Green Home Building and Sustainable Architecture

Sustainable architecture is an exciting and important field, with many people reviving traditional methods of building and others creating innovations to established practices. Kelly Hart, webmaster of the popular website www.greenhomebuilding.com, posts text and photos featuring what he discovers from around the world.

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Location: Crestone, Colorado, United States

Kelly Hart has been involved with green building concepts for much of his life. He has also worked in various fields of communication media, including still photography, cinematography, animation, video production and now website development. Kelly has lived in an earthbag/papercrete home that he built and consults about sustainable building design.

August 27, 2005

Volumetric, Continuous Mixing of Cement and other Materials

I just posted some information about the possibilities of using volumetric, continuous mixing technologies to not only mix concrete on-site, but also a wide range of other, perhaps greener materials as well. For instance, earthen materials for adobe, cob, or rammed earth projects could be mixed and placed at the building site almost instantaneously. All that is needed is the equipment to do so and stockpiles of the ingredients. Other applications of this technology could be in conjuction with the computerized creation of entire houses, using CAD files and robot-assisted nozzles. It is a brave new world! For more information see http://www.greenhomebuilding.com/manufactured_systems.htm#volumetric.

August 17, 2005

Federal Solar Tax Credits

For the first time since 1985, homeowners in the United States who install solar energy systems will receive a tax credit from the federal government worth 30% of the system cost, capped at $2,000. Businesses that purchase solar equipment will also receive a credit worth 30% of the system cost. These tax credits, in the recently passed energy bill, will bring solar power costs over the tipping point in many areas of the country.

According to Rhone Resch, President of the Solar Energy Industries Association, "With the solar provisions in this Energy Bill, Congress is supporting individual Americans who make a real contribution towards U.S. energy independence. Installing solar energy on your roof is one of the most meaningful steps an individual can take to reduce our reliance on foreign sources of energy and help declare energy independence. Now solar comes with a more affordable price tag, and more consumers will take a step towards energy independence by choosing solar power. That means cleaner air, more jobs, and greater energy security for all."

August 12, 2005

Sustainable Housing Relief

In recent months I have had the opportunity to engage in many conversations with Dr. Owen Geiger of the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building (www.grisb.org), and mostly we have talked about ways to create inexpensive, durable homes for people around the globe who are in need of shelter. This has been sparked by the obvious need of victims of the Tsunami in SE Asia to rebuild their lives with adequate homes.

Many of the solutions that have either been proposed or implemented for this purpose have been too expensive, too technological in nature, too impermanent, or culturally inappropriate. Especially in flood-prone areas, we have focused on the use of earthbags filled with locally available materials as the primary building block. These can withstand the onslaught of wind, water, and earthquakes without deteriorating, are inexpensive and simple to construct, and can be used to fashion many different styles of buildings.

Owen has pulled together a team of specialists (architects, engineers, educatiors, etc.) who are willing to help put these ideas into practicle designs that can be built wherever needed. I am proud to be one of these team members. We are currently working on a simple manual that is primarily visual to help convey the steps required for building with earthbags.

I have been in contact with the coordinator of Peace Corpse volunteers in El Salvador, and may be going there to conduct a workshop on this method of building. Owen plans to take his expertise to SE Asia soon, and is looking forward to engaging in hands-on projects in that region. Our motive is to introduce these ideas in places where they can be implemented and then carried on by the locals after we leave. I am sure that I will be posting more about all of this as time goes on.