Arctic Sea Ice : Forum

AGW in general => Walking the walk => Topic started by: Lucas Durand on March 04, 2013, 12:43:17 AM

Title: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 04, 2013, 12:43:17 AM
I'm into "green" building - energy efficient design and construction and I thought I'd open a thread for people to share information on the subject.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 04, 2013, 03:06:11 AM
Are there any forum members here with Passivhaus experience?
In particular I am very interested in design and building technique used in Europe (as it differs greatly from here in North America).

Though I don't buy into the hassle of official certification, I do believe the Passivhaus folks have the right angle - conservation first, "gee-wizardry" second.

I have been working on my own project, partly inspired by the PH standard, which I have been detailing here:
http://ourhouseuponmoosehill.blogspot.ca/ (http://ourhouseuponmoosehill.blogspot.ca/)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 04, 2013, 03:42:05 AM
Hi, Lucas. Yes, I'm planning on building a Passivhaus (non-certified). According to my calculations we - my wife, daughter and I - will need about 4000 to 4500 kWh a year to cover all our residential energy needs. I'm still in doubt about a couple of things, having multiple options for things like heating and hot water, and also planning our PV solar array. I have some ideas for ventilation with heat recovery, combined with a glasshouse, etc, etc.

I'm a bit busy right now, but I'll try and post some of my ideas, and some images of our design in the next day or two. I read your blog from back to front a while ago and found it very inspiring.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 04, 2013, 04:11:28 PM
Hi Neven.
It's always good to hear that someone has gotten something useful from my blog.
I've been taking a break from posting new material to it lately, but I hope to get back to it again soon.

Certainly there is plenty to think about when planning for a new house...
Particularly true if you are contemplating incorporating the types of systems you mention.
When I was still in the planning/design phase, I found it helpful to define certain themes that I wanted to stick to.
The main theme I stuck to was resilience.

I look forward to seeing what your plans are, but don't worry about making a priority out of it.
I know what it's like to have to constantly juggle responsibilities with a wide array of personal interests.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: gfwellman on March 04, 2013, 08:24:13 PM
Lucas, I went to your (web) site yesterday and I'm wowed - congratulations on such an amazing project.  I have two questions so far.
1.  Can you elaborate a bit on how the inner and outer stud walls are joined?  Do the floor and ceiling joists cross both?  What are the plywood gussets and are they vertical or horizontal?
2.  It sounds like you put insulation in the "between" space as well as in each stud wall.  Did I understand that correctly?
Thanks!
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 04, 2013, 10:04:21 PM
Hi gfwellman,
Thanks, it's been a long time in the planning and the making.

To answer your questions:
The inner and outer walls are joined together by the gussets and by a 3/4" plywood sill plate at the bottom.
The gussets themselves were cut from 3/4" plywood.
The "between" space was made 3 1/2" deep so that "off-the-shelf" 2x4 insulation could be fit in there (in addition to the insulation that goes between the inner and outer studs).
Total thermal resistance for the assembly is ~R42.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 06, 2013, 06:20:06 PM
Okay, I'm going to try and write a couple of comments that explain my plans for the house we're going to build this summer. This is basically how the house will look from the outside:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-0jz6uOkKDfY/UTd1iMgmzII/AAAAAAAAASc/1MZvrIDe45s/s800/Entwurf%2520Au%25C3%259Fen.jpg)

And from the inside:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-pJHH55tSUn8/UTd1iekURVI/AAAAAAAAASg/iYrYyQY24b8/s800/Entwurf%2520Innen.jpg)

Hauptgebäude stands for 'main building', and Zubau is the extension. The main building has an area of 85-90 square metres (900 square feet) and will be insulated to the Passivhaus-standard, the extension and the attic will be insulated as well, but not as good as the main building.

The outer wall of the main building will be approximately 40 cm thick (16 inches). From outside to inside: 2-3 cm lime plaster, 2.4 cm rough wooden planks, 30 cm insulation (probably cellulose) between wooden beams or T-joists, 1.5-2 cm Oriented Strand Board, 2-3 cm loam plaster.

The insulation value of elements is called U-Wert in German and it says something about the thermal transmission (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_transmittance) of an element. The Passivhaus standard requires an U-Wert of 0.15 W/(m²·K) or lower. The outer walls of our house have an U-Wert of 0.11-0.12 W/(m²·K).

In the US they use the R-value (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-value_%28insulation%29), right? In that case our walls have an R-Value of around 8-9.

The windows will of course be triple-glazed.

In order to save on the amount of concrete used (very energy-intensive), the house will be built on a strip foundation. Basically a 40 cm wooden and insulated slab, if that's the right word, on top of the strips.

In the next comments I will go into how we plan to heat our home and water, the heat recovery ventilation system, and other measures such as solar panels.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on March 06, 2013, 08:28:21 PM
Imperial units are never as straight forward as SI units. Though R is 1/conductance the imperial units are of course more arcane. In North America R units are  h·ft²·°F/Btu. Thus your planned wall insulation is a much more impressive R of 45 to 51!

That about what I upgraded my attic insulation to a few years ago so it is really impressive for walls.

Another suggestion that immediately came to mind relates to skylights. In my personal experience the quality of life in my homes has been massively improved by having skylights in the south facing roof. So unless you feel to absolutely must cover every square meter of southern roof with PV panels consider some skylighting. If 100% is taken up by PV then consider skylights on some of the north facing roof. The natural lighting provides a wonderful boost to a person's mental attitude.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Bob Wallace on March 06, 2013, 08:34:48 PM
I've got to agree re: skylights.  The make a massive difference to the livability of rooms under the roof.

You can add movable insulating covers for heat trapping on cold nights.

--

Have you considered papercrete?  A designer/builder friend of mine has built a couple of structures and it seems to work wonderfully as an insulating structure.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lynn Shwadchuck on March 06, 2013, 10:52:21 PM
Outdoor earth oven

A way to make life without air conditioning more comfortable while cooking from scratch from low-footprint basic supplies (e.g. bread). I understand that the wood is used very efficiently for maximum heat retention. I bought the book, Build Your Own Earth Oven, and we plan to make one this summer.

Lots of inspiring photos here.

http://inspirationgreen.com/outdoor-earth-ovens.html (http://inspirationgreen.com/outdoor-earth-ovens.html)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 06, 2013, 11:30:19 PM
Neven,
Looks like you've been spending some time on Google Sketchup...
Sketchup is a great modeling tool.
Once you have a basic model of your house, you can turn on "shadows" to tweak your window layout and roof overhangs for best passive solar performance.
I used sketchup to model my own roof overhangs this way and they turned out great.

Looks like you have a small living space in the attic, so you will need construction details that create a continuous air barrier between the main floor and the attic living space.
Have you considered what kind of air sealing strategy you'll be using?


Good idea to minimize your use of concrete - energy inensive, CO2 intensive and expensive.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 07, 2013, 11:44:50 AM
Very nice, Lynn! I tinkered a bit with the shadows function in Sketchup, but somehow prefer doing it on paper with my protractor and set square. :-)

Wrt skylights: They're very nice, we have them in our current rental apartment. Downside is that glass in a roof means increased loss of thermal energy, but this might not be a problem upstairs as it isn't part of the main, well-insulated space downstairs. We will probably make one big space upstairs, with just a small bathroom and a small room for the PV inverter and battery system. This means that there is also light coming through the side walls.

I'm thinking about making a so-called dormer window, unless it creates shadows that could bother the solar panels. In that case I'd make a recess in the roof.

Basically three possibilities (in order of current preference):

1. Dormer window.
2. Recess.
3. Skylights.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 08, 2013, 10:13:15 PM
Quote
Have you considered what kind of air sealing strategy you'll be using?
Forgot to answer this question. Sorry, Lynn.

We'll be using OSB on the inside of the house to make the house airtight, together with special duct tape to seal off any openings. I believe Lucas has done something similar with his house. In fact, I saw that duct tape first on his blog. I believed gluing the OSB boards together, would be enough, but it isn't.

Speaking of air: In a house that is so well insulated and airtight as a Passivhaus you don't have any drafts that let fresh air in. If you do it by opening your windows, you let all the warm air out, which destroys the idea of Passivhaus (hardly any active heating, mostly passive by catching sunlight). If you keep your windows closed, you choke.

And so an integral part of the Passivhaus concept is the heat recovery ventilation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_recovery_ventilation) system. These machines take fresh outside air and before getting blowing into your house, this air receives up to 95% of the heat (and humidity) of the air that is ventilated out of the house. See the Wiki entry for more details.

You basically have two HRV systems, either centralized or decentralized. The first is more common, but has some serious downsides IMO. This next part is something I've written on a different forum a couple of months ago:

A central ventilation system transports air to all rooms via ducts. I'm not a fan of central ventilation systems, because they're expensive and noisy. After installing them there are extra costs for maintenance (electronics) and the bi-yearly exchange of expensive filters. Installing ducts throughout the entire house is also a lot of extra work, and has to be done perfectly or you get problems with noise and/or bacteria.

And so I prefer a decentral solution, this one to be precise: Ökolüfter (http://www.oekoluefter.de/). The Ökolüfter (translates as 'Ecovent') is a German decentral heat recovery ventilation system, meaning there are no ducts. What I like about the Ökolüfter is its simplicity. It can deliver plenty of air (80-200 m3/hr), but uses very little energy (4-31 W), is relatively quiet (22-42 dBA), recovers moisture as well (very important in winter), has no filters or electronics, just two high-quality Papst fans. It's small, simple and 3-4 cheaper and easier to install than central ventilation systems. To me this is the picoPSU of ventilation systems (watch this video (http://www.oekoluefter.de/video.htm) to see how it works, it's pretty nifty).

The downside of decentral ventilation systems is that there aren't any ducts to transport the air to other rooms. However, we need fresh air in our bedrooms at night, but can't open any windows. I want to compensate that by building a so-called Ringlüftung, which roughly translates to 'air circuit' or 'ventilation circuit'. Air is transported from room to room by using computer fans and short ducts. In our case it would look something like this:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-Yeb9LSZOKCQ/UMpVXBSpZzI/AAAAAAAAAOg/lxOFAAshI6o/s500/tn_Ringl%25C3%25BCftung.jpg)

The air enters the house via the Ökolüfter in the lower right or southeast corner of the building (where the kitchen is). Passing three ducts and fans it gets transported all around the house in a clockwise direction. Three important aspects:

1) Ventilation

There are several numbers out there describing how much CFM or m3/hr there needs to be to prevent air in a home from going stale. For instance 22-36 m3/hr per person is recommended. We're a family of three, so 80-120 m3/h should be enough. Another way to look at it is by calculating air changes per hour, in other words: how many times per hour does the air in a home need to be changed? According to the German Passivhaus Institute 30-40% of the air needs to be changed every hour. Our house will be 85-90 square metres, with a 2.5 metre high ceiling, so the volume will be approximately 200-225 m3 -> 40% of 225 m3 every hour amounts to 90 m3/hr.

Put simply, the three computer fans that circulate the air through the house must be able to deliver around 100 m3/hr (or 59 CFM). Perhaps even less, as the two bedrooms have a total volume of 50 m3, and 40% of 50 m3 every hour is just 20 m3/hr (or 12 CFM). But I'm not sure about this.

2) Noise

Of course, the fans need to be quiet! According to experts noise in bedrooms must not exceed 23 dBA. Of course, the fans will be high up, in the corner of the room, at least 3-4 metres away, but I'm very sensitive to noises. The fans will also be hooked up to the Scythe Kaze Server fan controller, for power, rpm readings and fan control.

More on fans after 3).

3) Acoustics

There will be air ducts between rooms (two will be approximately 1.5 metres long, the last one twice that), and I'm not sure if sounds get carried from one room to the next. It's possible to install duct silencers/mufflers to dampen the sounds, if that would help (have no idea). I could build them myself, but they're not very expensive.

---

So that's the idea basically. I went to present my idea on the Silent PC Review Forums because there are a lot of silent fan and duct experts there. You can read the rest of the discussion there (http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=65536&p=569511#p569511). It didn't lead to anything conclusive.

The way I see it now, there are two options:

1) Use the (muffled) ducts to get the fresh air circulating around the house, or
2) Make a lot of smaller holes in walls, with a sound insulating board 2-3 cm (1 inch) in front of it.

A third option would be to just leave the bedroom doors open. According to the company that sells the Ökolüfter the air will get circulated all over the house because of temperature differences. Although this is true, I'm not sure if that would do the trick. And I really want fresh air around me. It's amazing how fast CO2 can build up in a room or house, and make you less concentrated and get tired faster.

Now this idea of a Ringlüftung hasn't been done often and you can't find much info on the Internet, but I'm reasonably certain it could work noiselessly. I have some experience with building low power and completely silent computers in wooden casings (I tried setting up a small company (http://www.turtlestep.org/en/?Step2) a few years ago building the damn things), and houses and computers are pretty similar in a couple of ways.

But I have an even more risky/crazy idea that I will try to explain in the following comment. It involves the ventilation system and CO2.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 08, 2013, 11:21:23 PM
BTW I hope you don't mind these long-winding posts, and feel free to shoot holes.

----

Because we plan on doing a lot of gardening, we somehow want to incorporate a greenhouse into our design. Although it isn't too difficult to add one later, we prefer to do it now. Attaching a greenhouse to a house has a couple of advantages. The greenhouse can function as an extra insulation layer when placed on the south side of the house, and the outer wall of the house in return insulates the greenhouse on the north and functions as a thermal energy storage element.

In the first image I posted we have the greenhouse on the eastern side of the house, but are now seriously considering to put it on the south side, to cut down costs for instance.

The second version of the house looks something like this:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-VkIVf2XO1YE/UTpWZvVACSI/AAAAAAAAATE/2GgJ08_qTQs/s824/version2.jpg)

The glass of the greenhouse would be at an angle of 45°, same as the roof. 50 to 60° is best for catching sunlight during winter, but 45° would be easier for me to build and aesthetically more appealing I believe. The greenhouse will be a wooden construction with an area of around 20 square metres (200 square feet) which should be plenty for a start. We're planning on using plexiglass (http://www.plexiglas.net/product/plexiglas/en/products/multi-skin-sheets/alltop-sp/pages/default.aspx), because it's lightweight, pretty eco-friendly, long-lasting (doesn't turn yellow) and it lets a lot of sunshine and UV through, which is beneficial to plant growth.

What is also beneficial to plants, as our fake skeptic friends keep telling us, is CO2. This is where my other crazy/risky idea comes in: I want to combine the Ökolüfter and the greenhouse in such a way that used air from the building ends up in the greenhouse, thus increasing the CO2 concentration.

Here is a profile sketch of how the greenhouse looks with the duct of the Ökolüfter's intake running through the greenhouse, but the exhaust connecting straight to the greenhouse:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-G9zZ6wMNiIk/UTpj2vFSNYI/AAAAAAAAATk/7h9nyVMuo1Q/s571/%25C3%2596kol%25C3%25BCfter%2520Greenhouse.jpg)

I have to go now, but I'll continue tomorrow with some numbers and advantages and problems I'm seeing but can't judge properly.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on March 08, 2013, 11:51:54 PM
Neven

Why the aversion to filtration?

Static electric filters remove particles that otherwise end up in your lungs. They can be cleaned as opposed to being replaced, permit good air flow & have some small effect on reducing sound transmission.  If you ever have the misfortune to have to clean an evaporator coil or even a fan squirrel cage in a system that has been run for even a short period without filtration you'd need no convincing. 

Convection currents, particularly under closed doors, pick up large mounts of nasty stuff that you really want to filter out of the air, particularly in a very air tight home.

The greenhouse on the south facing wall can pump large amounts of heated air through the house simply by venting it in near the peak & allowing return air feeds at floor level. I'd probably want shutters on the vents to keep the home livable on sunny days. I've seen designs that allowed the greenhouse to vent outside during the summer while drawing cool air through the house from a basement feature. I realize you're not building a basement, but if you consider the greenhouse as a heater that requires no fans for air circulation it may help with your design.

Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: gfwellman on March 08, 2013, 11:56:09 PM
I think that's a great idea Neven.  Also what Terry said - using the greenhouse as solar heater in winter and convective draw in summer.

I've been looking into ways to improve the sealing of my existing, conventional North American home.  However, if I were to get the sealing good enough, I too would want an HRV (aka ERV).  In my case there is already central HVAC as well as dedicated "out" ventilation fans in the obvious places (bathrooms, over the range, etc).  Given limitations of what I can access, my plan would be to add an HRV that draws from 2 or 3 of the accessible vents on the top floor while feeding the fresh air into the top of the central HVAC return system.  Other vents (like the one over the range) would be left alone (almost never used anyway).

One significant problem?  This is North America.  I went to Home Depot hoping to get some information on HRVs.  Nobody had ever heard of them.  Yeah, I can find them on the net, but I was hoping for some on-the-ground knowledge of which ones work out well, noise levels, efficiency, etc.  Anyway, it's not a super high priority right now, but eventually I'll get around to it.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on March 09, 2013, 01:20:12 AM
Seems a bit surprising that Home depot didn't have any HRVs. HRVs are now a code requirement for new residential buildings here in Ontario. If you are building a tightly sealed home you definitely require active ventilation and if you want to control heating/cooling requirements then HRV makes sense.

Greenhouses require massive ventilation for the portion of the year where there are plenty of hours of sun. I don't know the details of your location but I'd expect venting will be required at least 6 months of the year.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 09, 2013, 03:05:55 AM
Neven,
Seems like you may have confused Lynn and I ;-)

Looks like you've been putting a lot of thought into your plans - good for you!
The planning stage isn't something that should be rushed.

If you don't mind, I have a couple of comments:
1. ***
If you are planning to use taped OSB as an air barrier, be careful to make sure that the tape will stick properly to it.
Maybe the OSB you have over there is a little different, but here OSB has a "rough" side and a "smooth" side and tape will only stick to the "smooth" side.
The tapes that are made for this purpose have a very aggressive adhesive, but the adhesive grabs the fine particles in the "rough" side of OSB, which seperate easily from the panel.

Edit to say: A primer may also help the tape to stick if the substrate is difficult.

There are some high quality tapes that may be available in your area from Siga (http://www.siga.ch/en/product-overview.html) and Pro Clima. (http://www.proclima.com/)

2. ***
Cool fan unit!
You don't see a lot of products like the Okolufter over here unless they're imported.
Does it have built in heat recovery?

If not, you might consider something like this unit from Lunos. (http://www.lunos.de/?page_id=170&lang=en)
It uses a single fan that reverses direction periodically and a ceramic core for heat recovery.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ivica on March 09, 2013, 08:26:27 AM
Neven,
I like, specialy, your idea to have a greenhouse. :thumbs-up:
Something to share, "Greenhouse growing" board:
http://citrus.forumup.org/viewforum.php?f=15&mforum=citrus (http://citrus.forumup.org/viewforum.php?f=15&mforum=citrus)

A potted lemon tree could be nice addition there :-)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 09, 2013, 11:13:52 AM
Neven

Why the aversion to filtration?
Terry, I'm definitely not averse to filtration, quite the contrary. What I don't like is that most central ventilation systems I have looked at, require a filter change twice a year. That's two times two filters a year. I don't find that sustainable, and it costs around $100. The Ökolüfter also has a filtration system - albeit not as good as special filters - that can be detached and washed easily.

About 90% of energy and humidity are recovered by the Ökolüfter.

Neven,
Seems like you may have confused Lynn and I ;-)
Indeed, I did. Apologies. And no need for you to look at your own blog (http://ourhouseuponmoosehill.blogspot.ca/) to see the details.  :D

Quote
Looks like you've been putting a lot of thought into your plans - good for you!
The planning stage isn't something that should be rushed.
Still not finished planning wrt ventilation, heating and hot water. We're going to get some offers from a couple of companies before the end of the month, so I hope to be done by then.

Thanks for the OSB tip. There's a cool OSB product in Europe called OSB AIRSTOPFINISH ECO (http://kronospan.cz/en/osb-airstop/) with a special cellulose-based foil that improves airtightness even more, but I have a feeling it's going to be very expensive.

I knew about the concept with the ceramic core, where the air gets blown out for a couple of minutes, heating the ceramic core, and then blown in again. The problem for me is that they can only deliver 38 m3/h at the most (and are said to be loud) which means I would need at least three. But this might become an option nonetheless if for some reason or other it's not working out with the Ökolüfter.


Greenhouses require massive ventilation for the portion of the year where there are plenty of hours of sun. I don't know the details of your location but I'd expect venting will be required at least 6 months of the year.
It can get pretty hot and sunny here in summer, southeast of the Alps, so proper ventilation and shutters are very important.

I'll post more details when I have it all worked out. I like the model from the Passive Solar Greenhouse Project (http://www.irisherbal.com/psg/index.html) a lot. This website has lots of info and numbers. I plan on building that greenhouse, but instead of free standing it will be attached to the house. Greenhouses are a fascinating subject. You have to make sure you use the right (plexi)glass, get the ventilation right, create enough thermal energy storage. If you do all of that right, you can grow stuff in there almost all year round. We also plan on building root cellar next year or the year after that. Another fascinating subject.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 09, 2013, 11:43:54 AM
Now for those pros and cons of combining the home ventilation system with the greenhouse. First the pros:

- CO2 is plant food! According to the German Hortipendium (http://www.hortipendium.de/CO2-D%C3%BCngung) wiki plants do better in an atmosphere (in a greenhouse of course) that contains 600 to 1600 ppm, depending on the plants. Vegetables like more.

So here's what I have calculated on the back of an envelope: On average people breathe out 16 litres of CO2 every hour. We are a family of three, our daughter is 8 years old, so we make that 40 litres per hour. The greenhouse has a volume of around 80.000 litres of air, which means that every hour 0.0002% of CO2 is added to the greenhouse. 0.0002% is 200 ppm. So in theory the CO2 concentration in the greenhouse should be elevated considerably over the standard 300-400 ppm.
- The Ökolüfter requires a hole of about 38 cm (15 inches) in the wall, and this in essence is a thermal bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermal_bridge). But less so with a greenhouse in front of the wall.
- At very low temperatures (-20 °C) condensate could get frozen and the ventilation system would then need to be shut off. The greenhouse could prevent that, although I have to say this situation would occur very rarely in this part of Austria.
- Perhaps the greenhouse pre-heats some of the air that enters the house through the 2-2.5 metre (6-8 feet) long duct.

And now the cons that could be a deal breaker:

- With the exhaust blowing air into the greenhouse, could pressure differences between greenhouse and home cause problems?
- Will the intake fan function properly when the air goes through that duct?
- 90% of the air that exits is recovered, which means that if it's 0 °C outside, and 20°C in the house, the exiting air has a temp of 2 °C. Maybe not all that great for the greenhouse.

