a new feature – zero – it’s actually negative.
The newness makes the innovation – worth less than zero – because the uncertainty invites lenders feel insecure. This is crazy but true.
It means that structures with new features must package them carefully not to spook the uninitiated.
After awhile things become normal. CMAs accumulate and indicate that the new features new buyers actually pay more for houses with features that make them less expensive to live in. In the long run, advanced structures exhibit higher liquidity, and hence desirability.
Until this occurs, banks see only risk. It is that simple. After the value is proves out, then banks loosen up, but then only toward “proven” technology.
This is why it’s important to be sneaky and conceal the wolf in sheep clothing.
“Open source” is important because it creates building standard that everyone already knows about – or they’re a laggard. The acceptability of the open source is that everyone is invited to understand them. Nothing is secret. Those (bankers) who don’t understand – run the risk of embarrassment because they don’t even know about public domain building methods.
This embarrassment can become leverage when wielded wisely. How can these methods be really new if everybody already knows about them?
Get on Board Now
Open source is the game changer, and a market accelerator.
Fully disclosed technologies are easy to adopt because they go straight to the front.
More importantly, the people behind the open source methods go straight to the front of the market.
Just about anyone who installs a solar panel has one simple question – where should I point this darned thing? That silly sun moves around all the time.
A fixed solar panel works perfectly only when the sun sweeps through the daily horizontal alignment for maybe 10 minutes, and at the season-selected tilt angle of vertical alignment. Fixed solar collectors work their best, at rated wattage, for a few hours every year. The rest of the time – they produce less.
It didn’t take long to realize that I was way too busy, and distracted, to tweak the panel tilt every few days, and there mounting it on a pivot to follow the sun was a fantasy beyond my means.
So the panel was going to harvest way less energy than I’d hoped for – and a small fraction of the rated wattage that I’d fantasized would energize my home.
Off I went to home depot for chipboard, and the greenhouse store for reflective mylar. In another 30 minutes I had a 32 square foot mirror laid on the ground in front of my panel. After tweaking the angle, the power went up about 10% over what I was able to get by pointing the panel directly at the sun, and the average power lasted somewhat longer to last longer. The sandwich trapped the sun, and held
was about 10% more than , and stapled it to a piece of chipboard
in perfect alignment with the panel, for a few minutes every day, when the panel because thats the amount of time the sun spends in perfect alignment with the panel. The rest of the time – it still works, but not too well.
Using a portable bandsaw mill looks easy – just put the log in the cradle and cut away. Well… Not so much.
After a mountain of scrap, and probably 20 hours of unnecessary cuts – I eventually dialed in a method of efficiently cutting a log. This tutorial enables a beginner with a bandsaw mill to become efficient a lot faster than I did.