Eventually our standards for what is considered “sustainable” will have to actually be sustainable. As long as we, as a society, are not recycling all our wastes, as nature does, our practices are not sustainable over the long term.
Nathan Roy at Ecologic Construction is currently designing one of the first residential onsite waste water systems that is truly sustainable. It is not a composting toilet! It is a much cleaner, more efficient better solution. (more…)
Slate roofs are by far the best choice, as long as the supporting structure has been planned to handle the extra weight. Slate is beautiful, durable, and ecologically sustainable.
Yes, slate is an expensive material to purchase, time-consuming and expensive to install, but a slate roof will last for a century and more with proper maintenance. Considering the long-term value of slate, it is probably the least expensive choice for your roof. An asphalt roof will need to be replaced every ten to twenty years, but your slate roof will only require minimal maintenance every twenty years or so.
This tall shed was made from posts and rafters recycled from an old pheasant coop. The roof is Galvalume. We sided it south-facing so that we can put solar panels on it. The siding is pine shiplap. The shed was constructed to be able to move easily. The bottom plate is made of 6×6 skids, sitting on a 10 inch gravel base.
The dimensions are 12 x 20′ and 15′ high at the peak.
The roof on our two-story Millerton house project is made of 22 gauge Galvalume, Fabral manufactured, with a high percentage of recycled post-consumer metals, making this material an ecologically sustainable choice. The paint warranty is about 45 years, and with proper maintenance this roof could last a hundred years.
The quarter inch steel T-straps tying the posts to the second floor main girder. They are drilled with 5/8ths square head bolts for a train trestle appearance. These were made locally by a traditional blacksmith.
The two-story house project in Millerton is progressing nicely. Here you see the new construction being attached to an existing barn. We are using efficient framing techniques–insulated headers, seals between all plates and sills–to minimize thermal bridging and subsequent energy loss. Also our efficient framing layout has really minimized waste; we’re not filling up the dumpsters very quick on this job.
Mid-July we began a new whole house construction project in Millerton. We took down an existing one-story structure built in the 1950s, modified the existing foundation, and began to install the first floor.
The front door is a full three inches thick, made of cedar. We added cedar trims and sills. Attention to detail makes all the difference in a construction project. Special care is taken to give the sills just the right angle to shed water. The construction crew has enjoyed working with cedar, which cuts cleanly and has a pleasant scent. Working on a number of renovation jobs over the years, we have seen proof that cedar performs better than “sustainably harvested” wood that is coming on the market now and used as trims. After five to tens years, homeowners have experienced rot in this product. Part of the problem is that this “manufactured” product is joined together to make long lengths and moisture gets into the wood through these joints. (more…)
This is a passive solar outhouse design that we’re working on to use on our job sites. (In the background there is an unfinished shed project.) The outhouse uses the heat of the sun to kill pathogens and evaporate water. Inside there is a normal ceramic toilet and a holding tank of fresh water. Dual containers in the drying unit can be alternated, making disposal of the dry compost end product easy.