I think basically that I need to have the possibility to either have the exhaust blow CO2 rich air into the greenhouse, or when the cons outweigh that pro, have it blow directly outside. This could work in fall and spring, but not in winter. Hmmm....

---

More on heating and hot water tomorrow. Please shoot holes. The inventor of the ventilation system is going to advise me, but is extremely busy atm.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on March 09, 2013, 04:51:12 PM
I spent my PhD measuring photosynthesis in plants and I'd say don't focus your house/greenhouse ventilation plans on CO2 management. There are plenty of CO2 sources within the greenhouse to more than suffice. For example humus rich soil with live bacteria will dump plenty of CO2 into the air.

Instead focus on your family's comfort and well being when you design the ventilation. The plants will be just fine. Remember that the current 400ppm is already double what they evolved to live with.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on March 09, 2013, 10:31:47 PM
Neven

Sorry about the misunderstanding of your position on filtration. Electrostatic filters are washable with a >10 year life. They filter to just below hepa standards without interfering too much with air flow. I've used them in everything from my home to large commercial installations & for anything other than hospitals they're more than adequate. Don't buy anything that requires filter replacements.

The air pressure differences you mention between the greenhouse and the home can be used in place of fans to keep the air moving, Static stratified air has to be avoided & convection currents can be your friend - if designed for. Nothing is quieter than airflow that isn't induced by a fan.

Do you have wet bulb/ dry bulb figures for your area? Sometimes humidity is more important than raw temperature when it comes to livability.

Your root cellar might prove a good source of cool air for most of the year using convective currents from the greenhouse to draw this air up. Air vented into the house from the top of the greenhouse will necessitate dissipating the heat most of the year & heavy stone structures in the greenhouse can store the heat through cold nights.

Most of my work was in coastal southern California and the Mojave Desert in Nevada many years ago so cooling was usually a bigger concern than heating. My work all involved retrofits and was mainly concerned with large commercial structures. A friend had a huge passive home in Utah that heated and cooled using a greenhouse very similar to yours so I know it's possible to design a system without fans.

I think Ghoti is right about CO2 in the greenhouse. You have a large source of thermal energy there that can be used for heating the house & hopefully the make up air won't be much different than ambient.

Lucas's emphasis on planning bears repeating. Nothing is worse than trying to adjust things part way through the building phase, unless it's having to change things after they're already built.

I'll be following your project with interest & hope you don't mind if I pop in with comments from time to time.

Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 09, 2013, 11:24:58 PM
I spent my PhD measuring photosynthesis in plants and I'd say don't focus your house/greenhouse ventilation plans on CO2 management. There are plenty of CO2 sources within the greenhouse to more than suffice. For example humus rich soil with live bacteria will dump plenty of CO2 into the air.

Instead focus on your family's comfort and well being when you design the ventilation. The plants will be just fine. Remember that the current 400ppm is already double what they evolved to live with.

Thanks, Ghoti. After writing down all the cons I realized that I tend more towards a greenhouse without the complicated combination of ventilation system and greenhouse.

If I want the plants to have more CO2 I guess I'll have to go and sleep in the greenhouse. During the day, of course, when it's sunny, because that's when they need it most.  ;)

But I'll still wait and see what the inventor of the ventilation system says, although I think he'll advise me not to do it.

The air pressure differences you mention between the greenhouse and the home can be used in place of fans to keep the air moving, Static stratified air has to be avoided & convection currents can be your friend - if designed for. Nothing is quieter than airflow that isn't induced by a fan.

I totally agree, except that this wouldn't work for a Passivhaus as the greenhouse would have to be made airtight as well.

Quote
Do you have wet bulb/ dry bulb figures for your area? Sometimes humidity is more important than raw temperature when it comes to livability.

I don't believe I have. Basically summers can be pretty hot around here, winters can be cold, but not as cold as most other parts of Austria (Alps). It can be humid in fall and spring with lots of fog in the morning and at night.

Quote
Your root cellar might prove a good source of cool air for most of the year using convective currents from the greenhouse to draw this air up. Air vented into the house from the top of the greenhouse will necessitate dissipating the heat most of the year & heavy stone structures in the greenhouse can store the heat through cold nights.

The root cellar won't be under the house. We thought about having one built together with the foundation, but to save money we're going to leave that one for later, and probably build one ourselves not too far from the house.

Quote
I think Ghoti is right about CO2 in the greenhouse. You have a large source of thermal energy there that can be used for heating the house & hopefully the make up air won't be much different than ambient.

Yes, another reason not to combine the ventilation system with the greenhouse, as you couldn't open the door between home and greenhouse, because of the shortcircuiting of air. If they are not combined, you can open the door to either let warm air caught in the greenhouse into your home, or let warm air from your home into the greenhouse to save the salads from freezing.

I know there is only a small chance the combination works AND makes sense, but want to think it through anyway, while I still can. When the house is built, you switch from planning to living with your mistakes.  ;D

Quote
I'll be following your project with interest & hope you don't mind if I pop in with comments from time to time.

Gladly, Terry! Tomorrow I will try and explain how I want to heat air and water. I have a simple plan and a complex one. And then after that it's time for the solar panel array, where the planning is also far from done.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on March 11, 2013, 04:18:54 PM
I'll be taking a group through North House within the next few months. It's an 800 sq ft solar home that produces more energy than it uses & incorporates lots of new technologies.  After touring the US it's permanent home is only  few kilometers from where I live, so it will be interesting to see how it holds up over the years.

What expertise I have was in designing for very hot very dry climates, so seeing what technical solutions the students have come up with to build for more northern climes should be interesting. They are combining both passive and active solar systems & apparently produce enough energy to power a nearby hundred year old farmhouse!

I haven't been able to locate any technical specs yet, but hopefully after the tour I'll be able to post about what I've learned.

http://www.oaa.on.ca/professional+resources/sustainable+design/the+north+house (http://www.oaa.on.ca/professional+resources/sustainable+design/the+north+house)

Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 11, 2013, 05:37:52 PM
Terry,
I would be interested to hear what you have to say after you visit.
These houses usually have some pretty innovative stuff going on...
I'd like to know more about what the project house cost - the website you linked to seemed to hint at a project budget somewhere north of $2.1 million (for an 800 sq ft house!).

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on March 11, 2013, 07:01:05 PM
Terry,
I would be interested to hear what you have to say after you visit.
These houses usually have some pretty innovative stuff going on...
I'd like to know more about what the project house cost - the website you linked to seemed to hint at a project budget somewhere north of $2.1 million (for an 800 sq ft house!).

I think the quoted figure included things not applicable for a home that would actually be lived in such as transportation, set up & tear down.

This link may have more information, particularly after clicking on"our design". I'll get some up to date figures for what it would cost to replicate when I visit. I doubt if anyone would want to duplicate all the features, but there may be some things that could be incorporated into new or retrofitted homes.

http://www.team-north.com/index.php (http://www.team-north.com/index.php)

I think one of the new buildings at the Balsillie School of International Affairs is using some of the technology that North House developed & I'll try to find out more when I'm there within the next few weeks.

Your project is interesting. I'm passingly familiar with the area you're in & may be out that way next year. Yours is a much larger home than anything that the wife and I would require & in fact we've found ourselves quite content in a condo where someone else mows the grass and shovels the snow. Will you be needing AC in the summer or are ambient temperatures such that it won't be required?

At some point green apartment buildings will be on the market. There was one attempted in Las Vegas about 25 years ago but it was a disaster that I was peripherally involved with when the systems began to fail. One of their problems was running radiant heating/cooling through the units without a means to isolate one unit without shutting down a whole building. They'd actually neglected to put shut offs on each building so the whole complex had to be shut down to repair a small leak. Another thing they missed was taking into account how sensitive PVC and ABS are to thermal expansion. A pipe may only change diameter by a small amount but the length can change significantly. Solar is still new enough that building standards haven't been written yet in many locations & the architect has to remember to plan for repairs when systems fail.

Cheers
Terry



Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 11, 2013, 07:58:04 PM
I doubt if anyone would want to duplicate all the features, but there may be some things that could be incorporated into new or retrofitted homes.
Terry,
Yeah, I sometimes get a bit of a chuckle out of some of the features in these houses.
It's good to try things out, but I have a hard time believing that we'll ever see the day when adding salt hydrates as a thermal mass will be standard practice.

I'm passingly familiar with the area you're in & may be out that way next year. Yours is a much larger home than anything that the wife and I would require & in fact we've found ourselves quite content in a condo where someone else mows the grass and shovels the snow. Will you be needing AC in the summer or are ambient temperatures such that it won't be required?
If you do end up passing through, feel free to drop by and have a look.
This house I'm building is larger than what I wanted as well, but as it turns out, it may work out well in the end as we will now have room for my in-laws.

I won't be putting in any A/C...
Most new construction in the area gets A/C, but I'm not sure it's really required.
One of my design goals with this house has been to keep the amount of active systems to the bare minimum.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 11, 2013, 10:49:37 PM
That North House is pretty cool, Terry! There are tons of similar projects. Here in Austria they built a big strawbale passive house with loads of info and data on experiments they ran with ecological building materials, but somehow I never got around to go and visit it.

By the way, if someone says we can't discuss passive houses on an Arctic Sea Ice Forum, then here's something (http://passipedia.passiv.de/passipedia_en/basics/the_passive_house_-_historical_review#the_research_ship_fram_was_a_passive_house) I read just 1 minute ago to dispute it:

Quote
The first fully functioning Passive House was actually a polar ship and not a house: the Fram of Fridtjof Nansen (1883).

He writes: ”… The sides of the ship were lined with tarred felt, then came a space with cork padding, next a deal panelling, then a thick layer of felt, next air-tight linoleum, and last of all an inner panelling. The ceiling of the saloon and cabins . . . gave a total thickness of about 15 inches. …The skylight which was most exposed to the cold was protected by three panes of glass one within the other, and in various other ways. … The Fram is a comfortable abode. Whether the thermometer stands at 22° above zero or at 22° below it, we have no fire in the stove. The ventilation is excellent, especially since we rigged up the air sail, which sends a whole winter‘s cold in through the ventilator; yet in spite of this we sit here warm and comfortable, with only a lamp burning. I am thinking of having the stove removed altogether; it is only in the way.“
(from Nansen: “Farthest North”, Brockhaus, 1897))
Is that Nansen the coolest guy who ever lived or what?!

---

Okay, so I want to explain a bit about how I want to heat the building and water. I find it extremely difficult to get all the criteria (sustainability, ecology, costs, proper dimensions, personal wishes) aligned, so maybe you could help me a bit. I'm also active on some German forums, but no one has been able to give me the advice I need. Not that I want a particular piece of advice because I already have my mind up (I keep changing it anyway). I seem to want to do everything the unconventional way, and so general knowledge is low.

Basically there are two options.

The first one is that I heat my air with 700-1000 Watts of infrared heating (like for instance this one (http://www.redwell.com/en/product_list.asp?basepage=product_list&id=45)), and my water with a simple 80-100 litre, 1-2 kW electric boiler. I'm planning on installing 4-5 kWp of solar panels on my roof, probably combined with 4-5 kWh of battery storage to increase the self-use of PV power from 30% to 70% (more on that later).

The other option is that I heat my air AND water with a loam or clay wood oven, that has a water heat exchanger built into it, looking something like this:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-5q_t0r_nknM/UT5FqSOc7xI/AAAAAAAAAVk/1hdZz7Ldg8E/s433/Waermetauscher_Hepp.jpg)

It basically works the same as with a solar hot water system. The water that is heated, is pumped via a circuit through a 300 litre hot water storage tank where it preheats the water used later on in the electric boiler.

I have written down all the pros and cons of both options:

Pros option 1 (infra red heating and electric boiler):
Cons option 1:

Pros option 2 (loam/clay stove with water heat exchanger, hot water storage tank)
Cons option 2:

So there you have it. I'd like to go for option 2, but only if I'm reasonably sure it'll work. Luckily there's a good loam oven builder living nearby who is going to put on all the loam plaster on our inner walls, but he's on a holiday for another week or so. I will discuss it with him as soon as he's back. He knows quite a bit about unconvential building stuff.

I would like it to work like this: You put in 2-3 kg of wood twice a winter day. Wood carries an energy of around 4 kWh (depending on what kind of wood). This means 4-6 kg is worth 16-24 kWh, but because the oven has an energy conversion efficiency of 80% you get around 13-19 kWh of power. If 30% of that heat goes into heating the living room, you get around 4-6 kWh that is slowly emitted in about 20 hours (2 x 10 hours) because of the high thermal mass of the loam, so we're talking a power rating of 200-300 W. A passive house isn't 'allowed' to have a heating power rating of more than 10 W/m2, so I'm well inside that envelope. With the infra red heating I calculated about 4 hours a day of 750 W = 3 kWh.

70% of the thermal energy, 9-13 kWh is used to heat the 300 litres of water in the tank. It takes 0.00116 kWh to increase the temperature of 1 litre of water by 1 °C. So throwing 9-13 kWh into 300 litres of water, will raise the water temperature by 25-37 °C. As we will only use 80-100 litres of that water a day (some of it will get radiated out of the tank) the water should be warm enough within 1-2 days. If not an electric water heater in the tank and/or electric boiler will further heat the water. You can do that too if outside temperatures are not low enough to use the oven, as this will probably mean the solar panels are producing some more energy than on cold and cloudy days.

This would basically mean we 're 90% or more energy independent. That's why in theory option 2 really appeals to me. In theory. Lots of pitfalls, I expect. I'll see what the loam oven builder thinks about it, but if any of you guys have experience with this or ideas, I'd love to hear them. In the next couple of days I'll give you my thoughts on PV arrays and especially battery storage systems (not that I know much about them) because there's a lot going on in that sector.

Hope I don't bore you too much with my ramblings!  ::)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: OldLeatherneck on March 11, 2013, 11:41:20 PM
Passive Solar Water Heating

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1269.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fjj597%2FOldLeatherNeck%2F9623d754-1df7-4503-8a06-8f341ee34dd3_zpsf0c953c9.jpg&hash=72ff078055de41ee0c67d8499ffd91f4)

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1269.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fjj597%2FOldLeatherNeck%2F530px-IndirectSystemSchematics2_zps6c9af358.jpg&hash=78f7f02bade32a26d118e0adf98a7401)

Neven,

I don't know if you've looked at solar water heating yet, however, I just did a Google search and found hundreds of images (I randomly selected two of them).  Since I'm not a construction engineer, I have no idea which designs might be applicable for your situation or the costs involved.

I just remember how hot water, in the garden hose, gets during the heat of the day, in the Arizona desert.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on March 12, 2013, 04:07:52 AM
Neven

Just a paragraph or 2 at the moment.

The first style of solar water preheater in OldL's is the form I'm most familiar with. I'd recommend it because it doesn't require a circulating pump which adds an unnecessary complication to an otherwise simple system. Even if all you did was to run a hundred feet or so of incoming water pipe through the highest peak of your greenhouse you'd be preheating the water going into your electric heater considerably.

I can't find a reference for a loam wood burning stove anywhere, but it sounds interesting.

I'm sure your loam wood burner guy is aware of all this but fire places aren't generally great for heating an enclosed space. Makeup air is required to keep the fire burning & unless provision is made to bring outside air for the fire you end up taking warmed air from the room to feed the fire - then blow it out through the chimney. A stove bringing in ambient air from outside will work & the built in water heater should radiate plenty of heat. - good in the winter but perhaps not during the rest of the year.

I've never seen a radiant heater similar to the one you linked to. In California it's actually illegal to burn electricity for space heating because it's so inefficient.(I think small portable units are exempt. ) A small, <1 ton heat pump with strip heat kicking in when ambient temperatures are below about 8c might prove adequate particularly if the outside coil was drawing heat from the greenhouse. In summer if AC should be required the condenser can be fed and exhausted through movable vents leading outside the greenhouse. Units similar to this are available here for <$200 and if the strip heaters don't kick automatically the modification can be built by anyone with basic electrical skills.

Final thought for the night. Have you considered heat pipes to utilize your greenhouse heat. Not sure of availability in Europe but I'd think a commercial HVAC supplier might have a stock. No moving parts and totally silent!

Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 12, 2013, 11:07:30 AM
For me solar water heating was a sine qua non, also because it is heavily subsidized here. In fact, if you want a general home subsidy you will only get it if you install a solar water heating system! But when I looked into it, I saw there were some downsides to it as well. The biggest downside, as with all solar stuff, is that there's little of it during winter and during summer there's too much of it. After having looked deeper into it, I figured that putting 1 kWp of PV extra on my roof to feed an electric boiler would be cheaper and much less of a hassle that solar water heating. No plumbing, no pumps, no big panels on the roof, all of which can fail.

OK, now I'm proposing basically the same system with a wood stove, but that's to get me through winter!  ;D

Quote
I'm sure your loam wood burner guy is aware of all this but fire places aren't generally great for heating an enclosed space. Makeup air is required to keep the fire burning & unless provision is made to bring outside air for the fire you end up taking warmed air from the room to feed the fire - then blow it out through the chimney.

That's definitely a big no-no in passive houses, also because it causes pressure differences that confuses the ventilation system. The fire place gets a separate air intake, possibly built into the chimney.

Quote
A stove bringing in ambient air from outside will work & the built in water heater should radiate plenty of heat. - good in the winter but perhaps not during the rest of the year.

It's just for those 50-100 winter days when it's cloudy (no PV) and cold. The rest of the year and on sunny winter days the 5 kWp of PV solar panels produce more than enough electricity to heat the water.

Quote
I've never seen a radiant heater similar to the one you linked to. In California it's actually illegal to burn electricity for space heating because it's so inefficient.

It only makes sense in a passive house, that's for sure. What is interesting, is that it emits infra red radiation that heats up objects rather than air. The objects then emit the heat. One effect of this is that the air temperature can be 2 °C lower and you still feel comfortable.

Quote
A small, <1 ton heat pump with strip heat kicking in when ambient temperatures are below about 8c might prove adequate particularly if the outside coil was drawing heat from the greenhouse. In summer if AC should be required the condenser can be fed and exhausted through movable vents leading outside the greenhouse. Units similar to this are available here for <$200 and if the strip heaters don't kick automatically the modification can be built by anyone with basic electrical skills.

To tell the truth, I don't have that much faith in the greenhouse's winter temperatures. We have had an incredible winter over here in (this part and other parts of) Europe where we basically had no Sun for over 60 days. There's a website that logs people's PV performance, and coincidentally the data of a solar panel array in my village are freely available as well. I checked how many days there have been in the past four months that the 5.28 kWp array produced less than 7 kWh a day:

Nov. 22
Dec. 20
Jan. 29
Feb. 21

Total 92

In all other months there are almost never more than 2 days of below 7 kWh production. In January there were 17 days of 0 kWh production a day, but that's probably because someone was too lazy to remove the snow from the panels.  :)

So I don't expect much from the greenhouse during winter itself, perhaps during the transition periods. In fact, I will probably have to blow in heat from my home occasionally to prevent freezing temps in the greenhouse.

Quote
Final thought for the night. Have you considered heat pipes to utilize your greenhouse heat. Not sure of availability in Europe but I'd think a commercial HVAC supplier might have a stock. No moving parts and totally silent!

That sounds like a good idea for summer and perhaps spring. What could I utilize it for?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on March 13, 2013, 07:58:35 AM
Neven


You're far further north than anything I've been involved in. I had no idea you'd be facing 2 months basically without sunlight. I've been in homes totally heated and cooled by greenhouses but they were at much lower latitudes than you're at, even though the temperatures may have been colder due to altitude.


Temps have gotten so out of hand here in Southern Ontario they're growing palm trees on the north shore of lake Erie & the grass has been green on the south lawn of my building every month for the last two years. The biggest greenhouses just south of here are growing hydroponic tomatoes year round & although they went under a few years ago, a series of greenhouses in Dundas were supplying Canada with cactus's of all things.


What we used to do to assure ventilation without ducting was to cut 6" by 12" holes (with grills) into the bottom and the top of connecting rooms as far apart from each other as possible. When one room is cooled (or heated) the cold air drops, flows through to the next room and displaces the warm air into the next room (if heated it works the same way in reverse). As long as there is a heat imbalance the flow continues without need of fans & I've never seen a building where heat was perfectly distributed.


It sounds as though you'll be experiencing much more humid conditions than I'm used to. I've always been afraid of mold in those conditions. Any closet space has to have air flow & you probably will want to evacuate bathroom air with it's humidity and odor as directly as possible, (an alliteratively named fart fan should suffice). I don't recall you planning for a stove hood in the kitchen, it's another place where you may want to think of evacuating some humid air (even though the odors may be more tantalizing.

The second floor, where the heat will all want to migrate to might create problems. If you aren't planning to use it as a living space a well fitted door at the top of the stairs might do, otherwise I think a fairly large fan will be needed. Whenever you're blowing air in a direction it doesn't want to go (like warm air down a stairway) it takes an effort.


The heat pipes are useful whenever you want to bring heat (or cold) from one side of a wall to the other without bringing in any air. In hot climates we used them behind refrigerators to dissipate the heat from the coils or to get rid of heat from laundry rooms that otherwise would get sucked into the cooling system. I'd thought they might be useful to bring in heat from the Greenhouse, but it you fear that it may reach freezing temperatures in winter it probably wouldn't help. They use passive phase change and so are extremely efficient one way heaters (or coolers).


Forgive me for rambling, it's been one of those days.
Terry

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Bob Wallace on March 13, 2013, 02:19:56 PM
I live in an area in which many people are off grid and heat with wood.  Most of us do all the south-facing windows, heavy insulation stuff but we don't attempt to make our houses air-tight.

The wood stove needs to draw air.  The attitude here is to let the house leak a little and use a bit more wood.  That let's one avoid the heat exchanger stuff and create a supply of fresh air for the occupants.

If you're off the grid it's generally easier to cut some extra wood than make electricity to power a ventilation system during the dark hours.

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 13, 2013, 05:29:34 PM
The wood stove needs to draw air.  The attitude here is to let the house leak a little and use a bit more wood.  That let's one avoid the heat exchanger stuff and create a supply of fresh air for the occupants.
Bob,
That attitude has been changing in recent years.
The attitude is now "build tight and ventilate right".
And in many jurisdictions, a mechanical ventilation strategy is required by building code.

This approach has the following advantages:
- Enclosure durability: Building forensics has identified air leakage (air transport of water vapour) as a major durability issue in houses that use modern impermeable materials like polyethylene, vinyl wallpaper, rigid foam insulation, etc.
- Indoor air quality: Controlled ventilation results in much better IAQ because the source of fresh air is controlled (and not passing through the dead squirrel in the attic, or past mold in the wall).
- Efficiency: If done correctly, "air-tightness" results in measurable efficiency gains.

