green materials

Lead safety

oldpaintLead poisoning can affect children’s developing nervous systems, causing learning disabilities and behavioral problems. Lead is also harmful to adults. Ecologic is a lead safe renovator. We can assess your home for lead and other hazards.

The most common way people are exposed to lead is through dust from old paint from 1978 and earlier. Renovation projects can disturb lead-based paint and create dust and endanger you and your family. A lead safe professional can check for lead-based paint in your home, make risk assessments and determine if your home has lead hazards. If your home was built before 1978, you should assume that lead paint has been used on walls, moldings, and doors. Even though the lead paint may be coated with lead-free paint that is no peeling,  renovation work can create a hazard if not done properly. The work area should be contained with heavy plastic so that dust does not escape. Floors and any furniture that cannot be moved should be covered. Doors and vents should be sealed off. This will help prevent dust or debris from getting outside the work area. A lead safe renovator will minimize dust by misting areas before sanding or scraping; scoring paint before separating components; and prying and  pulling apart components instead of breaking them.  After the work is completed the area should be cleaned up thoroughly using a HEPA vacuum attachment, followed by wet mopping with plenty of rinse water. (more…)

Eco-Cottage: Slate roof installed

100_6859Slate 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.

100_6866Yes, 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.

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Metal Roof Installed

IMG_0523 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.

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Clay Plaster

ClayWe offer a natural clay plaster product.  Clay plaster has a number of advantages over paint. It is a natural product, found in abundance and easily resourced; it is not a petroleum by-product and its use does not help sustain the oil and gas industry; it is non-toxic; it regulates indoor humidity by absorbing excess moisture in times of high humidity and releasing that moisture when it is dry;  it naturally resists mildew and mold growth, and it breathes, that is, it allows  moisture vapor to travel through the walls so that moisture does not build up inside the wall system.

Eco-Cottage: walls and roof

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Business has been great, so we’ve hardly had time to work on our own projects, but finally we got the walls up.

After the foundation was laid, we started on the frame and walls and roof. 2″ x 10″ studs were used in the walls and roof to allow extra space for insulation. Thicker walls are also more aesthetically appealing. (more…)

Sheep Wool Insulation

woolThe Environtmental & Aesthetic Advantages Of Using Wool Insulation

As an insulator, sheep’s wool has inherent structural advantages over synthetic materials. The spring-like properties of wool fiber give elasticity and resilience. Tightly packed wool will naturally expand inside the wall over time rather than shrink and sink.

Wool has a high moisture threshold and moisture-retention rate, which provides excellent natural resistance to flame, combustion and/or ignition.

Wool’s hydroscopic properties allow it to both absorb and release water vapor, modulating extremes in humidity. Wool can absorb up to 40% of its own weight without feeling damp. As it absorbs moisture, wool gets warmer and avoids the risk of condensation. If exposed to moisture, fiberglass insulation begins to fail to insulate properly.

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Wool is anti-bacterial as well as non-allergenic and non-toxic, and it has been used for bedding, clothing and all types of insulation and floor coverings for thousands of years.

Wool absorbs sound and dampens echo.

Wool absorbs common pollutants, i.e. formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide etc., and prevents their re-introduction into the environment.

A lot of wool is not used by the sheep farming industry. The wool of meat sheep is usually discarded. Ecologic Construction purchases some to this material that would otherwise be destroyed. We also maintain a small flock, who also work as lawn mowers and manure producers.

woolinwallsLoose-fill fiber compared to bats

Fiber insulation comes in basically two forms: batts and loose-filled. Our product is loose-filled.

Loosed filled has a higher R value and is less expensive to produce than batt insulation. Loose-fill is one-size-fits every application. When wool is washed and cleaned it is already in perfect loose-fill condition and no further processing is needed.

Most loose-fill insulation is blown-in because most loose-fill insulation is dusty, messy or the material is an irritant to workers. Loose-fill wool can be hand-packed into a wall cavity. Hand-packing may take about as much time as blowing in insulation when you consider the time it takes to rent and set up the machine, which takes two people to operate. Although the cost per pound of sheep wool insulation is higher compared to other loose-fill insulations, like cellulose and rockwool, sheep wool is a far superior, minimally processed product that has  no embodied energy since fleece is a natural by-product.

Preparing wool

Shearing is done on clean rubber stall mats and the fleeces are hung over the fence to dry out for a few hours, then they are stored in clear plastic bags until washing time.

The fleeces are washed in a mild citrus or lavender soap twice, then rinsed twice, then they are dipped in a borax solution for a final rinse. Borax (the old fashion laundry additive) is used to give additional fire resistance and pest control. The fleeces are laid on screens to dry in the sun. Next the fleece is “picked,” that is pulled apart, using a “Lil Dynamo” hand-operated machine.

There are suppliers who offer sheep wool insulation products, but these typically have poly materials blended in.

WoolRoll with Poly       Denim                      Eco-logic loose fill wool

R19                                       R19                         R19-R25, can be custom packed to desired R value
5.25″ thick                          5.5″ thick               comparable
24″ wide                             24.25″ wide           comparable
12′ long                              12′ long                   comparable
$62.30                                $160.00                    $130-170 depending on desired R value

EcoCottage: foundation

floorAfter many years of planning and designing, in the spring of 2010 we finally starting laying the foundation of an “eco-cottage,” a little structure that will be designed to heat and cool itself without much help at all from machines. We decided to build on a hill for aesthetic reasons and also to reduce the threat of moisture  as much as possible. Moisture is a problem for every home and prevention is the best cure. There should be no place for water to stand around a home. Gravity should be taking it away from the basement/foundation walls. (more…)