My own house will be very tight by modern standards and will be heated primarily with an airtight wood stove.
The stove has its own ducted air supply so that it can breathe, but also to avoid backdrafting when the door is opened under (relative) negative pressure conditions.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on March 13, 2013, 07:04:20 PM
Bob


Can I ask what are you live in? I still have a house in Southern California that has no wall insulation, but heavy attic isolation. The idea was to keep the roof heat out in the summer & keep most of the day's heat in on winter nights while allowing large airflow through the place all year round.


It was built in the mid 50s without AC and a tiny unducted heater. Plenty of large trees provide shade in the winter & allow the sun full access after the leaves fall in winter. Over the years I added a 1 ton AC and a small forced air heater, but it was actually comfortable without the changes and I often had to remind myself to turn on the AC every year to keep the refrigerant oil from settling.


Wonder how many decades will pass before similar designs prove viable in balmy Southern Ontario ;D


Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 13, 2013, 08:03:34 PM
My own house will be very tight by modern standards and will be heated primarily with an airtight wood stove.
The stove has its own ducted air supply so that it can breathe, but also to avoid backdrafting when the door is opened under (relative) negative pressure conditions.

Lucas, how do you plan on heating your water? And will you be installing any PV? I'm sorry, all of this is probably on your blog (http://ourhouseuponmoosehill.blogspot.ca/), but I'd love to hear what tricks you have up your sleeve.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 14, 2013, 01:35:23 AM
Neven,
I'm not planning anything too fancy - the simpler the better in my view.

As I mentioned, the primary heating appliance is an airtight woodstove (http://www.hearthstonestoves.com/wood-stoves/stove-details?product_id=19) with its own ducted air supply.
Also, the house has been designed to take advantage of passive solar heat gain from the middle of fall to the middle of spring.

For heating domestic hot water, I am using two 4'x8' (~1.2mx2.4m) flat plate solar collectors (similar to those in Old L's photos above) to heat an 80gal (~300l) stainless steel storage tank.
The rest of the solar thermal system is simply a closed loop design that circulates a glycol solution for heat transfer and also to prevent freezing.
A DC pump is wired directly to a small PV panel so that when the sun shines, the pump circulates the glycol solution (no controllers required).
It's actually a very simple system - a fellow up the road from me has been operating a system very similar to this for the last 25 years with the only maintenance being to recycle the glycol solution every few years.
The collectors are angled almost perpendicular to the winter noon sun so that they operate most efficiently in winter and less efficiently in summer.
Solar thermal is generally not as good as PV from a strictly economic perspective, but economics isn't everything and solar thermal has its advantages - particularily in off-grid applications.

I would like to add some PV as budget permits.
Our house will be connected to the grid, but I don't see myself tying my PV system to the grid.
Instead, I will probably have a smaller off-grid PV system dedicated to certain essential household systems - like our well pump.

We also have an attached three season sunroom (like a greenhouse) for seed starting etc.
There is a door directly into the sunroom from the house so I imagine that if there is excess heat in there during the winter, we could just open the door to let some of it in the house.

The overall idea was to give our house the ability to operate in an "off-grid mode".
Presently, a worst case scenario would involve an extended power outage in the winter when the outdoor temperature is down in the vicinity of -20C.
In such circumstances, it can become neccessary to "abandon ship".
However, while operating in "off-grid mode", our house will still provide hot running water and (thanks to all the insulation) will only require a small amount of wood to keep warm (we also live on a large wood lot from which I can sustainably harvest my own wood).
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 14, 2013, 01:54:10 AM
Neven,
After looking at your "loam oven", I thought you might find these "rocket mass heaters" interesting:
http://www.richsoil.com/rocket-stove-mass-heater.jsp (http://www.richsoil.com/rocket-stove-mass-heater.jsp)

I want to try to build one when I have some spare time  ::)

Another downside to heating hot water with a stove can be that the thermosyphon can't be shut off if the storage tank reaches maximum temperature/pressure - at which point the tank must be allowed to vent somewhere or else you have (potentially) a large bomb in your house.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Bob Wallace on March 14, 2013, 08:44:22 PM
Bob

Can I ask what are you live in?

I'm in Northern California, Humboldt County, and in the mountains.  It's a four season climate with mild summers.  I've no need for AC, just use a fan a small number of days a year. 

I built my house so that the main living space (living room, eating area and kitchen) are protected on the east and north from the coldest and windiest weather by dining room (east) and workshop (north).  I also insulated the ceiling over the living room (under the upstairs bedroom).

The walls are 2x6 for extra insulation, the windows and doors double pane, "low e" with an almost invisible reflective film and argon gas. 

The floor is insulated and "hosed" for radiant heating if I ever decide to add it. 

This gives me a tightly insulated 600 square foot box.  Doubly protected on top by both ceiling and roof insulation.  The rest of the house (bedrooms, shop, dining room) are outside the heated box.

I've closed the bubble reasonably tight but avoided the super tight -  no air can possibly leak in -approach.  I wanted to avoid have an active (requiring electricity) ventilation system.  I'd rather carry in a little extra wood than run my generator on a cold winter night to keep the air fresh.

I've got plenty of south facing windows (and a well-designed overhang).  My house is rarely/never under 50 degrees when I get up in the morning.  It's usually 55 and if the Sun is going to shine I don't bother lighting a fire.  A hot cup of coffee and the sunshine spilling in through the French doors to the dining room are enough to hold me over until the Sun starts warming the living room.

What really works on cold, cloudy mornings is a lot of "small stuff" to get a quick, hot fire going.  I stock up on small limbs and branches from the woods and have a bucket for chill-breaking.

We have a few hot days most summers.  I built a small second story porch on the east side (over the dining room) which is shaded from noon on and will serve as a hot night sleeping porch (when I get the railing built).  I'm hoping to avoid needing AC, but if the climate jumps several degrees I'll add a room unit to the east side dining room for afternoon escapes.

One thing that seems to really help with heat is having a metal roof.  The steel is quite thin so there is little mass to absorb and store heat for later in the day.  Even my storage area which is not insulated cools off quickly once the Sun is off its roof.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Bob Wallace on March 14, 2013, 09:00:55 PM
Power comes from 1.2kW of solar panels which are ground mounted.  That makes it easier to remove the snow- which I sometimes do 3-4 times a day.  (Some really sweet sunshine can sneak in between snowy clouds).

12 "golf cart" batteries in a 24 volt configuration.  Probably replacing current set with Trojan T-105 RE this year.  It's new battery time and the REs are a new product for off-grid use.  They have thicker plates and are rated for 4,000 20% discharge cycles.  They should last ten or eleven years.  And by then I expect we'll have much better options.

Backup with a 3500 watt gas generator.  I keep doing the math for a wind turbine but I just can't make the numbers work.  I think I'll probably add another kW or so of panels on the roof in the next couple of years which should greatly cut my fuel usage.

Water comes from a well in the orchard.  I pump to tanks which sit about 80' higher than the house.  That let's me pump when the Sun is shining and avoid running the pump off of batteries.

Sunny days are also laundry days.  Especially since I use a clothesline.  If necessary I finish stuff off overnight in the living room.  I installed some attractive "hooks" I found in Nepal and can string two 30' clotheslines.  The dry heat of the wood stove does a great job.

Regular 18 cu ft refer.  All CFL bulbs but expect to get my first LED this year.  Use a netbook and 20" LCD for computer.  "30 mile wi-fi" pulls only 4 watts.

Sixty acres with more than 50% in forest.  There's no shortage of firewood.  Just using the storm-downed stuff near the road is pretty much enough.

Now I need for someone to make an affordable 150 mile range EV with 4wd and good ground clearance....
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 14, 2013, 10:21:57 PM

For heating domestic hot water, I am using two 4'x8' (~1.2mx2.4m) flat plate solar collectors (similar to those in Old L's photos above) to heat an 80gal (~300l) stainless steel storage tank.
The rest of the solar thermal system is simply a closed loop design that circulates a glycol solution for heat transfer and also to prevent freezing.
A DC pump is wired directly to a small PV panel so that when the sun shines, the pump circulates the glycol solution (no controllers required).
It's actually a very simple system - a fellow up the road from me has been operating a system very similar to this for the last 25 years with the only maintenance being to recycle the glycol solution every few years.
The collectors are angled almost perpendicular to the winter noon sun so that they operate most efficiently in winter and less efficiently in summer.
That sounds good, especially the PV panel and the angle. I know some people who really tried to get the most energy out of their solar thermal and they have problems keeping everything tight because it gets pretty hot here in summer. It's much smarter to go for maximum winter gains. Summer is not a problem anyhow.

Quote
Solar thermal is generally not as good as PV from a strictly economic perspective, but economics isn't everything and solar thermal has its advantages - particularily in off-grid applications.
For starters it is much more efficient. PV only converts 15-20% of light to energy, ST has 70-85%. The main reason I've decided against it, is that PV is relatively cheap (for the time being).

Neven,
After looking at your "loam oven", I thought you might find these "rocket mass heaters" interesting:
http://www.richsoil.com/rocket-stove-mass-heater.jsp (http://www.richsoil.com/rocket-stove-mass-heater.jsp)

I want to try to build one when I have some spare time  ::)
I was very skeptical on first view, but I have now seen enough to know that I have to investigate further.   :D

I knew of the little rocket stoves they built in third world countries, but I've never seen anything like this. Will report later on my thoughts. Looks pretty cool, although I don't know if I can use it for our home (and I don't think it will be permitted by the municipality), perhaps the greenhouse.

Quote
Another downside to heating hot water with a stove can be that the thermosyphon can't be shut off if the storage tank reaches maximum temperature/pressure - at which point the tank must be allowed to vent somewhere or else you have (potentially) a large bomb in your house.
Definitely. But according to my calculations - for a theory of which I don't even know if it works - I'd have to try hard to accomplish that.

Bob Wallace, that sounds like a pretty nifty home you have there. Wow, just 1.2 kWp of solar panels to power everything.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 17, 2013, 01:06:05 PM
I have looked some further into the rocket stove and although it's a very cool DIY project, it's not applicable to my situation, if only for the fact that it sucks in air from the room and that's a big no-no for my ventilation system. They also make it sound as if you can have the chimney exit into your house (only CO2 and steam!), but I don't think they're doing that. When it comes to creosote and stuff like that, I just don't know enough about the whole subject yet to judge that (have downloaded the Ianto Evans book (http://www.rocketstoves.com/) though). Either way, I don't see how the rocket stove is radically different from the concept of the Grundofen (https://www.google.at/search?q=grundofen&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=YaW&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=KpZFUd2wCY25hAee3YCYBw&ved=0CDwQsAQ&biw=1262&bih=833) (like a loam stove):

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-wJkiAUwV3DE/UUWWtPldvsI/AAAAAAAAAXs/xlf_KqkwJV0/s576/kachelofen.jpg)

But a small one could be interesting for our greenhouse (heat and CO2). To quote Lucas: "I want to try to build one when I have some spare time".  ::)

---

OK, now it's time to explain the PV concept I have in mind. I've done a lot of research in the past couple of weeks, and it's a very interesting subject, especially nowadays, because storage is getting more and more attention. As you all know, in the past years Germany has very aggressively stimulated the deployment of PV by offering high feed-in tariffs. This has proven to be so successful that solar energy is lowering prices during summer months (of course, consumers don't share the advantage in a culture that revolves around growth/profit). At one point last summer I believe that PV arrays were collectively feeding 40% of demand during peak hours into the grid.

On the one hand fossil fuel companies are going nuts over this, as they are losing money big time because they can't shut off their power plants when PV is outcompeting them, and so their lobbying firms (including German media versions of The Sun and the Wall Street Journal) are working overtime to influence politicians and population. On the other hand it is becoming increasingly difficult for the grid (which could use an update) to take up the power that Wind and PV are offering.

The result of all this is that the German Parliament has decided to reduce (http://www.germanenergyblog.de/?p=9039) the feed-in tariff faster than anticipated. Now all the PV companies are going nuts, of course. On top of that the feed-in tariff only applies to a maximum of 70% of produced energy. This is pushing (home) owners of PV arrays towards options where some of the surplus energy that is produced by their PV array gets stored for later use, to increase total self-use as feeding into the grid is no longer lucrative. The Germans are now designing a storage subsidy to stimulate this trend.

Even though I'm no longer living in Germany, but in neighbouring Austria, I find the while concept of PV combined with storage very interesting. I try to find a balance between what is good for me and what is good for society. By incorporating storage into my PV concept I can increase my self-use from 20-30% to at least 60-70%, which is much more efficient than consuming power from far away (especially if it's from fossil fuels).  At the same time I'm relieving the grid somewhat during peak hours. That all sounds great, but getting there is not so simple.

More and more all-in-one solutions are offered that consist of batteries and the required hardware and controllers that make sure produced PV power first goes to appliances, then fills the battery and when the battery is full, feeds the grid, or when there isn't enough PV+battery power, grid power is used. This is of course more complicated that just a PV array and an inverter that feeds the grid.

The problem with all-in-one solutions is that they are quite expensive. Battery storage hasn't yet reached the point where it makes sense economically. I'm obviously doing it for other reasons as well, but not at any price. There is one relatively cheap solution from the Netherlands called PowerRouter (http://powerrouter.com/), which is pretty cool, but there's one big downside for me:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-S2mAgofQe8k/UTy2w5niKWI/AAAAAAAAAUQ/mJBlv9RgQrc/s500/tn_Powerrouter3.jpg)

All the functions of the PowerRouter are wrapped up together, just like a laptop. Laptops are great, but when one component breaks down, you can throw away the whole machine most of the time. Making a system of several components is probably a tad more expensive because you need more stuff, see for instance the PowerRouter compared to a set-up with components from SMA:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-YcN2yiyDflQ/UTy2wynO0HI/AAAAAAAAAUU/TELg-8p4HXY/s500/tn_Powerrouter2.jpg)

The SMA Smart Home system (http://www.sma.de/en/solutions/medium-power-solutions/sma-smart-home.html) would basically work like this:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-onUcmIxbacQ/UUDaj8-nKyI/AAAAAAAAAV4/97trKVH3fcw/s500/SMA%2520Sunny%2520Island.jpg)

I have looked into this and discussed it a bit on a German PV forum, but the main problem of a system consisting of several components, is the central controller that makes sure everything works well and in an orderly fashion. One other option is that you dispense with feeding into the grid, you're basically running an off-grid operation that uses the grid as a back-up when PV+battery can't cover needs. For instance another Dutch company called Victron (that produces a lot of off-grid stuff for boats etc) has this system:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-BltgEC-ARwU/UTz-qOSjFiI/AAAAAAAAAU8/LpPccHjkLrM/s640/Victron%2520Quattro.jpg)

The advantages are that your system is simpler and you don't need an additional feed-in meter, which also saves on paperwork. What I dislike, is that your surplus power goes to waste, which really is a waste. That power - even if it's just 500-1500 kWh a year - could be used to replace fossil fuels. So this isn't an option for me ATM.

Other than the simple semi-off-grid systems there are very little solutions on offer, in the sense that you can go to an online shop where you just pick out all the components (like you do when building your own PC), which is why I'm forced to look into an all-in-one solution.

More on what I want in the following comment...
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 17, 2013, 01:23:36 PM
Basically what I want, is a 4-5 kWp PV array, combined with a 4-5 kWh battery system to enable me and my family to use 70% of the power that is produced by the solar panels. Here's a calculation to show the economics of the added battery storage system. Let's say I have a PV array that produces 4000 kWh a year, exactly the amount of electricity I consume each year. In the first example I have no battery system and use 30% of produced PV power directly. The rest of the power I use (from the grid), costs € 0,20 per kWh, which is offset by the € 0,06 I get as a feed-in tariff here in Austria. In the second example the battery storage system increases self-use to 70%.

1) Self-use 30%: 1200 kWh = € 0
Consumption - Feed-in = 2800 kWh x € 0,14 = € 392

2) Self-Use 70%: 2800 kWh = € 0
Consumption - Feed-in = 1200 kWh x € 0,14 = € 168

Difference: € 224 a year.

According to my calculations for what a battery system will approximately cost me (€ 4000-5000) it will take 20 years to pay off the investment. I can accept that. Energy prices are going to go up, feed-in tariffs will probably disappear altogether or get very low, energy spikes need to be dampened through storage, and the most compelling argument for me: decentralized energy (and food) production - even if less efficient - is good for democracy. Oh yeah, and I find it cool to use energy that was produced by my own home.

So what about those batteries? Maybe I haven't looked into it enough, but there are basically three options for me: Lead-acid batteries (LA), Nickel-iron batteries (NiFe) or Lithium-iron-Phosphate batteries (LiFePO4).

---

Oops, I'm running out of time. I will edit this comment later tonight.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on March 17, 2013, 03:52:32 PM
Neven

Definitely share your distrust of bundled systems where individual components can't be upgraded or repaired without tossing everything. Old gas heating systems, at least in North America, had all the safety cutouts as individual components that could be replaced when they failed at a wholesale cost of <$15 per component. The new improved systems wrap all the safeties and control components together on a solid state board. When any one component fails the whole thing is replaced for >$175.

It makes diagnosing problems slightly easier - "Something is wrong with the beast & we'll put in a new one' as opposed to " Your flame sensor is defective & we'll put in a new sensor" - but the costs to the customer are outrageous, and the bundled component is only available if the company producing it is still in business (the individual parts are generic).

Is there any way to set up a neighborhood power sharing system where any individual that had
surplus power could share it with a few like minded others? I realize that if the sun isn't shining at your house it probably isn't shining at your neighbors, but I was thinking of situations where someone might be on vacation or possibly where someone had a small wind installation and could borrow power from another that was using PV, only to pay it back at night.

Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 19, 2013, 01:13:09 PM
Sorry about the time delay. I spent all my time off in the past two days reading stuff about PV, and then again, and again, and again. Slowly, very slowly I'm starting to get the gist. There are not many options yet, except for either expensive all-in-one solutions (where they charge big time for just one small controlling unit that makes sure everything works well) or the PowerRouter I presented earlier that is relatively cheap, but looks like a laptop. The company is also fairly new in this arena, so no one knows how long the PowerRouter will last.

I expect more companies to offer solutions with their own components soon, like the SMA Smart Home system I alluded to in my previous comment. This is the only component-based system that I have found so far that enables you to feed into the grid and take power from the grid when PV and battery can't supply enough. You basically need an inverter that transforms the DC from the solar panel array to AC for your appliances, an off-grid inverter converts that back to 48V DC to charge the batteries and feeds surplus energy into the grid, with the help of an energy manager and one or two meters that tell the off-grid inverter when to do so or when to convert the battery DC power back to AC (this is the part that makes the 'DC Coupling' slightly less efficient, but 'AC Coupling' has other downsides, like being less efficient when it comes to direct use).

I didn't look into the SMA system properly because I thought it would be very expensive. Turns out it is only € 500 more expensive than the PowerRouter, but with much better quality components (SMA is one of the top producers of solar stuff) that can be replaced. So I have at least one other option now besides the PowerRouter, and hopefully other companies (like Steca-Studer) will soon follow.

So now for the batteries. One of the most important criteria for me is the environmental aspect of batteries. They cost a lot of energy to produce, and it's only because they allow me to use more of my own PV produced power instead of inefficient grid power that they are an option for me, aside from the increased independence-argument. But the impact on the environment has to be as small as possible, which of course is difficult to achieve. I've tried and read several scientific papers on the subject, but there is no conclusive info on the matter. It leads me to conclude that there is no good solution out there at the moment, only less bad ones. Which one is the least bad?

Lead-acid batteries aren't an option for me, unless it's used golf cart batteries or something like that. Yes, they are the cheapest solution, also because they have been around the longest and there's a whole infrastructure behind them (a bit like with fossil fuels), but they don't last long most of the time and they're toxic. Sure, in the US and EU most lead-acid batteries are recycled more or less properly (even though in the US 3% ends up in landfills), but by buying lead-acid batteries, you're giving your money to companies that can then offer their cheap lead-acid batteries in third world countries where the lack of a national grid increases the demand for PV+battery solutions. But they don't have any recycling facilities there either, so where do you think most of those batteries end up?

Just a few weeks ago I translated a programme that was about the toxic legacy of Swiss landfills and industrial zones. Switzerland, one of the most civilized, richest and smartest countries in the world, has thousands of places that are incredibly toxic and leak the most horrible stuff into the groundwater tables, streams, rivers and lakes. This will cost tens of billions, hundreds even, to clean up. And they're not cleaning it up properly because it's just too expensive.

So the choice (for me ATM) is between Nickel-Iron batteries (NiFe) and Lithium iron phosphate batteries (LiFeYPO4). Now, at first I was very impressed by NiFe batteries. They're a bit like lead-acid batteries, big and slow, but without the nasty toxic stuff and much longer lasting. The NiFe battery was invented and further developed by Thomas Edison. Some of the batteries that were produced by the Edison company are still around today and functioning after 40-60 years. The Edison company was bought by a large lead-acid battery manufacturer in the 70's that basically shut the whole operation down after a few years (too expensive, or because NiFe batteries were much too good, killing the lead-acid battery market, as the conspiracy theory goes). Since then NiFe batteries are only produced by one Chinese and a Russian company.

When you search for NiFe batteries on the Internet, you quickly bump into websites that present it as the best thing since sliced bread that was suppressed for a long time, but now making a come-back. The NiFe battery is presented as an environmentally sound technology that is basically indestructible. Unfortunately it sounds a bit too good to be true. Although NiFe is definitely a big improvement over lead-acid (except for the price), there are some downsides to it too. Most of them are discussed in this long, but interesting PV forum thread (http://www.solarpaneltalk.com/showthread.php?3381-Nickel-Iron-vs-Lead-Acid-Off-Grid-battery-debate), which starts with a lot of advertising by a NiFe seller, but then gets more realistic.

The batteries have an electrolyte of potassium hydroxide, which is relatively okay environmentally speaking (I believe you can also make soap and shampoo with that stuff) and depending on how you treat your batteries (how much you charge and discharge) you have to replace it every 5-10 years. When getting charged the batteries gas hydrogen, which means that every few weeks you have to top them up again with distilled water. So there's a bit of maintenance involved with the batteries, which is a bit of a turn off for me. Basically it's best not to charge them over 80% capacity (otherwise they gas more), and not discharge them under 50% (or the electrolyte gets spent quicker), which means you can only use 30% of their capacity if you want to get the most out of them longevity-wise.

The Edison NiFe batteries are very long-lasting. There are folks over in the US who buy old ones, repair them, put in new electrolyte, and they're ready for use again, sometimes with the same capacity as before. But I'm not so sure the Chinese and Russian versions are just as good. All of the marketing stuff that is done by US re-sellers is dispelled in the Chinese product documents. You can't charge or discharge them however which way you like, it's best to use only 30% of the capacity, and even then it's not sure how much longer than 20 years they will last. Yes, the metals used for the battery (nickel and iron) are relatively abundant and not difficult to recycle, but the Chinese and Russians add lithium hydroxide to their batteries to improve certain characteristics, and that's not nearly as harmless as potassium hydroxide someone told me.

So after all my research I've switched from this old technology to the newest of technologies. On the market, that is, as every month or so we hear something new about a revolutionary technology involving nano-graphite or superhyperultracapacitators. I believe right now lithium iron yttrium phosphate is the way to go for my PV battery storage system. More on that below.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 19, 2013, 01:59:36 PM
There's plenty of lithium for the foreseeable future, but like all metals it has to be dug out and refined and what not. Unfortunately a lot of it is used to make batteries for electronic gadgets, but that's what you get in a consumer culture. The famous lithium-ion batteries have a fantastic energy density that makes them very useful for electric vehicles, but there have been some cons as well. For instance, there's a danger they blow up when overcharged, and the main reason they're not environmentally friendly is because of some of the metals used, notably toxic cobalt.

But this goes for the lithium cobalt dioxide LiCoO2 batteries which are now slowly, but surely being replaced by improved lithium iron phosphate, or LiFePO4, batteries. Like it says on Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_iron_phosphate_battery): "LiFePO4 batteries have somewhat lower energy density than the more common LiCoO2 design found in consumer electronics, but offers longer lifetimes, better power density (the rate that energy can be drawn from them) and are inherently safer." Doping the material with Yttrium enhances these characteristics.

Even if LiFeYPO4 is more energy-intensive and less environmentally friendly than NiFe on a per kg basis, my battery system would need much less of it (84 kg versus 640 kg). Also when it comes to longevity, I think the LiFeYPO4 batteries won't last much less longer than the NiFe batteries. According to manufacturers LiFeYPO4 batteries have 2000 cycles with a DOD (depth of discharge) of 80%, and 3000 cycles with a DOD of 70%. To compensate for the PR of these numbers I'm planning on taking a tad more batteries to be able to limit the batteries to a DOD of 60% or even 50%. With 300 full cycles a year - probably not even that - the batteries should in principle be able to last over 15 years, after which they would still have 80% of their capacity left. Last but not least, the LiFeYPO4 batteries cost 30% less than the NiFe batteries, and I can get the latter ones relatively cheap through an Austrian gentleman who wants to sell them by collecting orders and then order large batches in Russia.

However, there is one thing that makes the LiFeYPO4 batteries more expensive than just the price for the batteries, and that's the necessary battery management system, which adds around 20% to the total cost. This is something I'm looking into right now.

---

So now I've basically told you all my ideas for the house we're hopefully going to build in a couple of months from now. None of these ideas are set in stone, although time is slowly running out for any drastic changes. First off my loam stove builder is coming back from holiday at the end of the week, and so I can finally discuss my idea of a stove that can also heat water. This will affect all of the decisions wrt energy production and consumption. We will also start getting offers from the 5-6 building companies, and pray every evening they're within our budget (they just need to build the frame, with insulation and windows in, and we will do the rest ourselves).

I will keep you up-to-date on the theory and then the reality.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 19, 2013, 04:01:04 PM
We will also start getting offers from the 5-6 building companies, and pray every evening they're within our budget (they just need to build the frame, with insulation and windows in, and we will do the rest ourselves).

I will keep you up-to-date on the theory and then the reality.
Neven, please do - I'd like to hear how it all comes together.

I'm not sure how much experience you have "shopping" for a builder/contractor...
Or if the bidding process is the same where you are as it is here...

Be wary of taking the lowest bids - "customer service" counts for a lot in a project like this.
Be sure to clearly define what the builder's responsibilities will be and that any sub-trades they bring in will be clearly informed about what your expectations are (this is where good planning on your part will really pay off).
I'm guessing that in Austria there are many more builders familiar with a holistic approach to building (ie, the concept of a house as a system) - over here, finding a builder with this perspective can be problematic.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 19, 2013, 10:10:18 PM
I'm not sure how much experience you have "shopping" for a builder/contractor...
Or if the bidding process is the same where you are as it is here...

I don't have much experience with it, except for when let a house in the Netherlands get renovated by the father of a friend of ours (no bidding) and all of it turned our more expensive than initially projected.

We basically sent several contractors our plans and then went over for a chat, explaining what we wanted basically, and they informed us how they build most of the time (all of them bar one advised us to use cellulose as an insulator). We told all of them more or less the same, and also that we wanted their bid to be divided into several categories, not just one price for everything. I know what materials approximately cost, and I can guess how much work it is for professionals, so we'll see how much they're throwing on top of that.

Quote
Be wary of taking the lowest bids - "customer service" counts for a lot in a project like this.
Be sure to clearly define what the builder's responsibilities will be and that any sub-trades they bring in will be clearly informed about what your expectations are (this is where good planning on your part will really pay off).

Definitely. Hopefully the contractor that appealed most to us has a price that falls within our budget.

Quote
I'm guessing that in Austria there are many more builders familiar with a holistic approach to building (ie, the concept of a house as a system) - over here, finding a builder with this perspective can be problematic.

Well, I'd say they have a tradition of building with wood, and most of them didn't give me funny looks when I explained what our aim was (an ecological passive blah blah house). Ecological materials and low-energy homes have become mainstream a while ago, although most houses on offer are still too big and filled with too much high-tech and unnecessary stuff to my taste. But again, blame consumer culture for that.

That's funny, I inadvertently made a typo: consumer vulture.  :D
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 22, 2013, 11:54:23 PM
That's funny, I inadvertently made a typo: consumer vulture.  :D
Neven,
Typo or "Freudian slip"?  ;)

You've put down some interesting ideas for your project and I find I'm still digesting most of it.

In the meantime, I thought you might find the following presentation interesting.
It was given by Alaskan builder Thorsten Chlupp at a PH conference a few years ago.
http://passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/2010_Passive_House_Conference_Presentations,_November_6_files/2010%20Conference-Passiv%20Haus%20Alaska-Thorsten%20Chlupp.pdf (http://passivehouse.us/passiveHouse/2010_Passive_House_Conference_Presentations,_November_6_files/2010%20Conference-Passiv%20Haus%20Alaska-Thorsten%20Chlupp.pdf)

Herr Chlupp was kind enough to respond to many of my queries about his approach in this thread:
http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/community/forum/general-questions/19942/sunrise-home (http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/community/forum/general-questions/19942/sunrise-home)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 23, 2013, 03:01:49 AM
We received our first offer today. I have to recalculate their numbers, but it fits our budget, so that's good. Another contractor made a better impression, so I hope he's not (much) more expensive. My loam guy has returned from his three-week solitary wanderings through China, so I'm giving him a call tomorrow to ask about the water-heating loam oven.

Awesome stuff over there in Alaska, and I also take my hat off to you guys really discussing the details. It's the places where you have transitions, from windows to walls, walls to ceilings, roofs to walls, etc, that matter the most. I thought about delving into that, but first of all I have little hands-on experience (and I know about the shortcomings of theory), and second of all we're going to build with a contractor anyway. For a moment I thought about building myself, but I couldn't find a proper place or some old, experienced guy to help me (Austrians like to play it safe, especially with foreigners), and of course it would be suicide. Just doing the interior of the house, the flooring and the kitchen may finish me off.  ;D
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on March 23, 2013, 04:54:30 AM
It's the places where you have transitions, from windows to walls, walls to ceilings, roofs to walls, etc, that matter the most. I thought about delving into that, but first of all I have little hands-on experience (and I know about the shortcomings of theory), and second of all we're going to build with a contractor anyway.
Neven,
You're right about the transitions being important...
Even if you won't be doing the work yourself, at least you have a good idea about what to look for and can keep an eye on your builder.

Oh, and I'm not a professional either - just a bit crazy  ;)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: conrad on March 25, 2013, 01:33:08 PM
I'm meeting with an agent from SolarCity today re my one family house. Does anyone know anything or dealt with this firm?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on April 21, 2013, 11:26:56 PM
A short update on the whole house building project: We've now received offers from six companies, three of which didn't appeal to us for various reasons. The offers weren't as high as feared, but not as low as hoped either. We now have to see whether there's room to get prices down a bit, at the same time I'm looking into options over the border. But I'd rather build with a firm from around here as they know the region best and can do all the paper work.

We have to decide who we want to build with before the month is out, than make a more detailed plan in May and hopefully build in August. It's going to be difficult to do it all within our budget, but isn't it always like that?

I've been talking and thinking about the whole loam stove idea a lot more, reading a couple of books and talking to the loam stove builder a couple of times. Unfortunately, the whole thing will cost too much, around 6000 euros, with another 1000 for the chimney, and another 1000 for the hot water tank with exchanger. So right now I think we'll go for the option where we prepare everything for a stove in case we definitely want one, and then try out a winter or two to see how it goes. I'm not worried about air temperatures in the house so much. I mostly wanted the whole thing to heat the water.

And so I'm looking into air-water heat pumps again. At first they didn't appeal to me because of the price and electronics (that could fail), but now I've found one with an exchanger built-in for solar thermal or wood stove, and it's not that much more expensive than the set-up I had in mind, but should save some electricity with a COP of 4. This would mean we need a bit over 10 kWh on a winter day instead of 15 kWh.
Title: Passivhaus - embodied carbon. Is it Large? Cause for concern.
Post by: GeoffBeacon on April 22, 2013, 08:00:14 PM
Does anyone measure the embodied CO2 in Passivhaus designs? Last time I looked they didn't.

Embodied CO2 can be very large for new building. Even so-called "zero energy" developments can create large amounts of CO2 in constructing them. Building a 100 square metre flat in the Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZed) created 67.5 tonnes of CO2e. See: http://www.nohighbuildings.org.uk/wordpress/?p=3 (http://www.nohighbuildings.org.uk/wordpress/?p=3).

The Green Ration Book has more details and references in its Resources section http://www.greenrationbook.org.uk/resources/ (http://www.greenrationbook.org.uk/resources/).  Look under  Carbon Footprint of Building Construction.

I have recently had an email from someone using the methodology of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. The new house he studied had 91 tonnes of CO2e,  including external works.

Also: Do wooden houses store carbon? http://www.nohighbuildings.org.uk/wordpress/?p=40 (http://www.nohighbuildings.org.uk/wordpress/?p=40)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on April 22, 2013, 08:15:42 PM
I believe it costs 20 times more energy to build a concrete and brick house than to build it with wood. I'll see if I can find a link for that assertion.

We first looked for a house to refurbish, but after almost three years of searching and a couple of failed attempts, we decided to go for the ecopassiveblahblah-house. Unfortunately, refurbishing isn't so easy, even if the conditions are good.

I wish I could live in a yurt, but I'm not that type.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Vergent on April 22, 2013, 09:44:21 PM
I believe it costs 20 times more energy to build a concrete and brick house than to build it with wood. I'll see if I can find a link for that assertion.
Difficult choice. Burn some coal or cut down the forest. Have you considered this?:

http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/making-adobe-bricks-zmaz81mazraw.aspx#axzz2RDt12PVa (http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/making-adobe-bricks-zmaz81mazraw.aspx#axzz2RDt12PVa)

A friend of mine lives on a family ranch. The adobe historical ranch house is over 300 years old, and is still in good shape.

V
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on April 22, 2013, 10:02:10 PM
I know a guy who built that way and he strongly advised me not to do that. Cost him 5 years of his life. I'm just not going to do that so that everyone around me can keep driving, flying, eating fast food, etc. as much as they want.

BTW, it's difficult to find numbers, but I believe 20 times less energy to build with wood is a bit exaggerated on my part.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ivica on April 22, 2013, 10:10:10 PM
Fast reading 7 pages of Making Adobe Bricks article I saw no mention of potential hazard working with asphalt.
"Hazard Review: Health Effects of Occupational Exposure to Asphalt"
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2001-110/pdfs/2001-110.pdf (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2001-110/pdfs/2001-110.pdf)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Vergent on April 22, 2013, 10:53:05 PM
I know a guy who built that way and he strongly advised me not to do that. Cost him 5 years of his life. I'm just not going to do that so that everyone around me can keep driving, flying, eating fast food, etc. as much as they want.

BTW, it's difficult to find numbers, but I believe 20 times less energy to build with wood is a bit exaggerated on my part.

Neven,

You deserve 100 tons of carbon credit for each of the following: ASIB, ASIG, and ASIF. Feel free to spend them building what suits you best.

Vergent

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on April 22, 2013, 11:50:53 PM
Neven,

You deserve 100 tons of carbon credit for each of the following: ASIB, ASIG, and ASIF. Feel free to spend them building what suits you best.

Vergent

Can someone send me the building plans of Al Gore's house?  ;)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Vergent on April 23, 2013, 04:24:49 AM
Can someone send me the building plans of Al Gore's house?  ;)

Which one?

http://infidelsarecool.com/2008/03/a-tale-of-two-houses/ (http://infidelsarecool.com/2008/03/a-tale-of-two-houses/)

Vergent
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: GeoffBeacon on April 23, 2013, 11:21:35 AM
Neven

Quote
I believe it costs 20 times more energy carbon to build a concrete and brick house than to build it with wood.

What if wood stores enough carbon to offset other elements of the construction - and it's doesn't cause more rainforest to be cut down?  Baufritz claim their houses to be carbon negative (but they call it positive!)

Quote
The carbon balance in an average Baufritz house is approximately 50 tonnes positive. This means that if the house is run efficiently using, for example, a combination of gas and solar power, the house will take around 78 years to reach the carbon neutral stage.

But how does a Baufritz carbon positive house compare to a net zero carbon house as set out by the new Code for Sustainable Homes? The definition of net zero carbon in this instance focuses largely on the running costs of the house once built and places minimal emphasis on the amount of embodied energy already in the building which has the most significant impact on the environment. At Baufritz our carbon positive homes take into account the additional carbon emissions generated during its manufacture, construction and transport – a more realistic and holistic view.

Baufritz also say

Quote
Only the best quality larch and spruce wood go into making a Baufritz home, logged from sustainable forests to provide resource for future generations. Baufritz undertakes extensive tree planting schemes to mark its active approach to environmental protection.

http://www.baufritz.co.uk/sustainable_ecology. (http://www.baufritz.co.uk/sustainable_ecology.)

Do we believe them? I'm tempted.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on April 23, 2013, 07:43:31 PM
Ahaa, I didn't understand that whole Baufritz text. Makes sense now.

I looked for some numbers, couldn't find anything, but 20 times less carbon makes more sense.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Vergent on May 09, 2013, 09:22:49 PM
Neven,

Have you considered This?

https://www.google.com/search?q=house+built+from+storage+containers&hl=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=tfOLUfP5CsaJjAKYuYBY&sqi=2&ved=0CEwQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=713 (https://www.google.com/search?q=house+built+from+storage+containers&hl=en&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=tfOLUfP5CsaJjAKYuYBY&sqi=2&ved=0CEwQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=713)

Vergent
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on May 09, 2013, 10:17:39 PM
Actually, I did. There's even a company in Austria that offers modular homes. In the end it wasn't really much cheaper, there's a lot of metal and polyurethane insolation involved (sandwiched between the metal sheets), and well, I'm a sucker for wood. I think it's an awesome building material that stores carbon for a long time.

I feel sorry for the trees though. Maybe a bit crazy to say that, but they're so majestic, and Carl Sagan says they're our cousins, and they helped defeat that crazy wizard from Mordor.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: johnm33 on May 09, 2013, 11:35:32 PM
I've no idea what the building regs allow in Austria, or in the UK anymore, but strawbale houses rendered with lime mix are growing in popularity [?]. This is my favourite ever building show http://www.channel4.com/programmes/grand-designs/pictures/sussex-woodsman-house-gallery/651d9cc5-037d-4b0a-a4c1-b640120dc8d4 (http://www.channel4.com/programmes/grand-designs/pictures/sussex-woodsman-house-gallery/651d9cc5-037d-4b0a-a4c1-b640120dc8d4) but very labour intensive.
 There are numerous suppliers of prefabricated homes in Germany and Scandinavia, where all the local builder does is lay the foundations, and they go from foundation to completion in a couple of weeks, once delivered.
This forum http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/forum114/ (http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/forum114/) seems very informed and level headed you don't have to join to search, but if you have specific questions its worth joining. I remember a long exchange ala ick/ick that completely changed my opinion on wooden buildings, much to my suprise wood, by volume, seems to be a much better store of heat than dense concrete, all comes down to hydrogen bonds! [saline water's better].
This site http://www.viking-house.co.uk/index.html (http://www.viking-house.co.uk/index.html) considers all sorts of possibilities, with detail drawings.
As to finding the right builder I suggest you look for someone who's  'run off his feet'.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Laurent on May 10, 2013, 09:55:33 AM
Have you ever consider the GREB method ?
http://www.approchepaille.fr/pdf/straw-bale-building-greb.pdf (http://www.approchepaille.fr/pdf/straw-bale-building-greb.pdf)
Very smart !
Strangely I find nearly nothing in English (I know it does come from Quebec) !?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on May 10, 2013, 10:16:47 AM
Johnm33, I saw that house in a series I watched called The World's Greenest Homes. It was one of the few interesting buildings there.

I considered building with strawbale, but as it was too much of a hassle with organizing the bales (make sure they're the right size and density, etc) and very labour intensive, I decided against it. Although straw bale is great, in my view it's not as green or eco as made out to be. First of all a lot of biomass is removed from a field which has to be replenished, and as conventional straw is better than organic chances are that this replenishment will have the form of synthetic fertilizer. Straw is still a very green building material though.

I will use a lime plaster though on the exterior walls, and a loam plaster on the interior walls.

Laurent, that looks like an interesting building method, never saw it before. If I'd had the knowledge and experience to build with straw bale I probably would've taken it on. Unfortunately when you don't, it's an expensive way to build over here in Austria. Only a few people know how to do it and they also know how to charge green city people with a rural fantasy.

---

Update on our building project: We've found a contractor to build the house. In coming weeks we're making a more detailed design for the building permit, and then the house will probably be built somewhere in August/September. We now know approximately how much the whole thing is going to cost, which is why I have to let go of a couple of things like the wood stove, the battery storage system and probably some other stuff as well. I'm adamant about building a compost toilet though!
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Laurent on May 10, 2013, 10:27:43 AM
There is also the method cst (cellule sous tension) (constrained cell)
Invented by Tom Rijven (I think) http://www.habitatvegetal.com/ (http://www.habitatvegetal.com/)
I don't find english docs !!! There is plenty in french !!!
I see you did already choose someone ! In strawbale building like this they generaly invite people to work freely (food and accomodation (tent) ) (I did that a few time).
The greb is build with some concrete (that is the problem), they seem to have tryed different materials (i would not recommend plaster (with greb), it won't be strong enough)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on August 27, 2013, 02:36:03 AM
Hey Neven,
How's your project coming along?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on August 27, 2013, 12:57:47 PM
Hi Lucas,

The foundation work is almost done, there's just some piles of soil that need to be redistributed on the plot. After the weekend they're going to start prefabbing the house, and it will be constructed from the 10th to the 14th of September. They will then put the windows in and a lime mortar comes on the outer walls. The house will be more or less finished on the outside, and I will then continue on the inside.

Most things have been prepared now, but I still need to find a good plumber, and have to solve some problems with the green roof.

I'll post some images later tonight.

N.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on August 27, 2013, 09:50:14 PM
Okay, so this is what it looked like a couple of weeks (there's more images in the resuscitated field thread):

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-OmsdlqSvOis/Uhz23YGbRdI/AAAAAAAAA_0/OJgpzUB03Os/s500/tn_DSC03276.JPG)

They dug a bit and then drilled twenty-one 1 meter deep holes:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-uQHUJ949Jwo/Uhz5CMtcTpI/AAAAAAAABAM/Q_d7h8kSQ3Q/s500/tn_DSC03312.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-NfZOyPg92vA/Uhz5CU_GtnI/AAAAAAAABAQ/Zn1HRuB2Wcs/s500/tn_DSC03313.JPG)

These holes were filled with concrete:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-p25x8-me2cM/Uhz5s3pxfDI/AAAAAAAABAg/kg0NkzbtJr0/s500/tn_DSC03550.JPG)

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-EZ2GWoAWBzE/Uhz5s8n5_CI/AAAAAAAABAc/2ENpc9jJjBk/s500/tn_DSC03555.JPG)

On top of the concrete in the holes they put kind of like a big toilet paper roll filled with rebar and some more concrete:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-oR7pZ2XAC0U/Uhz6ASh_m0I/AAAAAAAABAw/rIXfpXhWH_c/s500/tn_DSC03606.JPG)

Then we had to put in the different pipes for all kinds of stuff, which was a bit complicated:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-QmNx_hAeLyA/Uhz8hKhFgaI/AAAAAAAABA8/wUC7Au2z8-g/s500/tn_DSC03623.JPG)

And this is how things look as of today:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-NUkW9Zc406M/Uhz9VRlUTGI/AAAAAAAABBc/3o5q7NKhsow/s500/tn_DSC03652.JPG)

All the dirt (still some more coming from the rain water tank and the pond) now has to be rearranged around the house to compensate for the slight slope. This needs 1-2 days more work. In the meantime they're going to start pre-fabricating the house next week. It will be built mid-September, which leaves us two weeks to get the outside ready for fall/winter.

We haven't surpassed our budget by much so far, and hopefully it'll stay that way. I've had to put a couple of ideas in the fridge (like a compost toilet, constructed wet land, greenhouse, etc), but managed to make preparations to keep options open for the near future.

How about your house, Lucas? Any changes there? Didn't check out your blog lately, sorry to say. I'm going to have a look right now.  :)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on August 27, 2013, 09:55:57 PM
Nice chicken coop (http://ourhouseuponmoosehill.blogspot.ca/2013/08/catching-up-with-those-chickens.html), Lucas! We hope to have one of those two years from now.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on August 28, 2013, 09:48:06 PM
Looks like a nice setting you have there Neven - a pretty landscape.
I'll bet it's exciting to be breaking ground after all your planning.

By the look of things, your house will be built on top of a pier foundation...
Is this common in your area?
Looks like you're building on clay...
Is it an "expansive" clay?
Pier foundations are not uncommon on the Canadian prairie because of expansive clay soils, but usually these piers are much deeper than 1m.

As for my own house, things have been moving a bit more slowly than I would like...
C'est la vie.
And there's nothing wrong with putting some of your ideas "in the fridge" for now - my own fridge is chock-a-block full of ideas waiting for their time ;-)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on August 28, 2013, 09:51:12 PM
Oh, and I highly recommend the "chicken experience".
It was a fair bit of work to get the coop set up but it has also been a lot of fun.
Now we're just waiting for the eggs!
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on August 29, 2013, 08:01:30 AM
Looks like a nice setting you have there Neven - a pretty landscape.
I'll bet it's exciting to be breaking ground after all your planning.

You bet. I'm so tired of thinking about everything, reaching conclusions, find out some problem with the conclusion, re-thinking it, again and again and again. Literally ad nauseam.  :)

Quote
By the look of things, your house will be built on top of a pier foundation...
Is this common in your area?

Not really, no. We were in fact lucky to find a company who can and was willing to build such a foundation. They did it twice elsewhere, but not in this region.

The reason we preferred to do it like this, is that it takes a lot less concrete than a slab (which is by far the most popular way of building here in Austria) and you don't need any synthetic insulation material to cover your concrete slab from below. Another advantage is that your floor is really well insulated, because we're putting a 14 inch thick insulated wooden 'slab' on the piers, with about 5 inches of air below it.

The only big disadvantage is that the floor of your house is pretty high up from ground level, which means you need a couple of flights to get into your house, and to have a view of the garden you need to get close to the window etc.

And of course the foundation needs to remain stable!

Quote
Looks like you're building on clay...
Is it an "expansive" clay?
Pier foundations are not uncommon on the Canadian prairie because of expansive clay soils, but usually these piers are much deeper than 1m.

I'm not an expert on differences in soil, but in the region where we live soils are very loamy. The firm that lays the foundation, said that the piers need to reach below the frost line, and 1 metre is enough. The frost line is probably lower on the Canadian prairie.

Either way, the soil is very compacted because of decades of agriculture and heavy machines running over it. The guy who drilled the holes needed quite a bit of time to drill those suckers. The farmer who tilled this field had already told me that the subsoil was very firm. So hopefully it will be enough for our house.

Yesterday all of that soil lying around has been re-arranged around the house, and so the whole thing is getting more of a definite structure:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-ij-rFCP7GsM/Uh7eagFtETI/AAAAAAAABCU/ptnF0NSzhNo/s500/tn_DSC03670.JPG)

Now it's onto the house!
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on August 29, 2013, 11:12:32 PM
Yeah the frost line in eastern Ontario is about 2m deep (or was before climate change). Water and sewer lines have to be installed 2m below grade to ensure they don't freeze. The Canadian prairies are colder so likely need even deeper foundations.

I'm excited about my latest project! A PV array on my house roof was just completed this week. I had a solar hot water system installed up there in 2009 to preheat my domestic hot water to reduce natural gas usage before PV was affordable here. The PV is covered by Ontario's feed in tariff so 100% of the power generated is sent into the grid and the income will (I hope) pay off the system reasonably quickly. So far it has been pretty cloudy but I'm still generating at least double the electricity I consume.

If you are interested in seeing the output there's a public website. http://goo.gl/qJp1mv (http://goo.gl/qJp1mv)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on September 01, 2013, 08:39:22 PM
Neven,
You'd know if you are building on an expansive clay - it's a pretty extreme soil type (very unstable).
Wetting/drying cycles in the soil cause it to expand and contract significantly and can ruin concrete foundations in only a few years time.

If you have time, I would be interested to see pictures of how the floor is framed over those piers.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on September 01, 2013, 08:48:44 PM
So far it has been pretty cloudy...
ghoti,
I hear ya.
This has been the rainiest summer I've ever seen here on the northwest shore of lake Superior.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on September 01, 2013, 08:57:51 PM
Neven,
You'd know if you are building on an expansive clay - it's a pretty extreme soil type (very unstable).
Wetting/drying cycles in the soil cause it to expand and contract significantly and can ruin concrete foundations in only a few years time.

If you have time, I would be interested to see pictures of how the floor is framed over those piers.

In that case, I'm pretty sure this isn't expansive clay.

I'll make those pictures as soon as they start constructing the house, and post them here.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JimD on September 16, 2013, 07:04:25 PM
Here you go Neven.

$10M house ready for wrecker

One of the evil empire Cargill heirs has bought an 8500 st ft house for 10 million and is going to tear it down to build a 9095 st ft home with a 2086 sq ft guest house (you could trade up to the guest house  :)  Not only that but the house to be demolished was designed by a world famous architect. 

http://www.startribune.com/local/west/210720631.html (http://www.startribune.com/local/west/210720631.html)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on September 16, 2013, 10:00:53 PM
I have seen a similar thing happen near my father's summer house in Croatia. A quite nice villa was bought by a Canadian pizza millionaire (with Croatian roots), torn down and replaced by a horrible white cake. The guy built a tennis court, b-ball court and his own private harbour which he wasn't allowed to do. Crazy stuff...

Things are going slow, slow, slow over here. But today we finished the water tank, and pre-fabrication starts tomorrow. They should start building by Friday. I'll post some pics.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on September 23, 2013, 08:53:23 PM
Past three days have been very intense. It's insane how fast they're building this thing now that they have finally started.

Here's some images:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-lzgo2zKY_30/UkCL8sQrYxI/AAAAAAAABD0/Ucj26Z3f1fU/s500/tn_DSC04033.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-3xC94BU98-E/UkCL94_DeBI/AAAAAAAABEM/GGfJ0LqYQQw/s500/tn_DSC04065.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-upS-uJRNGDw/UkCL-jMoCaI/AAAAAAAABEc/HtWKYNbd5gk/s500/tn_DSC04092.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-zUrTjJk9keE/UkCMAF-HRJI/AAAAAAAABE8/UNYOxVW-R_k/s500/tn_DSC04162.JPG)

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-S9mB6OUBJZ8/UkCMBJmA-KI/AAAAAAAABFU/basb7BXU11k/s500/tn_DSC04241.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-a9vw98qeLQs/UkCMCYB-T2I/AAAAAAAABFo/YRtk8WyzPGo/s500/tn_DSC04273.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-WfG0YU8D5Ys/UkCMC1oU33I/AAAAAAAABF0/UH7qUFwHPlg/s500/tn_DSC04296.JPG)

A lot still needs to be done, but I've decided to take things as slow as I can afford to. Mistakes slip in easily, especially due to sloppy communication. The firm building the house, all of a sudden decided to overrule my wishes for the small green roof, without notifying me. That's a bit of a fait accompli now, as they say in French.

But anyway, roof will get finished this week, as well as the windows put in, etc. I'll post some more images to give an idea, but I'm looking forward to start implementing some of those ideas I've been planning and perhaps post some images/drawings/data.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JimD on September 25, 2013, 06:27:57 PM
Hey Neven

What is the orientation of the house?  I notice one side has lots of windows (South?) and the others less to only one.

Is the top level also livable space?

Do you live in a heavy snow region?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on September 25, 2013, 10:51:14 PM
Hey Neven

What is the orientation of the house?  I notice one side has lots of windows (South?) and the others less to only one.

The side with the windows is about 25° to the West (where South is 0°). We decided to turn the house a bit, because 1) the view is nicer, 2) we have more space in front of the house, 3) it can get quite foggy over here in autumn and winter. Because the fog dissipates after noon, it's useful to be oriented more towards the west for the PV solar array and solar gains through the windows. One minor reason is that there's a train track running along the back of our plot (just 20 small trains a day, going slow), and the house is now parallel to that.

Quote
Is the top level also livable space?

It will be after I've insulated and decorated it coming spring, but it's not part of the extra well-insulated living spaces below (85 square metres) where we live and work. Upstairs we have 65 square metres that will be used as a guest room/my wife's Alexander Technique practice.

Quote
Do you live in a heavy snow region?

Not really, though it has been more snowy in the past couple of years (or so I've been told, as I've been here for 3 years now). This year there was quite a bit of snow, for quite a long time as well. Southern Styria is supposed to be the warmest and driest part of Austria.

---

Today the outer walls have been filled up with cellulose, and the roof has been closed and made ready for the roofing tiles which will be installed tomorrow, together with the windows and front door. Things are still going really fast.

Off to bed early tonight. Finally an evening where I don't have to work.  :)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JimD on September 25, 2013, 11:28:47 PM
Neven

Re:  Alexander Technique

I had never heard of that.  After looking it up I have a question for your wife if you don't mind.

I broke my back really badly in an accident about 16 months ago.  As you might imagine I have a lot of pain from the lower disks which are located below the set of vertebrates which are now held together with rods, screws and bone grafts.

I read on the Wiki page that it helps with chronic back pain, but mine is not just normal back pain though such phrasing does usually refer to disk problems I think.  Does this technique work on things like painful disks in situations similar to mine?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on September 26, 2013, 01:16:32 AM
Hi Neven,
Thanks for sharing those pictures - very cool.

They reminded me of this old Lumar video which was a great inspiration to me early on, when I was still planning my own project:
LUMAR pasivna hiša (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBQHBr7zn0M#)

Prefab has so much to offer when it comes to energy efficient building.
It really seems a shame that it hasn't ever taken off here in N.A. like it has in Europe.
In my opinion, Europeans are light-years ahead of us here when it comes to energy efficient building.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Clare on September 28, 2013, 11:26:10 PM
Wonderful to see your house growing so quickly, how exciting for you all. Yes I know exhausting too. I know this has nothing whatever to do with your house but these pics reminded me of the prefab house Scott took to Antarctica & erected at Cape Evans.
 I make quilts so was very interested in seeing the 'quilted' insulation they inserted into the walls, it had seaweed as padding. & When I visited the hut, I saw it for myself!
(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2F&hash=35d7d5d7526c9897dfb55501e320295a)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Clare on September 28, 2013, 11:27:57 PM
(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2F&hash=35d7d5d7526c9897dfb55501e320295a)
Plus they used hay bales too( + food for the horses!)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on September 29, 2013, 08:31:39 PM
Quote
After looking it up I have a question for your wife if you don't mind.

I broke my back really badly in an accident about 16 months ago.  As you might imagine I have a lot of pain from the lower disks which are located below the set of vertebrates which are now held together with rods, screws and bone grafts.

I read on the Wiki page that it helps with chronic back pain, but mine is not just normal back pain though such phrasing does usually refer to disk problems I think.  Does this technique work on things like painful disks in situations similar to mine?
Hi Jim, sorry to hear about your back.  :'(

My wife gave me permission to tell you about the Alexander Technique.  ;)

AT is a tool that helps you become aware of certain patterns in the way you move and behave. Most of how we do things, is done unconsciously, but because of things that happen to us and influence us (conditioning), the way we use ourselves becomes detached from the way we were designed to function. We often don't notice this until later, or if we have to be proficient at some form of repetitive movement, which is why Alexander Technique is widely known amongst professional musicians and dancers. If for example you're a cellist who has to practice several hours a day to be able to play in some high-profile orchestra, and you use yourself (an AT expression) the wrong way, you might not be able to reach the necessary level because of pain, repetitive strain injuries, etc.

In your case the back pain might be influenced because you're used to using yourself in a certain way and now subconsciously try to compensate because things changed due to the accident. This might make things worse.

I don't know whether the AT could help relieve your back pain, but as a tool it's very useful in general. As you learn to become aware of the way you use yourself (which is conditioned), you then slowly start to learn from scratch how to improve these ingrained patterns. This is a fascinating (physically as well as intellectually) process, but not easy, of course, especially in the beginning.

Basically, an AT teacher guides you through very simple movements like sitting down in a chair, and also does work while you lay on a table. AT is pretty big in the UK, but also has quite a big society in the US. Maybe you could check if there's a teacher somewhere near you and do a couple of lessons (not treatments, because you're learning the technique so that you can apply it yourself) to try it out.

Personally, I think Frederick Matthias Alexander was a genius, a slightly eccentric one at that. The thinking behind his technique influenced my philosophy a lot. At the time when I met my wife, I was reading a lot of books by Aldous Huxley. At one point we chatted at work (that's how we met), I asked her what she did, and she said she was learning how to become an AT teacher. She told me a bit about what it was (feeling slightly embarrassed because it's difficult to explain in just one sentence) and somehow it reminded me of Aldous Huxley's last book, called Island.

Anyway, not long after our relationship started, I was flicking through one of her AT books and in the introduction it said that Huxley was one of Alexander's illustrious students. So it wasn't a coincidence that we met and took a liking to each other! Huxley wrote a great book called Ends and Means (here (http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3220076-ends-and-means-an-inquiry-into-the-nature-of-ideals-and-into-the-method) are a couple of quotes from the book) that was heavily inspired by the AT (though he only mentions on a couple of pages) where he predicted/warned about World War II. A couple of years ago I coincidentally found a copy of a first print of Ends and Means, signed by Huxley for FM Alexander, which I gave to my wife as a present:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-oWpLNRZ4WQo/UkhxhbDa4CI/AAAAAAAABJw/6wGQ60nv5F4/s400/HuxleyFM.JPG)

Oh, if only Huxley were alive today to say something incredibly smart about AGW... He later became friends with Jiddu Krishnamurti. Huxley, Alexander and Krishnamurti are my own personal holy trinity. I can't wait to finish this house and garden and get back to reading their writings.

But to return to your back problems. I think the AT can definitely help, but you'd have to try it out. It's a very useful technique. It might not relieve you completely of your back pain, but it will definitely help in not making it worse. Maybe combine it with a good osteopath?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on September 29, 2013, 08:54:50 PM
Back to the building. Here's how things currently look, roof and windows added:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-p_OfNWFF5I4/UkhylZHtofI/AAAAAAAABKQ/LsERATaYcgU/s500/tn_DSC04461.JPG)

Most big things are done, now it's about the details to get the outside of the house ready for winter. This weekend I've been busy preparing the pipes going into the house for insulation. This is something I've been asking the firms that built our foundation and house right at the very start. They didn't answer at the time, and it now turns out they don't really know (never having built a house like this before), so it's time for improvisation. Luckily, the pipes are all at the edge of the house, which makes it possible to still get to them. I cleared all the gravel around the pipes:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-Tm2FeTsPLrY/Ukhyll_KZ8I/AAAAAAAABKY/b_KNiib6r2o/s500/tn_DSC04464.JPG)

I put in some smaller gravel for drainage and put reductions on the pipes to make more room for insulation:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-dRMQOA-Zvq0/UkhymekSBXI/AAAAAAAABKo/DO_blCyDUqM/s500/tn_DSC04466.JPG)

This is how it looks from inside the house:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-oIfJFjP8h2o/UkhymYpoLaI/AAAAAAAABKk/sinjyok7eZU/s500/tn_DSC04468.JPG)

Basically they're going to build an installation shaft around the pipes and fill that up with insulation material, probably rock wool. If I had known they would improvise at the very end, I would've planned this myself in advance. But that's how it goes.  ;D

I've also been busy preparing the installation of the ventilation pipes for the heat recovery ventilation system I wrote about (http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,90.msg1337.html#msg1337) at the start of this thread. It's looking like this on the outside:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-qXlnbrDWUVw/Ukh2LqeMerI/AAAAAAAABLk/wnI0zqpSq90/s500/tn_DSC04453.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-VRMGatkO1rU/Ukh2LulIr3I/AAAAAAAABLg/wwjMhD20PuA/s500/tn_DSC04452.JPG)

I'll post images of details tomorrow (I really gave my best to get that part right, as it's so important), as they're on the camera that I left in our house.

Today and tomorrow there's quite a bit of rain, and because our green roof isn't ready yet, there's a leak right over our front door, not looking too good. Luckily, the contractor is coming tomorrow to do the pipe installation shaft stuff, and so he can have a look at that as well. I hope the insulation is still dry!  ???
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on September 29, 2013, 09:01:48 PM
Quote
They reminded me of this old Lumar video which was a great inspiration to me early on, when I was still planning my own project:

That's funny! I actually talked to Lumar as they were offering relatively cheap passive houses and I'm within 100 km of their main office. Unfortunately, they had just started a partnership with an Austrian prefab firm (who is offering their houses at a much steeper price, of course) and so they weren't allowed to deal directly with me.

Quote
I know this has nothing whatever to do with your house but these pics reminded me of the prefab house Scott took to Antarctica & erected at Cape Evans.

Amazing what those people were capable of at the time! Really incredible. But now that all of our beautiful Earth is explored, we must return to our gardens, further explore our minds and conserve what needs to be conserved...
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: idunno on November 02, 2013, 10:26:39 AM
Hi Neven,

Haven't seen fit to contribute to this thread so far, as I baulked at the adjective; the concept of an "interesting" building project is a new one for me - looks like a category error.

From the Guardian, on passivhauses;

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/01/cutting-energy-bills-oldham-passivhaus (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/01/cutting-energy-bills-oldham-passivhaus)

Personally, I can't afford to do anything like this. Instead I make a virtue of necessity by using the maximum amount of recycled/reused materials from the local tip; and reviving old pre-fossil fuel techniques, such as cob building.

On greenhouses, continuing from another thread...

1. If practical, consider building an internal solid wall at the north end, to act as a solar storage heater.

2. You are likely to lose a lot of plants to 1. mould and 2. scorching. For the first, try to work in a system of ventilation. For the second, I highly recommend using a vine, eg grape or kiwi, trained underneath the roof supports to provide deciduous shade, i.e. none in March, near total in August.

3. Rainwater harvesting is essential.

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on November 04, 2013, 01:52:42 AM
idunno,
I'm not sure I would call it a "category error" - unless things simply must be filed according to how each category is labeled...

In any case, "interesting" (as I intended it) only means different.
Cob building would certainly qualify and I would like to hear more about your experiences if you're intereted in sharing...
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ccgwebmaster on November 04, 2013, 02:11:33 AM
idunno,
I'm not sure I would call it a "category error" - unless things simply must be filed according to how each category is labeled...

In any case, "interesting" (as I intended it) only means different.
Cob building would certainly qualify and I would like to hear more about your experiences if you're intereted in sharing...

I've been wondering for some time about the title, but more under the building projects bit.

Does it count if it isn't a house? Everyone else seems to be speaking about houses. Do boats count as building projects, if one is doing enough construction and amateur engineering projects on a pre-existing hull?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on November 04, 2013, 02:40:11 AM
Ccg
I for one would be very interested in your nautical protection. I've always thought that the mobility offered could prove a huge asset in chaotic times.
Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on November 04, 2013, 04:16:15 AM
Hmm,
Sorry, I suppose I didn't really think about the title of this thread as something that needed to be categorized.

Ccg,
While a boat isn't a house, it can of course still be a home.
I would also be interested to hear what you're building.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: idunno on November 04, 2013, 10:24:25 AM
Well, there's the old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." And in that sense of the word...

My feeling is that there are two possible approaches to ecological building;

1. Modernistic: which is the approach more discussed above on this thread, and about which I can contribute little.

2. Traditional.

I look more for inspiration to very traditional approaches. I would guesstimate that my great-great-grandparents, all 16 of them combined, had a carbon-footprint similar or lower to a single individual living today. Yet evidence suggests that they all survived to reproductive age.

Before World War Two, say, the transport of building materials was much more difficult and expensive. It was a huge advantage to source materials locally.

If you look at virtually any traditional charming country cottage, with roses growing around the door, you can usually find the source of the stone used to build it within a kilometre or so. It is extremely rare to find one without a fresh water supply within a few dozen metres.

Traditionalbuilding techniques were often also quite energy-effective, with solid thick walls providing both good insulation and acting as thermal storage heaters; smaller window openings conserving heat better. Shutters and curtains are more efficient insulators than blinds.

Cob, or torchis(French),

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cob_%28material%29 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cob_%28material%29)

http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torchis (http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torchis)

...is the traditional building material par excellence. Ur in Mesopotamia was built of cob.

I stumbled across it while working on a half-timbered wall in France, which I was repairing. I started by scraping back the old torchis, then applying a thick layer of modern crepi (lime-based render) over the top. As I continued with this, I began to find that the 200 year old torchis, sieved and remoistened, was a much easier material to use than the modern, expensive, high-carbon equivalent. As this saved me several trips to ther tip, reusing the old material actually saved me money on fuel, in itself.

Altogether, I've now used old cob, scraped down off old walls, etc, to reface around 50 squared metres of wall, and as mortar, to rebuild a couple of cubic metres of masonry. I think its a fantastic material, and with cement/plaster production accounting for around 5% of CO2 emmissions, its use is very highly commended.

I have never mixed my own from scratch; and therein lies a problem. I find that there are definite local characteristics to the old materials I am reusing. "Mud" varies from place to place - and presumably local traditions have grown over time regarding the correct additional ingredients to add to make the local mud better-behaved.

Among these additional ingredients; lime, straw/hay and horse/donkey droppings.

The presence of the last I find especially notable, and gloriously pragmatic. You turn up on site in the morning, having corralled the draft animals on site overnight, and find that they have produced more building materials while you slept.

Anyway, I now have to get back to scraping shite up the walls. "Interesting", my arse!

;(




Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on November 05, 2013, 07:43:24 PM
idunno,
I've never heard that curse before, but I do find that interesting...
If someone said to me "May you live in interesting times" I would probably respond "Thanks" - thinking that (as someone who enjoys some adventure) this person was wishing me a good time.
Cultural differences maybe...

Anyway, yes, there are definitely two different schools in "ecological" building as you have described; "modernistic" and "traditional".
Personally, I think the world needs both schools, though post-collapse I think "traditional" skills and experience will be more in demand and useful.

For a long time I have had an interest in strawbale and rammed earth construction, but I lack experience with either of these techniques.
Do you have any pictures of a cob structure you are working on?

In the climate where I live, rammed earth has a drawback in that these structures are difficult to insulate.
While having a large thermal mass can work quite well on its own to buffer temperature variation in some climates, that is not enough in winter here - unless the occupants are also prepared to wear layers of outdoor clothing inside or are brining in many other people and/or animals to share warmth.
Is this an issue with cob construction as well?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: idunno on November 06, 2013, 08:51:02 PM
Hi Laurent,

Sorry, I have no photos, but this cartoon...

http://xkcd.com/1267/ (http://xkcd.com/1267/)

As I understand it, cob should provide very good insulation of itself. Certainly so if used in straw bale construction.

Around here, many of the older houses were built with a space for stabling horses/cattle/sheep on the ground floor/cellar. I presume that this would have provided some extra warmth in midwinter, but is unlikely to catch on again fast.

Wearing extra layers of clothing in winter, even indoors, strikes me as very sensible. In the UK this is official governement advice.

Also, I am reluctant to start a "hot water bottle" thread, as this would be just too self-indulgent of my pet absurd theory; that, at night, it is wiser to try to heat a


Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: idunno on November 06, 2013, 09:09:49 PM
"wiser to try to heat a couple" of litres of water instead of trying to heat several thousand litres of air.

Granny knew best, on this and several other subjects; and my overall point is that I think that people looking to reduce their carbon footprint would do as well to look towards traditional ways of coping, as to waiting for "the market" to come and solve it all with innovation 'n' that. Though, as you say, there is room for both.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ggelsrinc on November 06, 2013, 10:01:12 PM
My heating pad runs on dog food and scraps. She's an Old English Mastiff with a body temperature several degrees or around 5 degrees higher than mine. Her reward is I allow her to sleep in my bed and my reward is going back to back with her, because it is so comfortable. No one can approach me without Lucy the Goosey using those big ears to hear them coming, but she isn't agressive. She looks something like this:

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fpuppyparadise.com%2Fimages%2FBreeds%2Fmastiff.jpg&hash=ce94d25b04025468314b7cf4aa49c05d)

I built a bank once and felt disappointed it wasn't given to my charge once the money was placed in it.

Thorium MSRs are the most interesting building projects to date. Many nations are examining that old concept started to make a bomber run on nuclear power. Check it out!
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on November 06, 2013, 11:38:16 PM
Anyway, yes, there are definitely two different schools in "ecological" building as you have described; "modernistic" and "traditional".
Personally, I think the world needs both schools, though post-collapse I think "traditional" skills and experience will be more in demand and useful.

I totally agree with this, and am actually thinking a lot about it while doing stuff around the house. I think traditional is the more ecological of the two, in the sense that you use less synthetic/semi-toxic stuff. But modernistic is probably more energy efficient in the long run.

I always hoped/fantasized about doing the traditional stuff, renovating some old farm/house. But as we didn't find a proper place, we gradually started moving towards building our own house, and I felt more comfortable designing a conventional house, because it's a bit more like Lego, more palatable for someone like me who has some experience with building and DIY, but not that much either. I was scared of doing traditional things the wrong way and then having a lot of work trying to fix it or to have to learn to live with it.

And I'm a bit of an energy saving freak.  ;D  8)

Another appeal for me of building eco-modernistic is that it sets an example of what's possible, and that's useful if civilisation doesn't crash hard and fast.

BTW, I'll have an update next week or so, I'm currently extremely busy building a green roof in between rainy days. The outside plaster worked out well, although our contractor wasn't happy about our windowpanes in connection with the plaster. If water gets between the plaster and the wood, things will go downhill very quickly. But luckily our roof sticks out a whole meter from the wall, so the windows are safe most of the time. Either way, it gives the house a more traditional look.

I should be updating the PIOMAS post on the blog, but here are some images:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-huyMBGyzfJo/UnrDxjFEUTI/AAAAAAAABPU/WRfLIwwumjk/s500/tn_DSC04532.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EiDLe1qACnQ/UnrDxkSWZ-I/AAAAAAAABPY/qW9n5kboaYY/s500/tn_DSC04562.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-zfc0aocFDm8/UnrDxykKHyI/AAAAAAAABPc/jHETuWjyil8/s500/tn_DSC04578.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QIQxaMBOZDY/UnrDy6MJwBI/AAAAAAAABP0/7gmjGDgJDPY/s500/tn_DSC04595.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-OLYM1A8Gspg/UnrDy3ACKNI/AAAAAAAABPo/Rf3uWBibkF8/s500/tn_DSC04597.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RSafCiuaxE8/UnrDy8sN9eI/AAAAAAAABPw/GhD_dRd0Buk/s500/tn_DSC04599.JPG)

I will sigh a sigh of relief when that green roof is finally done! Then the exterior will be done, and we just have to fix a couple of problems (concrete water tank hasn't been built properly and is already leaking), and we can then start working on the interior stuff. For which we'll probably need another 5-6 months.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ggelsrinc on November 07, 2013, 01:00:54 AM
Anyway, yes, there are definitely two different schools in "ecological" building as you have described; "modernistic" and "traditional".
Personally, I think the world needs both schools, though post-collapse I think "traditional" skills and experience will be more in demand and useful.

I totally agree with this, and am actually thinking a lot about it while doing stuff around the house. I think traditional is the more ecological of the two, in the sense that you use less synthetic/semi-toxic stuff. But modernistic is probably more energy efficient in the long run.

I always hoped/fantasized about doing the traditional stuff, renovating some old farm/house. But as we didn't find a proper place, we gradually started moving towards building our own house, and I felt more comfortable designing a conventional house, because it's a bit more like Lego, more palatable for someone like me who has some experience with building and DIY, but not that much either. I was scared of doing traditional things the wrong way and then having a lot of work trying to fix it or to have to learn to live with it.

And I'm a bit of an energy saving freak.  ;D  8)

Another appeal for me of building eco-modernistic is that it sets an example of what's possible, and that's useful if civilisation doesn't crash hard and fast.

BTW, I'll have an update next week or so, I'm currently extremely busy building a green roof in between rainy days. The outside plaster worked out well, although our contractor wasn't happy about our windowpanes in connection with the plaster. If water gets between the plaster and the wood, things will go downhill very quickly. But luckily our roof sticks out a whole meter from the wall, so the windows are safe most of the time. Either way, it gives the house a more traditional look.

I should be updating the PIOMAS post on the blog, but here are some images:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-huyMBGyzfJo/UnrDxjFEUTI/AAAAAAAABPU/WRfLIwwumjk/s500/tn_DSC04532.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-EiDLe1qACnQ/UnrDxkSWZ-I/AAAAAAAABPY/qW9n5kboaYY/s500/tn_DSC04562.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-zfc0aocFDm8/UnrDxykKHyI/AAAAAAAABPc/jHETuWjyil8/s500/tn_DSC04578.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-QIQxaMBOZDY/UnrDy6MJwBI/AAAAAAAABP0/7gmjGDgJDPY/s500/tn_DSC04595.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-OLYM1A8Gspg/UnrDy3ACKNI/AAAAAAAABPo/Rf3uWBibkF8/s500/tn_DSC04597.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-RSafCiuaxE8/UnrDy8sN9eI/AAAAAAAABPw/GhD_dRd0Buk/s500/tn_DSC04599.JPG)

I will sigh a sigh of relief when that green roof is finally done! Then the exterior will be done, and we just have to fix a couple of problems (concrete water tank hasn't been built properly and is already leaking), and we can then start working on the interior stuff. For which we'll probably need another 5-6 months.

Please don't take this as a criticism, but merely informative. I live in an area where there is almost never a tornado and many commercial establishments like a stucco finish. We use a product over here, I think it's called drivet, it's been many years since I've been around it, and it's a styrofoam with a blue plastic mesh to add stucco. It is attached directly to the framing, be it metal stud or wood. It has limited structural integrity, but I've seen it added to wood framed and plywooded/composite wooded houses and then a stucco finish added. I was once involved in installing it and topping off the walls and cornice of a casino with a molded product. Doing walls with it is easy and stucco isn't that hard, though scaffolding is required. It's the insulation properties of the product that impresses me, and surely I'm not suggesting going back to square one on your project, because that would be a waste. I'm only trying to be informative to the next person and I don't even know if it's available in Europe. It's simply a plastic mess coated product of various thicknesses that can be easily screwed to surfaces and then apply a stucco finish. Since the framing is also insulated, it just adds more, but above is the most important. On the sides of buildings, sealing for leaks is what counts the most, particularly around doors and windows. A sensitive person can actually walk around a properly maintained home and fell the lack of draft regardless of thermostat settings. Spend your money on draft!

I remember when CFBs first arrived and I paid $7 apiece for 22 of them to save my mom money. I took a light bulb from my daughter's house to the store and asked if ornamental light could be replaced with something more energy efficient along with some bathroom lights. The gentleman showed me an expensive LED light, that reminded me of those old CFB days, but he only had one in stock and I needed 6. It was 2 watts and a light on a Christmas tree or decoration is at least 5 watts. I don't care what it costs, I want those dining room lights in my daughters house changed to 12 watts. I know the price will eventually go down.

That was just another off topic ramble, I thought may be helpful.

Cheers! 
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on November 07, 2013, 06:46:35 AM
Quote
It's simply a plastic mess

Indeed!  ;) ;D

Although I have been forced to buy a bit of styrofoam for the green roof (to get a slope for water to run off) because the contractor didn't build it as desired, I'm really trying to avoid the stuff. Yes, it has great insulation properties, it's cheap and probably useful for upgrading existing buildings, but it's made of oil and it's a mess when disposed of, mostly because of toxic fire retardants.

Every time I see styrofoam I'm reminded of a documentary I once saw, where they cut open a dead seabird and its stomach was full of the stuff.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ggelsrinc on November 07, 2013, 10:36:33 AM
The biggest problem involves cups and food containers. Stuffed animals often use Styrofoam. Construction use is intended to be permanent, so it's alright for stucco and some molded work. It seems to be durable, but can be destroyed in a strong wind. There is a big time disposal problem though. It's so light it's easy for it to get to the water and has to be buried to avoid the trashy mess. I would like to see Styrofoam's use in the food industry stopped and there are easy ways to get substitutes. The oil part doesn't bother me much, because that oil is better sequestered than burned as fuel. Plastic trash needs to be recycled and also it's use avoided in the food industry. Paper and glass with a deposit would work.   
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on November 08, 2013, 04:46:10 AM
Yesterday I had to saw a PVC pipe, cut styrofoam (absolutely hate the stuff), stuff rockwool to insulate a drainage pipe that goes trhough the roof, and use some smelly EPDM glue. Even though it's only a small part of the building process, I really dislike making concessions.

I hope we get that green roof right and tight. I don't want to do this again in the next 10 years. We're doing it relatively cheap (under 2000 euros for a 35 m2 flat roof), but man, it's a lot of work! More later.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on November 11, 2013, 01:18:07 AM
Neven,
Looking forward to seeing some pictures of your "green roof".

I know what you mean about EPDM glue.
I used EPDM on the roof of our attached sun room and I remember it felt like I was holding my breath the whole time - fun times!
As disgusting as dealing with fumes may be, it would be hard to do a proper job of a "green roof" without EPDM.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on November 11, 2013, 11:04:51 PM
The EPDM sheet itself is fantastic, a wonderful material, reasonably green as well (much more than PVC), but the glue less so.  :)

Here are a couple of images showing the process so far. This is a drawing I made that shows some of the details:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-8DDfh2ZcuOY/UoFPOdDeZLI/AAAAAAAABX0/Lh4xnASBbUc/s600/tn_Flachdach%2520Curlin.jpg)

The contractor built a flat roof consisting of 18mm OSB - 240mm beams/cellulose - OSB

The green roof is coming on top of that, with 2-10 cm styrofoam - 1.14 mm EPDM sheet - 25 mm polypropylene drainage boards - fleece to keep out small particles - substrate - plants, with 30 cm of pebbles on the edges.

The styrofoam is used to create a slope and let all water drain at the back of the roof:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-Tk8rLdLjySg/UoFPOkc47jI/AAAAAAAABX4/DDXfjUTLZ7w/s500/tn_Gef%25C3%25A4lled%25C3%25A4mmung.jpg)

First I attached a 20 cm/8 inch high wooden beam around the roof:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-763S_ov_qOM/UoDTHpS9tUI/AAAAAAAABTc/0icWYMJgiyA/s500/tn_DSC04738.JPG)

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-gUVqYOLLU_Y/UoDTHdJT5JI/AAAAAAAABTU/jreo8gUeimQ/s500/tn_DSC04737.JPG)

Then I laid the styrofoam out:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-DlF6fEJJZg4/UoDTIghuSyI/AAAAAAAABTw/FBCR_ApoMQQ/s500/tn_DSC04741.JPG)

With the EPDM gully:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-gOkROqKJjxM/UoDTIrNTNtI/AAAAAAAABT4/pZ0L3v6qKyI/s500/tn_DSC04744.JPG)

This gully was glued to the EPDM sheet, but first I had to make a hole through the roof. Here's some images showing that process:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-tNBSVgGESlc/UoFOInfUQOI/AAAAAAAABVg/hqTOtEbl5IU/s500/tn_DSC04686.JPG)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-pOZvI7TEB4c/UoFOIkHa4fI/AAAAAAAABVc/rt9a2dBb5tA/s500/tn_DSC04707.JPG)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-uEJTmiEeppg/UoFOI-9tYvI/AAAAAAAABVk/-to-nSnEO8g/s500/tn_DSC04711.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Fs8KlzF3pvE/UoFOJ1HGC9I/AAAAAAAABV4/ebJBkbOitQQ/s500/tn_DSC04720.JPG)

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-a1_zhhs2ppA/UoFOJ3w0eGI/AAAAAAAABVw/d7B4jUt_7nA/s500/tn_DSC04726.JPG)

There are now two things I have to find solutions for:

1) What kind of substrate mix to create for the roof
2) Whether to physically attach the EPDM sheet to the edge of the roof

For 1) I will use a mix of expanded clay aggregate, mixed with soil and sand I already have on-site. I just don't know yet how much of each I should use. All in all I need 2.5-3 cubic metres.

For 2) I'm still doubting a lot. My contractor and a roof guy who has provided me with a metal thing (I don't know what you call those) to close off the edge of the roof, see sketch above, say that I have to glue and/or screw the sheet to the beam. I'd rather not do this. First of all, I'm not a fan of closing things permanently, but especially in this case as I'm not sure this construction is 100% moisture proof.

Either you build a flat or green roof by allowing water vapor that enters the construction to come out again. Or you make sure no water vapor can come in, which is extremely difficult. Unfortunately our contractor forced us to go for the second option because he didn't build the roof as I asked him to (with a slope, and a special sheet on the ceiling inside that 'knows' when to close off completely or open up to let moisture out).

The thing is, if something goes wrong at some point, and I have to find out where the problem is, I want to be able to deconstruct everything without having to break stuff, like the glued and screwed EPDM sheet. And if you're going to screw it, you have to glue it as well, or else you get bigger and bigger holes in your sheet as it contracts and expands due to temperature.

I just want to leave a flap of 40 cm/15 inches, fold it a couple of times, lay it on the beam and close it off with the metal thing in the first sketch. My contractor says moisture might then slip in and enter the construction.

It's like going to the doctor who tells you you need some kind of medication or else you'll die.  But the medication is just as bad as the disease. ;)

Anyway, I'll post some more images of the EPDM sheet and the wooden larch construction I've made to make the side of the green roof look nice. Mounted them today, lot of work preparing though (600 pre-drilled screws).
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on November 12, 2013, 01:49:22 AM
Neven,
Very interesting...
How you sloped the styrofoam and are using a drainage mat over the EPDM...
And it looks like you are doing a good job (nice pictures).

Quote
Either you build a flat or green roof by allowing water vapor that enters the construction to come out again. Or you make sure no water vapor can come in, which is extremely difficult. Unfortunately our contractor forced us to go for the second option because he didn't build the roof as I asked him to (with a slope, and a special sheet on the ceiling inside that 'knows' when to close off completely or open up to let moisture out).
Yes, it's one way or the other.
Like you, I tend to see very little value in making things "perfectly" waterproof in a way that prevents the assembly from drying out if it ever does get wet.
Ideally, wall and roof assemblies of this type should be able to dry out either to the exterior or the interior (and preferably both).
I think in this case you are commited to having an assembly that needs "perfect" water-proofing on the exterior side and so you should probably glue the EPDM down all the way around (this is what I would do).

So your roof assembly should be able to dry to the interior then...
If I understand correctly, you had wanted a "smart" vapour retarding membrane on the interior side of the ceiling?
What was installed instead, an impermeable vapour barrier membrane?

If it ever comes to it (ie, you must try to find a leak under the substrate) I would say that you would have to sacrifice the EPDM and cut into it around the perimeter.
As long as the styrofoam hasn't been glued down to the OSB, then you should be able to lift the loose EPDM and the styrofoam out without making too much mess - if you're carefull (and lucky) you may be able to put the styrofoam and EPDM back in place and cover the entire thing with a new sheet of EPDM.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ggelsrinc on November 12, 2013, 02:50:43 AM
My only experience around EPDM has been in commercial construction and it's covered with stone. Of course, the slope and drains are planned ahead of time, so water will flow by design. I've never seen a residential application, but without proper design, only shims, a rasp and a lot of elbow grease will work to correct a screw up. Laser levels don't lie, so finding the down slope isn't hard.

I just had to put my two cents in and value it much less than that.   
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on November 12, 2013, 08:41:50 AM
Quote
So your roof assembly should be able to dry to the interior then...
If I understand correctly, you had wanted a "smart" vapour retarding membrane on the interior side of the ceiling?
What was installed instead, an impermeable vapour barrier membrane?

Exactly, an impermeable vapour barrier membrane with aluminum coating (another fantastic concession for me), on top - or actually below - the OSB.

Luckily we have some time left before deciding what to do with the edges. It's very wet now (rain, mist) and we just let the EPDM flap over the edge with 25 kg bags of pebbles holding it there. Up till now there was no moisture below the EPDM. If it stays like this, I'm taking my chances. I seriously don't dig having to destroy the entire sheet EPDM and dig out over 3 m3 of materials if there's some moisture somewhere.

Better start saving for a new construction in 3-5 years straight away. And pray...  :-\ :)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on November 12, 2013, 08:42:30 AM
BTW, I forgot, Lucas, did you do anything with green/flat roofs for your house?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on November 12, 2013, 09:19:28 PM
Neven,
I think you'll probably get more than three to five years out of your green roof - unless it leaks, then three to five years might be a good guess.
With the aluminum facing on the OSB, at least the structural components of the roof should retain the ability to dry to the inside and should last.
Is the ceiling itself "airtight"?

My wife and I, we talked a little about building a green roof over the sunroom but eventually gave up on the idea - at the time there were just too many other things to worry about...

Have you decided what kind of plants you will put into the substrate?
I wonder if you could grow some edibles up there using a sub-soil or drip irrigation system?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on November 12, 2013, 09:25:17 PM
My only experience around EPDM has been in commercial construction and it's covered with stone.

Ah yes, I've heard about that...
That in some commercial applications, they don't use glue and simply weigh the EPDM down using smooth gravel as "ballast".
Do you know how the perimeter of the EPDM is treated in such cases - is it glued or otherwise fastened down?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on November 12, 2013, 10:16:09 PM
Neven,
I think you'll probably get more than three to five years out of your green roof - unless it leaks, then three to five years might be a good guess.
With the aluminum facing on the OSB, at least the structural components of the roof should retain the ability to dry to the inside and should last.
Is the ceiling itself "airtight"?

Yes, it is. It's OSB, and with the vapour barrier added to that, I don't think a lot of air will pass. From a construction point of view it's fairly simple, just a square of approx. 20 m2. The roof itself is bigger because it extends 50 cm past the outer walls (30 cm).

I'm not so much afraid the roof will leak, because it's a continuous sheet, and like I said, EPDM is really a very nice and sturdy material. They say it can even withstand the elements for 50 years without any cover.

I'm afraid of moisture creeping in under the EPDM because I didn't glue it or screw it on the edges (yet). But the roof guy (Spengler in German, meaning tinsmith (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinsmith), over here the guys who do all the gutters and other metal stuff on roofs) came over today to look at the flat roof and said there is no way that any moisture will get past the edge. So that was a bit of a relief.

And yes, the pebbles and substrate keep everything in place, so there's no need to glue the sheet. Except perhaps at the edge.

Quote
Have you decided what kind of plants you will put into the substrate?
I wonder if you could grow some edibles up there using a sub-soil or drip irrigation system?

We will mostly put in drought-resistant herbs like thymian, but where the substrate is only a couple of centimetres thick (it gets thicker towards the middle) we will probably use succulents/sedum (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedum).

Edibles will be difficult because the substrate will have a max of 12-13 cm -> extensive green roof. For edibles you need to go intensive -> 30 cm and beyond.

But we have plenty of space  for gardening as it is.  ;)

We're building it mostly for the life span, for the esthetics and for the experience (we'll probably do it on our carport and chicken coop as well).

Anyway, didn't get a chance to continue working on the green roof today, because I totally forgot the solar panel guy was coming! I helped him quite a bit, and almost wet my pants because of my fear of heights, and am completely devastated from climbing up and down and trying not to fall. We're installing the modules tomorrow...
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JayW on November 16, 2013, 01:05:42 PM
Nice job Neven, I haven't been around the forum very long, but have seen the progress on your house and it looks great.  I am actually a carpenter, and have been building for about 15 years, and learned the trade working summers in high schools, and thought college. I was hoping I could share some of what I have learned.

As far as green roofs go, I honestly have no experience, not have seen one in my area.  Flat roofs are also very rare hrs to because we have snowpack that readily exceeds 3 feet. From what I have seen, you look like you are on the right path.  One area I would be concerned about is the flat roof to sidewall transition.  Will snow accumulation be an issue?  Make sure that's it's flashed well and high enough up the wall, if snow build up.

A note on traditional building.  I have worked on many farmhouses, some nearly 300 years old.  Where I live Maine, USA.  Building was done with 2x4 exterior walls, covered with pine or hemlock boards. Often with gaps.  Little, or more often, no insulation and a fireplace in every room.  New England is heavily forested, so firewood has always been plentiful.  The costs associated with retrofitting houses like this are prohibitive.  Fortunately, I often work for folks who are successful enough to afford this. And they are also concerned about the environment, as well as saving old farmhouses.  Where the old timers really nailed it was with site lay out.  They always have the majority of windows facing south, and as much roof facing the north.

I also hate to use any foam products, especially those containing formaldehyde (attracts ants and smells bad) but is now basically required for basements.  Also, architects and homeowners have been requesting a shell of foam over the whole structure to create a thermal break.  The call it a continuous envelope.  I'm not sold on the airtight idea, I like houses to breathe.  I recommend just a single vapour barrier on the interior side of the studs, and a breathable house wrap under the siding.  Masonry and stucco homes are essentially non existent here.  My insulator uses a blown in product made of recycled fibers and treated with borax to discourage animals.  Please, never use fiberglass, it's best used as an air filter. But, insulation and sealing up around windows is certainly the most important.

Since I know little of the ice, maybe I can contribute here.  I'm still just 35, have much to learn, and always open to new ideas.  But I like to think I have an idea what I am doing, plus one house I built won awards for energy efficiency.  The architects deserve the most credit, but I learned some tricks.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ggelsrinc on November 16, 2013, 01:58:14 PM
My only experience around EPDM has been in commercial construction and it's covered with stone.

Ah yes, I've heard about that...
That in some commercial applications, they don't use glue and simply weigh the EPDM down using smooth gravel as "ballast".
Do you know how the perimeter of the EPDM is treated in such cases - is it glued or otherwise fastened down?

My only experience in seeing it built was a Hilton connected to a Casino. They glued the seams and the perimeter was walled off much higher than these image examples which are more common for commercial roofs.

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2Fthumb%2F1%2F19%2FEPDM_foil.jpg%2F841px-EPDM_foil.jpg&hash=64d7c8931a505d29ce16b5f02b0886b1)

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2Fthumb%2F1%2F14%2FFinishedEPDMcoveredRoof.jpg%2F923px-FinishedEPDMcoveredRoof.jpg&hash=5c72c93a62cd0503bf2f5b344151e266)

I have seen many ways to make the perimeter for ordinary EPDM roofs, but wasn't present during construction, including using EPDM to cover the perimeter.

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=627&q=epdm+roofing&oq=epdm&gs_l=img.1.1.0l10.7630.12584.0.18921.4.4.0.0.0.0.811.2283.0j1j5-1j2.4.0....0...1ac.1.31.img..1.3.1576.Mz1ljKj0Ls4 (https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=627&q=epdm+roofing&oq=epdm&gs_l=img.1.1.0l10.7630.12584.0.18921.4.4.0.0.0.0.811.2283.0j1j5-1j2.4.0....0...1ac.1.31.img..1.3.1576.Mz1ljKj0Ls4)

They were basically flat roofs engineered to direct water down internal drains.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on November 16, 2013, 06:01:24 PM
Nice job Neven, I haven't been around the forum very long, but have seen the progress on your house and it looks great.  I am actually a carpenter, and have been building for about 15 years, and learned the trade working summers in high schools, and thought college. I was hoping I could share some of what I have learned.

Thanks a lot, JayW!

Quote
As far as green roofs go, I honestly have no experience, not have seen one in my area.  Flat roofs are also very rare hrs to because we have snowpack that readily exceeds 3 feet. From what I have seen, you look like you are on the right path.  One area I would be concerned about is the flat roof to sidewall transition.  Will snow accumulation be an issue?  Make sure that's it's flashed well and high enough up the wall, if snow build up.

It will be fastened high enough on the wall and the overlapped by a façade sheet/membrane that protects the wall from any moisture that comes between the wooden façade (larch planks with 1 cm opening between them, mounted on wooden bars).

Quote
I'm not sold on the airtight idea, I like houses to breathe.

I know what you mean, but when a house breathes, it loses warmth. At the start of the thread I wrote about how I'm not a fan of heat recovery ventilation systems, but I'm going to experiment with a small decentral unit. It will be months before I can report on that though.

A couple of days ago our PV array was installed. 5.25 kWp that should produce a little less than 6000 kWh a year:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-mY_T3JEOJjo/UoeiILBkJvI/AAAAAAAABZA/LpB9BIMxepI/s600/tn_DSC04782.JPG)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JayW on November 16, 2013, 07:00:28 PM
I have built a house where they installed a unit that has a heat exchanger and dehumidifier that is ventilated through two 8 inch vents.  It was installed at the very end of construction and wrung gallons of water out in the first few weeks.  It's truly amazing how much moisture is released by all the building materials.  It no longer collects the copious amounts it did at first.  I am doing more work for those people and will and see how it has performed these last couple years.  It's a large house, exposed on a hill, with many nights below 0°F, I'll be interested to see how efficient their house has been.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on November 18, 2013, 01:03:14 AM
Also, architects and homeowners have been requesting a shell of foam over the whole structure to create a thermal break.  The call it a continuous envelope.  I'm not sold on the airtight idea, I like houses to breathe.
Hi JayW,
Actually, through a lot of experimentation and forensics work building scientists have compiled a large body of evidence (http://www.buildingscience.com/index_html) that the expression "build tight and ventilate right" is the best way to approach modern construction for both energy efficiency and also durability.

As Neven mentioned, a building envelope that leaks air, leaks energy.

Also, air transports far more water vapour into building assemblies than does diffusion of water vapour through building materials, so air leaks are also a major durability issue.
Interestingly, the durability concerns of air leakage aren't really an issue in the types of ancient farmhouses you described because (as you said) most are so poorly insulated that there is not usually enough of a temperature gradient across the envelope to cause any condensation within those assemblies.

I agree with you that a house needs to "breathe" but only in the sense that the various assemblies should be able to dry out by diffusion - preferably in both directions (to the inside and to the outside) depending on the ambient conditions.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on December 14, 2013, 11:34:23 PM
Okay, we finished the green roof two weeks ago, here's the second round of images.

EPDM on sloped Styrofoam:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-eopxJlYRq1o/UqzZ3DwaQhI/AAAAAAAABbE/eKKsd4MG42A/s500/tn_DSC04811.JPG)

Drainage mats:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-xghKv9aWwhM/UqzZ3GFur4I/AAAAAAAABa8/xj8KAVnBgPo/s500/tn_DSC04854.JPG)

Where all the water goes to:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-tbPCt2oCvrA/UqzZ379aLjI/AAAAAAAABbU/h2ti4dHtkww/s500/tn_DSC04863.JPG)

The sides of the roof are clad with larch planks, with a special aluminum profiled thing on top to prevent water from entering the construction on the sides:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-BQGe-9WAXjQ/UqzZ5KxOCHI/AAAAAAAABbs/BG2Vrn-jKRw/s500/tn_DSC04917.JPG)

Then a special mix of recycled roof tiles (50%), sandy loam (40%) and compost (10%) was brought by a truck and delivered on the roof. This was a good decision, although it cost more than making it ourselves, which would've been a mini-Herculean task.

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-X60_Jg_uEvU/UqzZ4dhUFBI/AAAAAAAABbc/Yt1m1tJasl0/s500/tn_DSC04905.JPG)

On the sides you still see a white filter fleece that we laid on top of the drainage mats before the mix was delivered:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-LLR5a05JYsQ/UqzZ4jz-wkI/AAAAAAAABbk/Y7k4go7G454/s500/tn_DSC04908.JPG)

End result (that is, without next year's plants):

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-P3iUdHQnK2c/UqzZ5qfzdjI/AAAAAAAABb0/adUVnhyWMWs/s500/tn_DSC04924.JPG)

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/--Tk_Lt14rhs/UqzZ536B8AI/AAAAAAAABb8/MRCmhoYf3qw/s500/tn_DSC04925.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-atEFgYzUs-I/UqzZ6xT74DI/AAAAAAAABcA/TIOX574muUI/s500/tn_DSC04932.JPG)

Now we're cladding the side walls of the roof with a larch construction. I don't want any screws to be visible, so have doubled my work load, but hopefully it will be worth it. I hope to have it finished by the end of the month.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on January 13, 2014, 02:27:11 AM
The larch cladding of the roof's side walls was finished just after New Year's Day. Here's the whole process on both sides:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-i6KW_9b8Pqc/UtNAX4OxGyI/AAAAAAAABfM/2MYEIWIfl1Y/s576/Holzfassade.jpg)

and...

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-MmyjfLOOURE/UtNAephykEI/AAAAAAAABfU/StetYI_c14M/s576/Holzfassade2.jpg)

I'm currently insulating the shafts where piping for stuff like water and sewage come into the house. After that building stairs and insulating the roof with 32 cm of cellulose. I'll post images of the more interesting stuff wrt sustainable/green building.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ccgwebmaster on January 13, 2014, 02:58:45 AM
I for one would be very interested in your nautical protection. I've always thought that the mobility offered could prove a huge asset in chaotic times.

This picture shows the sun setting as I headed offshore on what i guess passes for a maiden voyage (it was unsuccessful, more details at http://deusjuvat.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/a-slap-on-the-wrist-from-the-ocean/ (http://deusjuvat.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/a-slap-on-the-wrist-from-the-ocean/) for anyone interested). The vessel is messy as there wasn't even enough time to clear the decks before attempting to leave (this would have been attempted under way had things gone better).

I'll go back or forwards or both from this for this topic - I've got an awful lot of time and effort into this already and a lot of water already under the bridge. Once I relocate it will be easier as certain external factors that complicate things will no longer apply at that point. Remarkable luck permits a second attempt (while death was a relatively unlikely outcome, many possible outcomes for this particular trip amount to instant and total failure and several of those risk factors went about as extreme as possible without actually happening last try).
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on January 13, 2014, 08:41:41 AM
ccg
Read your harrowing account. Don't be discouraged, sailboats are for sailing not for motoring ;>)
Your boat's bigger than anything I've ever sailed but once you get the rigging straitened out I think you'll find yourself wondering why you put so much effort into the FF propulsion system.
I've never found anything as thrilling as bending a little bit of the breeze to propel me wherever I wanted to go. I've never been in a sailing boat handled well without a sail being set & they're always better once the engine is turned off.
Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ccgwebmaster on January 14, 2014, 08:31:46 AM
Read your harrowing account. Don't be discouraged, sailboats are for sailing not for motoring ;>)
Your boat's bigger than anything I've ever sailed but once you get the rigging straitened out I think you'll find yourself wondering why you put so much effort into the FF propulsion system.
I've never found anything as thrilling as bending a little bit of the breeze to propel me wherever I wanted to go. I've never been in a sailing boat handled well without a sail being set & they're always better once the engine is turned off.

Well - being up a river right now and having no idea if I could sail something this big out of it (the river isn't very wide in places) means wanting the engine for at least short range maneuvering. Due to life challenges the engine room spent almost two years being flooded with rain water. The previous owner used a cockpit deck leak as a pretext to go on board to (most likely him) steal the main winches (still not replaced, rather expensive) without anyone on site thinking to inform me about anything during an absence inflicted in large part by a divorce (also part of the unhelpful background circumstances) despite my asking about the boat during that time (and paying for storage).

The same leak took around 5 minutes to locate and resolve when I finally got to the boat again (a couple of years ago now - this project is in the 7th year now if you include time spent saving). By then the engine had taken damage - engine mounts and oil pan were effectively destroyed by galvanic corrosion - the transmission was suspect - the batteries (such as they were) were trash and the starter was destroyed. It's lucky that the engine and transmission are still functional at all, let alone solid enough to run for the ~14 hours they did last trip. A sharp blow from a hammer was required to get the transmission to initially find forwards gear after several changes of fluid amidst an hour of running in reverse to warm it up...

I have every intention of running on the sails next time (which would mean I likely have enough diesel right now for years). I've got whatever portion of ~2 months I don't spend working on non boat stuff to get the rig operational and improve as much else as possible (subject to a budget ~nil).

I have no idea how this thing will sail yet - I suspect it will be slower and duller than the dinghy I taught myself on, but I went splat so many times in my first year with that thing that it's probably just as well (it was a 2 man dinghy, overpowered for one in stronger winds). With four sails (up to five if I get a fisherman sail) to trim instead of two - I should in theory have a lot of options for how I balance the vessel under sail.

I'm hoping to get some sort of sheet to tiller self steering operational (although the main steering is hydraulic there will be a manual tiller too once I fabricate it) or the risk is 4-5 days of near continuous steering for the first sailing trip... wouldn't really be my idea of fun.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JimD on February 10, 2014, 03:48:19 PM
Everyone knows about solar hot water and many about solar ovens for cooking, b ut here is something that a few of you might not have thought of and could find a use for.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/fredericton-man-builds-300-solar-furnace-decreases-heating-bill-1.2527065 (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/fredericton-man-builds-300-solar-furnace-decreases-heating-bill-1.2527065)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on February 10, 2014, 05:14:19 PM
Seems the CBC reports on systems like this every few years. Neat idea but much less effective than solar domestic hot water or PV and really quite expensive to buy if you aren't handy enough to build your own. South facing skylights probably provide more heating than these air systems as well.

I seriously considered building an air heating system but instead I have a skylight, evacuated tube hot water system and PV all over my roof. Other very important thing to note - in Canada sun angles are extremely low in the winter and hours of daylight very short. If the trees don't shade you your neighbour's house probably does and even when they don't it is more likely than not very cloudy and snowing :P The sun is finally reaching 30 degrees above the horizon at noon - for me an exciting milestone on the way toward spring.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JimD on February 10, 2014, 06:11:39 PM
ghoti

Fair points.  But knowing how to do this in the future, or even now if you are poor, could be very valuable.

You can do it for nothing almost.  It is just a matter of scavenging parts.  There will be lots of scavengable parts in the future.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on February 20, 2014, 08:10:44 PM
A great resource for many different do-it-yourself solar project ideas:
http://www.builditsolar.com/ (http://www.builditsolar.com/)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on February 20, 2014, 08:37:13 PM
Very nice resource, Lucas, thanks.

I'm building a lot, but not so interesting lately. Making a staircase, insulating the roof, etc. Will report once I get to the more interesting stuff again next month.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on February 20, 2014, 08:46:25 PM
Hi Neven,
I am doing the same - building away but not very interesting.
I am also building stairs ;-)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on February 21, 2014, 04:14:52 AM
Lucas
Thanks for the link. No immediate projects but interesting stuff.
Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on February 21, 2014, 07:48:43 PM
Deciduous vines for the south side of my house are in my plans. Just hope I don't create an unmanageable situation. I just want to decrease the heating of the brick wall.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on February 25, 2014, 03:25:45 PM
OK, I think I have a new interesting building project, but I'd like to hear some of your thoughts on it.

Maybe the thing that has bothered me most is the lack of ecoblahblah alternatives for the bathroom, specifically the shower portion of it. I'm not a fan of tiles because it takes huge amounts of energy to create them and once they're stuck to something, they can't be re-used. And it has to be done right, with special sheets behind them to prevent unseen damage because of leaks (pretty important in a wooden house). One thing I really hate, is that all corners need to be sealed with silicone. It never holds for very long, gets mildew on it, and is a PITA to replace. And to replace it you need to buy a tube of which you'll only use one quarter. In other words: completely unsustainable stuff.

So no tiles, and no silicone, that's the goal. I have to say I've been driving myself insane with this one, for months on end, racking my poor little brain and searching for alternatives.  I thought about buying a used stainless steel tank, make holes in it, and use that as a shower cabin. But it's very difficult to find one in the right size, for the right price, I don't know how to get it in the house (heavy!) and I don't have the tools to make holes and entrance.

Another alternative would be to buy a used plastic of fiberglass tank. There are some on offer because Austria contains a couple of wine regions, but they're not so cheap, they often look dirty (from wine residue or mold), difficult to get the right size, and fiberglass isn't such a healthy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiberglass#Health_problems) material to work with.

I did find a plan B, which consists of a simple Komplettdusche, a complete shower cabin, without tiles or silicone:

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.steinershopping.at%2Fmedia%2Fcatalog%2Fproduct%2Fcache%2F1%2Fimage%2F9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95%2Fc%2Fl%2Fcl129.jpg&hash=11e731442c0daa8d4cb05ab5742a439c)

It's not so cheap, it comes with all kinds of extra water wasting nonsense like big shower heads, massage jets, and I'm not sure about cleaning it and its longevity, but it's a plan B.

Still, I want to come up with something better! I thought about using some kind of plaster, or making a cabin out of ferro-cement, but I fear it won't be waterproof. Maybe use special boards, but you still have to seal the corners.

This morning, under the shower, I finally came up with something that might work, that's non-expensive, pretty ecologically and energetically sound, and I have some experience with. Earlier in this thread I posted (https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,90.msg17915.html#msg17915) about the green roof we built back in November, using an EPDM sheet to seal the roof. I was very impressed by this material. It's flexible and supposed to be super-strong. Apparently it can remain functional for 50 years, just lying bare on a roof.

So my Eureka-moment today involved building a U-shaped cabin out of OSB, line the bottom and ceiling with EPDM, with the sheet turned up on the sides, overlapped by an EPDM sheet that runs around the three walls. The sheets are glued to the walls and each other with glue or primer. For intrusions like water pipes I can use special EPDM sleeves that I already use for cables through walls and roof to make them airtight.

Cons: Can it be cleaned easily? How dirty can it get (calcification)? My wife isn't thrilled about a black shower.

Pros: Cheap (should be doable under € 200), relatively easy to build, custom-made, relatively sustainable materials, very sturdy, fun project!

I'd make it in a such way that it's easy to replace when not working. But let me re-iterate how annoyed I am that so far I haven't been able to find any eco-alternatives for bathroom stuff! Maybe I haven't looked hard enough.

OK, I'm going to spend some time looking at the cons of this EPDM shower cabin today. Any ideas would be very welcome. But, of course, I'm going to do it.  ;) ;D
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on February 25, 2014, 03:49:59 PM
Found this after a cursory look:

Cleaning

According to this list (http://www.fbs-online.com/Centre/Prod/EPDM-chem-com-res.htm), EPDM has no problems with soap, washing soda or vinegar, which are our primary cleaning products. It does have a problem with oils, petroleum-based as well as natural, like coconut or olive oil. My wife won't be thrilled about that, as she likes to put that stuff in her hair, etc.

Speaking of which...

Black

Apparently EPDM can be painted with a white liquid coating (http://www.amazon.com/Liquid-Rubber-White-Coating-Gallon/dp/B003KA00VQ). That way we would contribute to a much needed albedo increase, a bit like the white roof project.  ;) Edit: I just found a white EPDM sheet (http://www.hanse-baustoffe.de/de/epdm-dach/112-epdm-dachfolie.html).

I'll have to look into this some more. Could be an option for the walls and ceiling.

Another possible con could be the frequent treading, but again, EPDM is said to be extremely sturdy and flexible. And I would have to find a water-proof way of drainage...

edit: Thought of another possible con: fire-retardants and/or other stuff in the EPDM.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Martin Gisser on February 25, 2014, 07:26:49 PM
A standalone shower cabin looks like an excellent idea. Seen such a thing several times in old/historic houses in Regensburg. It's the standard method to cheaply and quickly upgrade or extend unsuitable building fabric.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on February 25, 2014, 09:18:09 PM
FWIW
A few bath designs that I'd thought highly of over the years included a drying porch accessible directly from the tub/shower facility. Provides a path for removing excess humidity most of the year & the luxury of slowly drying in the sun.
A motor home I once had used the whole bathroom as a shower stall, the shower head on a flexible hose made for very easy cleanup of the room.
A large wooden drain grid fitted to the floor might save wear and tear on the EPDM as well as providing a non-slip surface for wet feet.
Removing excess humidity before it causes problems has to be a priority in a home that's as tight as yours. Difficult to do without relying on a fan.
Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: bligh8 on February 26, 2014, 12:58:54 AM
OK, I think I have a new interesting building project, but I'd like to hear some of your thoughts on it.

OK, I'm going to spend some time looking at the cons of this EPDM shower cabin today. Any ideas would be very welcome. But, of course, I'm going to do it.  ;) ;D

Neven,

Anything you might use for a shower will be it’s last application, so considering what is a throwaway item is really irrelevant , I might think.
One of the tings I do is water control projects (design & construction) and building maintenance. From these commercial applications I’ve been requested to do residential re-modeling, usually from office workers where I’m working.
I’ve done several bathroom’s including mine.
If it’s a simple shower stall you’re after, that’s a no brainier.
There is simply no better material than tile. For your application one might consider a  simple 36” wide tile wall, with three glass sides.
I would agree, no silicone, silicone is a horrible product that does not work.
You might consider 12” tiles with a cement board (DuRock) backing. Of course this DuRock which comes in 3x5ft pieces or 4x8ft pieces would need to be glued and nailed to the framing (use 2” galv nails). Durock can be easily cut either by scribing or with a sawzall. And your right about grouting, it’s a traditional nonsense….mastic, which would be used to glue the tiles to the durock would also be used in place of the grout. Simply apply enough to have it forced out of the seams when you place the tile on the wall. Mastic is water proof, does not hold moister and thus does not perpetuate mold.  If forward planning is implamented you would only need to cut the top row of tiles. Forget the tile spacers, use as little space as possible between the tiles.  If this is done right there will be no water intrusion at all, important in a stick framed house. The rest of the room could be done with green board, a sheet rock product used in water rooms. That, in combination with bathroom primer and paint (bathroom paint is a specialty product) would provide a water friendly room. If ventalation is a concern, I use a solar powered fan that’s normally available through a marine store like http://search.defender.com/?expression=solar+vent&x=8&y=8 (http://search.defender.com/?expression=solar+vent&x=8&y=8) you’ll find them adequate and in the price range from $50 to $150.

If you need to seal a seam against water penatration Solar Seal 900 is the best…it cures to a semi hard state, it works and will continue to work for 50 years. The only down side to Solar Seal 900 is that it is a oil based product, And contains VOC.

Best,
Bligh

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on February 26, 2014, 10:49:49 AM
A standalone shower cabin looks like an excellent idea. Seen such a thing several times in old/historic houses in Regensburg. It's the standard method to cheaply and quickly upgrade or extend unsuitable building fabric.
Yes, but it's Plan B for now.  :)

A large wooden drain grid fitted to the floor might save wear and tear on the EPDM as well as providing a non-slip surface for wet feet.
That would be a good idea. I've been discussing this with my wife, as the floor is probably the most vulnerable part. I'm going to look for solutions for regular showers. I'm sure there is stuff on the market for this.

Quote
Removing excess humidity before it causes problems has to be a priority in a home that's as tight as yours. Difficult to do without relying on a fan.
Yes. Of course, the bathroom has a small window (facing North). We're also planning to use a lot of loam plaster in the bathroom, except in areas where there can be direct contact with water, around sinks and bathtubs etc, where we'll use tiles. Loam can take up quite a bit of moisture and then slowly release it again, see for instance this graph:

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.egginger-naturbaustoffe.de%2Ffileadmin%2F_processed_%2Fcsm_Sorptionsdiagramm_542d4fca82.jpg&hash=9e86d67ffd713c4b3b5cb256b9af66de)

They increased relative humidity from 50% to 80% and then measured how much grams per square meter is taken up.

But I'm thinking about installing a fan as well, except I don't know yet where to lead the moisture to. Not outside, because I don't want to breach the walls or roof. Perhaps to a water drain, so that moisture condenses and runs off?

Anything you might use for a shower will be it’s last application, so considering what is a throwaway item is really irrelevant , I might think.

If it’s a simple shower stall you’re after, that’s a no brainier.
There is simply no better material than tile. For your application one might consider a  simple 36” wide tile wall, with three glass sides.
Thanks, bligh8, but I really want to find an alternative to tiles. I already have a plan B, but want to explore this EPDM idea I have. Perhaps in the end I'll surrender and opt for tiles (can always do that, of course, if the EPDM doesn't function well), so your info will be useful then.

The stall will be in a niche. I'll make a design in Sketchup and post the images here later this week.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Laurent on February 26, 2014, 11:59:42 AM
Some of you have already tryed the tadelak ?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tadelakt
Seems very good, natural materials, quite cheap. Certainly difficult to do...?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on February 26, 2014, 10:21:52 PM
tadelak sounds like a wonderful product - totally new to me.


Perhaps a large solar fan in the small window. Excess humidity can cause big problems & nobody wants bathroom odors wafting through the house. Counting on condensation to lower humidity won't work, it needs to be vented. Bathrooms should be kept at a negative pressure to avoid these problems. Even in the Nevada desert the Casino's must vent at least 5% of their already chilled air to keep things livable.


Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Andreas T on February 26, 2014, 10:38:38 PM
I have to admit to having very little experience in the matter, but it seems to me that using wood for the back of your shower is not out of the question. It is used for boats isn't it? A plywood panel with a good varnish maybe? keep some gap open between the panel and the actual wall of the room so if the panel gets damp your wall isn't damaged. There are shower trays which incorporate heat recovery, warming cold water as the warm shower water runs away, so your higher spend on that does some good.
The vent could also include heat recovery, condensation in the heat exchanger will improve heat transfer, making fresh air enter as warm as the humid air going out.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on February 26, 2014, 11:41:41 PM
Some of you have already tryed the tadelak ?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tadelakt (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tadelakt)
Seems very good, natural materials, quite cheap. Certainly difficult to do...?

I fear it's too difficult, but looks nice!

I have to admit to having very little experience in the matter, but it seems to me that using wood for the back of your shower is not out of the question. It is used for boats isn't it? A plywood panel with a good varnish maybe? keep some gap open between the panel and the actual wall of the room so if the panel gets damp your wall isn't damaged.


I'm not sure if wood would work. I have a friend who makes furniture and we discussed making a shower cabin out of larch, but I think it would look less and less welcoming very quickly. And I'm not sure about how water-proof it is, especially at the seams (which are always the problem areas in construction). Oh, and it would be mucho expensive.

My criteria simply are: ecological, sustainable, not too expensive. OK, I take back the simply.  ;D

But EPDM more or less fulfills all of these criteria, and it's extremely waterproof to boot. It's the construction that complicates things. I can do the three walls with one continuous sheet, but how to connect to the bottom? I can use a special glue, if the bottom is also EPDM. I also thought about asking the local smith to make a stainless steel container, about 3-4 inches high, and glue the EPDM to that. But EPDM on EPDM would probably be a stronger connection, and stainless steel isn't that cheap...

Quote
There are shower trays which incorporate heat recovery, warming cold water as the warm shower water runs away, so your higher spend on that does some good.
The vent could also include heat recovery, condensation in the heat exchanger will improve heat transfer, making fresh air enter as warm as the humid air going out.

Yes, I looked into this a bit (here's a very cool looking product called Joulia (http://joulia.com/)), but it doesn't really pay off, especially as we already shower a lot less than we used to (big compliment to my girls, I'm the most wasteful now) and have an extremely efficient shower head (4 liters per minute).
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JimD on February 27, 2014, 05:13:57 AM
Have you looked at this kind of option?

http://premiercarebathing.com/walk-in-baths/oversize-walk-in-baths/laguna/ (http://premiercarebathing.com/walk-in-baths/oversize-walk-in-baths/laguna/)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on February 27, 2014, 11:27:42 AM
Have you looked at this kind of option?

http://premiercarebathing.com/walk-in-baths/oversize-walk-in-baths/laguna/ (http://premiercarebathing.com/walk-in-baths/oversize-walk-in-baths/laguna/)

I did. Too expensive, although I'd love to have one. Then I'd be all set for the next 40-50 years.  :D
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: bkpr on March 05, 2014, 09:38:42 PM
For those wanting a inexpensive, bullet proof propagation greenhouse, for seed to seed operation, Visit southernoregongreenhousesupplyinc.com.

It's based on re-purposing a 10'X20', 8 legged steel carport frame.

E-mail there or to me here, and we will give away directions on how to reproduce it, We have designed this model for AC climate controls, as well as passive aspiration, if AC is impractical, or not wanted.

Parts can be had all over, but in a pinch, yes we will ship what you may not find locally. The first one we build five years ago, still works to this day, and is where we are propagating this year's starts, a lot of it, saved seed.

To those thinking of adding a sun room or greenhouse type of add on to their home, be cautious. 

The humidity these can create can be drawn into the living space and create humidity problems, exampled by mold, mildew, fungi, dry wrought etc.  Use of a temp/humidistat digital device be used. Modest in cost, and can give day time high as well as night time low. Very helpful. 

Happy growing
bkpr
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 06, 2014, 12:03:21 AM
To those thinking of adding a sun room or greenhouse type of add on to their home, be cautious. 

The humidity these can create can be drawn into the living space and create humidity problems, exampled by mold, mildew, fungi, dry wrought etc.  Use of a temp/humidistat digital device be used. Modest in cost, and can give day time high as well as night time low. Very helpful.
That's interesting, and I'll research that properly before making any decisions on where to position the greenhouse. After we're done with the house, there are three further projects on the menu: Chicken coop, root cellar and greenhouse. I have all kinds of potential combinations (also with the house) in mind, but not sure about anything yet, except for some of the materials.

Small update on relatively cheap and sustainably built shower cabin:

I don't think I want to have EPDM on the bottom, as it's very difficult to get the corners right. I thought about buying a plastic or metal container (used in garages to catch oil, etc), but have two problems: 1) difficult to connect the EPDM to plastic materials like polypropylene, and 2) where does the water go to? A hole can be made, but how do you attach the siphon to it?

So now I'm thinking about buying a (used) shower tray, because that has a built-in siphon. And instead of letting the underside of the EPDM flap over the shower tray and glue them together (I hate gluing stuff, because materials should be kept separated as much as possible), I'm thinking about flapping the EPDM under the OSB panel it's mounted on, and then put the construction on the shower tray, and clamp both together.

To clarify I've made a very quick drawing to show to my wife:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-eyu0ScuRvps/UxesQnE1nVI/AAAAAAAABkg/2FJIKLayztM/s524/Shower%2520idea.jpg)

This is something I could test in a miniature version, to see how waterproof it is. Not sure when I'll have time though...

But I'll report. Sounds like an interesting building project to me. Should be doable under 200 euros.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JimD on March 06, 2014, 05:58:43 PM
Neven

Over the lifespan of a shower design I think the clamping idea is going to be very prone to leakage and problems.  I think I would avoid that configuration.

To help provide some guidance I showed your ideas to my wife who's profession before she retired was working for various large scale home builders (600+ houses per year) as the warranty manager.  This means that she is an expert in construction materials and techniques and spent 25 years organizing work crews to fix problems with how houses were assembled.

Her response is that you absolutely should not do what you are showing in your drawing.  It is guaranteed to have problems with leakage around where you are clamping and even more important is that you just cannot put osb board in a bathroom as the inner wall condensation problem will eventually result in the glue in the osb board dissolving and the osb board will turn into mush. 

Your inner shower wall must use a material that is highly moisture resistant.  The only thing to use for long life is cement board. You can used 'greenboard' a water resistant wallboard for the rest of the bathroom if you like but it is 2nd rate.  Nothing else unless you go to block or cement walls.  Tile is the best option for long life but expensive.

If I were you I would consider the following option.  Line the entire shower area with cement board (it does not have to be thick).  Skim coat it with a thin set mortar making sure that all joints are sealed.  Make sure it is smooth.  Coat that with a high quality water proof epoxy paint, marine paint or special urethane paint of an appropriate color.  Two coats.   See the paint experts on your selection and make sure you take into account safety as some of these paints require respirators be used when applying.  People have done this and it will last a long time.  You will need to repaint it at least every 10 years.  Be especially diligent with where you meet the shower pan if you are using one.  You could also form and make the shower pan out of cement and blend it right into the cement walls and then paint the floor as well.  I have done this with making my own shower pan and walls and then I tiled myself.  It is expensive.

Your wife especially and you as well I am sure are going to want this area to look NICE.  NO one wants to use a scummy looking shower and it is your house that you are going to live in forever after all.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 06, 2014, 10:25:25 PM
Jim, thanks a lot for the suggestions, I really appreciate it. At the same time I want to do more than just build things the conventional way, as it generally annoys me quite a bit (without throwing out the baby with the bathwater, of course).

I'm not into tiles because they take too much energy to make and you still have to take measures to make sure a leak isn't immediately disastrous. Oh yeah, and the bloody silicone sealants that don't work.

I'm not into water-resistant paints that require respirators either.

I know EPDM isn't the holy grail of sustainability, but it's pretty eco-friendly and doesn't take that much energy to produce. It's extremely sturdy and can withstand most substances, except for oils. Right now - with the criteria of sustainability, level of DIY and cost in mind - I can't think of a better material than EPDM to line the walls of the U-shaped shower. I thought about gluing the EPDM to the shower tray, but I don't like glue much either. I will put more thought into the connection part between EPDM and shower tray. But I'm also going to test the clamp idea on a smaller scale. It doesn't necessarily need to be clamps. I could also just screw boards together, and make it very tightly fixed, although I like to be able to take things apart again easily (hence the clamps).

Two further important points:

1) My wife and I are willing to take risks and experiment (up to a certain point, and if it doesn't compromise the entire house). If I were to build this EPDM shower cabin, I would build it in such a way that it can easily be fixed or replaced. I know that if I'm going to build the bathroom in a conventional way, I'm going to regret it later.
2) My family is pretty unconventional. For us a shower is all about function, rather than comfort or aesthetics. I shower every other day very quickly. My wife and daughter only shower twice a week. At the same time, you're right that the shower must not look scummy. Otherwise I would just built some hippie shower like this:

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fkibbutzlotan.com%2Fblog%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F08%2Fshower_1-e1375692805798-768x1024.jpg&hash=293b678676825177ee89695b14f18758)

 ::)

You said your wife was a warranty manager for large scale home builders. I know from experience that these contractors fear nothing more than reclamations. This is why they oversize everything, just to make 200% sure that nothing can happen. From a business POV this makes sense, not from an eco-sustainability POV.

In this case it's about just some European schmuck who is willing to take the responsibility for his own f***-ups, on the off chance that something might work and be more sustainable. So, forgetting about warranty and that kind of stuff, is there anything out-of-the-box that your wife might have seen during her career that didn't seem too crazy? You know, I can always tile the shower and bathroom in 4-5 years, if things aren't working.

Sorry for being so stubborn! I like doing extreme eco-stuff that hasn't been tried or done before (like building wooden low-power computers) without going all-out back-to-medieval-times.  :) 8)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: sidd on March 07, 2014, 04:16:06 AM
Re:EDPM

Gluing it correctly is impotrant. I have put it in in some places, and overlapping like shingles at the joins helps. But if you dont get EDPM that incorporates fungicide, and it is exposed to both air and water, it will grow a green coating, or a multicolored coating of small live things. I can see this on EDPM that was originally covered by fill in a water diversion project down the road, the guy that owned the property was giving me chapter and verse. I dunno if the fungicide/EDPM product meets code for indoor residential install, i do know that such a construct in a shower would not meet code in most USA/Canada residential zoning jurisdiction. Of course, if you are zoned agricultural, hey, do what you please, nobody will bother you. Except mebbe the fungus. Or the fungicide on bare skin. I shall try to find out what they use to retard fungus, but i fear it will turn out to be poisonous.


sidd
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JimD on March 07, 2014, 04:38:10 AM
Neven

Not to worry as I am just tossing out info.

If you are going to pursue very unusual alternatives then it does behoove you to rethink the osb in the bathroom.  High humidity and condensation, not to mention potential leaks from unusual construction techniques kind of argue strongly against the osb.  Cement board is very durable and can save a lot of rot and extra expense in having to tear walls down to the framing to replace rotted osb.  Under the best of conditions osb  does not have a real long life span if exposed to a lot of moisture compared to many other materials so one does need to be careful with using it.  But as always this is just info for you to think about. 

An alternate idea  for the shower is to eliminate the shower pan normally used and install a wooden slat floor which the water passes right thru.  Design the floor to be able to pull it up for maintenance (so you need some kind of non-corrosive frame for it to sit on that is attached to the water pan described below).  Run your EPDM sheets below the wood floor about 6-8 inches and then fold them back upwards about 6 inches before you clamp and have your clamping arrangement be at a slight uphill angle away from the shower so moisture can only wick up there and not flow up there.  The folded bottom of the EPDM hangs down into a metal sealed seam non-corrosive pan which has walls that rise up to the clamp location.  The pan directs the water into a drain hole and on to your water catchment system.   (you would need to use a wood which can handle being wet frequently such as teak or the kind of wood used in steam sauna's or the manufactured deck wood (Trex is one brand).  This arrangement would keep the water away from the clamped location and also ensure that water does not pool or splash on the clamped location.  And you can grab the floor lift it out and easily clean any crud off any surfaces and also inspect your installation occasionally. 

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 07, 2014, 08:15:13 AM
Re:EDPM

Gluing it correctly is impotrant. I have put it in in some places, and overlapping like shingles at the joins helps. But if you dont get EDPM that incorporates fungicide, and it is exposed to both air and water, it will grow a green coating, or a multicolored coating of small live things.

Now that would be a show stopper!

I would think that as long as it has enough time to dry out, there won't be a problem. But perhaps not. Darn it. I'll have to look into this.
Neven

Not to worry as I am just tossing out info.

If you are going to pursue very unusual alternatives then it does behoove you to rethink the osb in the bathroom.  High humidity and condensation, not to mention potential leaks from unusual construction techniques kind of argue strongly against the osb.  Cement board is very durable and can save a lot of rot and extra expense in having to tear walls down to the framing to replace rotted osb.  Under the best of conditions osb  does not have a real long life span if exposed to a lot of moisture compared to many other materials so one does need to be careful with using it.  But as always this is just info for you to think about. 

You're absolutely right. If I'll use OSB for building a stall, I will make sure it doesn't get in contact with moisture.

Quote
An alternate idea  for the shower is to eliminate the shower pan normally used and install a wooden slat floor which the water passes right thru.  Design the floor to be able to pull it up for maintenance (so you need some kind of non-corrosive frame for it to sit on that is attached to the water pan described below).  Run your EPDM sheets below the wood floor about 6-8 inches and then fold them back upwards about 6 inches before you clamp and have your clamping arrangement be at a slight uphill angle away from the shower so moisture can only wick up there and not flow up there.  The folded bottom of the EPDM hangs down into a metal sealed seam non-corrosive pan which has walls that rise up to the clamp location.  The pan directs the water into a drain hole and on to your water catchment system.   (you would need to use a wood which can handle being wet frequently such as teak or the kind of wood used in steam sauna's or the manufactured deck wood (Trex is one brand).  This arrangement would keep the water away from the clamped location and also ensure that water does not pool or splash on the clamped location.  And you can grab the floor lift it out and easily clean any crud off any surfaces and also inspect your installation occasionally. 

These are some very interesting suggestions. Thanks.

I need to think about this some more and do a couple of extra rounds of Google, before proceeding. There is still time...


[/quote]
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: skanky on March 07, 2014, 10:37:38 AM
Hi Neven,

I remember using tile-less walk in showers in some hot countries in the distant past (eg Mexico) but don't know what they used instead (I was some sort of treated render). I tried to look it up but found this instead:

https://designnsuch.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/alternative-to-stone-and-tile-in-the-shower/ (https://designnsuch.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/alternative-to-stone-and-tile-in-the-shower/)

Also this with the early discussion of the pasters:
http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=3297 (http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=3297)

The shower panels they talk about come from many manufacturers, here's a couple of examples:
http://www.bathroommarquee.co.uk/ (http://www.bathroommarquee.co.uk/)
https://www.wetwall.com/ (https://www.wetwall.com/)

Re the sealant, I have seen someone use an extrusion (I think the term is) frame over the top of the sealant (the base is embedded in it). While it doesn't remove the need, it tends to keep it dry, so it doesn't develop mould and need replacing.

Finally, if you are still going down the EPDM route, you can get EPDM tiles that are designed for children's play areas. They could make a durable, soft and non-slip base.

Just a few ideas - I doubt any are completely new.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 07, 2014, 11:21:49 PM
Thanks a lot for sharing this, skanky.

Hi Neven,

I remember using tile-less walk in showers in some hot countries in the distant past (eg Mexico) but don't know what they used instead (I was some sort of treated render).
Somehow it's difficult to find much info on this (tadelakt was mentioned earlier), at least if you want to do it without all the plastic stuff.

A couple of days ago I found one picture of a back-to-the-land-style shower that I forgot to share here. Some kind of plaster full of black stains (probably mold).

Somehow I think that a render/plaster/stucco will turn problematic over time, but it's useful at joints and corners.

Quote
I tried to look it up but found this instead:

https://designnsuch.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/alternative-to-stone-and-tile-in-the-shower/ (https://designnsuch.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/alternative-to-stone-and-tile-in-the-shower/)
Looks nice, but this turned me off:

The shower process went like this…
Install water resistant durock (it’s purple) to form walls of shower.
A cementitious waterproofing system called Acryl Thoroseal was applied on top of the durock and all joints were taped with a special membrane tape.
Then the Deco-Poz was applied. We are now going to seal that with a two part Epoxy sealer from V-SEAL called StoneLok E3 used in tandem with StoneLok E2.

The shower pan is a rubberized shower pan and concrete was applied over that to create the slope of the shower floor. It was then finished with the Deco-Poz.


Reduce, reuse, recycle?  ;D

Quote
Also this with the early discussion of the pasters:
http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=3297 (http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/comments.php?DiscussionID=3297)
That's an interesting forum, thanks.

Quote
The shower panels they talk about come from many manufacturers, here's a couple of examples:
http://www.bathroommarquee.co.uk/ (http://www.bathroommarquee.co.uk/)
https://www.wetwall.com/ (https://www.wetwall.com/)

Panels are interesting, but still need sealants at joints and corners. That Wetwall site made me chuckle a bit. First they have this:

Our panels are constructed by bonding High Pressure Laminate (HPL) to a Medite MR MDF core using a PVA (D4 rate) adhesive system to give a completely waterproof surface. This meets all the requirements of EN438. A balancing laminate is bonded to the reverse of the panel also using the PVA adhesive system.

Followed by:

Ecological

Laminated panels feel much warmer than tiles and have a significantly lower u value (Thermal insulation) 3.4 typically compared to 5.9 (tiles). This means that Wetwall helps to keep your bathroom or shower room cosy - our panels lose less heat and are therefore more efficient. Also because our panels are guaranteed for 10 years, which is significantly greater than alternative materials, this reduces their need to be replaced as frequently hence the obvious environmental effect.


Pretty smart. They probably know that a percentage of potential customers are a bit like me. All in all it doesn't sound very eco, but I'm not an expert. And like I said, it's not like EPDM and an acrylic shower pan are panacae. If they were, I'd start a company called Shower Panacea.  ;)

That Bathroom Marquee website (http://www.bathroommarquee.co.uk/shower-alcove.php) had a very nice no-nonsense pre-fab alcove shower cabin though:

(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bathroommarquee.co.uk%2Fenvirotec%2Falcove-colours.jpg&hash=c9c7000e4853b231f8490999c2ac0610)

Not so cheap.   :'(

I've looked a bit into EPDM and mildew, but apart from a lot of info on how to keep your rubber RV roof clean, couldn't find that much. Except that a squeegee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squeegee) (a word I had never heard or read before) would be useful in wiping the EPDM so that it dries out quicker.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: skanky on March 07, 2014, 11:47:52 PM
We use a squeegee on the tiles in our very standard UK bathroom, to reduce mould, so it's not overly arduous.  :P

I think you're basically going to have to make an ecological compromise one way or another with a bathroom in cold climates. There are trade-offs though and you might find that the best you can do is go for the longest lasting stuff. Finding the right expert is perhaps the best approach?

Good luck anyhow. Wish I'd looked into this before I bought my house years back. :)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ccgwebmaster on March 08, 2014, 05:20:10 AM
I think you're basically going to have to make an ecological compromise one way or another with a bathroom in cold climates. There are trade-offs though and you might find that the best you can do is go for the longest lasting stuff. Finding the right expert is perhaps the best approach?

Given the energy and resource inputs of manufacturing involved in even more environmentally friendly options, I'd tend to agree longevity might be the most environmentally friendly choice - even if the materials and processes used to make it aren't quite so much?

I don't even have a shower as being discussed per se yet though, so I can't really comment  :-X

http://www.duckworksbbs.com/gear/shower/index.htm (http://www.duckworksbbs.com/gear/shower/index.htm)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 08, 2014, 10:05:36 AM
I think you're basically going to have to make an ecological compromise one way or another with a bathroom in cold climates. There are trade-offs though and you might find that the best you can do is go for the longest lasting stuff. Finding the right expert is perhaps the best approach?

Given the energy and resource inputs of manufacturing involved in even more environmentally friendly options, I'd tend to agree longevity might be the most environmentally friendly choice - even if the materials and processes used to make it aren't quite so much?

I agree, and that's why I'm thinking of EPDM. Take this for instance (found here (http://www.buildings.com/article-details/articleid/9411/title/epdm-sustainability-and-the-environment.aspx)):

What material can support a vehicle going 120 mph through a steaming desert and still be flexible at -45 degrees C. (-49 degrees F.)? For roofing applications, materials must also have a high degree of weatherability – especially resistance to water, pollutants, UV rays, and impact and general traffic resistance.

Materials that meet these requirements are called elastomers. ASTM D-1079 defines an elastomer as “a macromolecular material that returns rapidly to its approximate initial dimensions and shape after substantial deformation by a weak stress and subsequent release of that stress.”

EPDM has advantages over other elastomers in that its weathering resistance is extraordinary and its raw materials are highly cost effective.

(...)

LEED
EPDM has proven to be extremely durable and maintainable. Warranties have recently been increased to 30 years in many cases; with proper maintenance, life can be extended even longer. Single-ply membranes are thinner than BUR and modified bituminous membranes (45 to 90 mils compared to one-quarter inch or more) so, at the ultimate end of life, there is less volume headed to the landfills. The ballast is recyclable, whereas roofing gravel is embedded in asphalt and can’t be reused (except with great difficulty). From a transportation point of view, ballast and pavers can be produced locally while shipping of large EPDM rolls from the few U.S. factories is not overly burdensome. There has been some success in recycling the rubber membranes, with more than 5 million square feet of membrane recycled in the past 3 years. So far, recyclers will only accept un-adhered membrane – the adhesives and attached insulation facers are too difficult to process.


I found this graph in this PDF (http://www.epdmroofs.org/attachments/2010_12_newlifecycledataforepdm_tomhutchinson.pdf) on EPDM life cycle analysis:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-tIbAo9yfZjc/UxrbQos3RXI/AAAAAAAABk8/KvXWVna-LOM/s745/EPDM%2520LCA.jpg)

The production process is dependent on oil (byproducts), though.

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ccgwebmaster on March 08, 2014, 10:55:09 AM
The production process is dependent on oil (byproducts), though.

Using oil for manufacturing things - materials and chemicals - is arguably substantially better than using it simply to burn. Of course avoiding it's use in manufacture is desirable, but some materials and pharmaceuticals I think cases can be made pending organic alternatives (possibly the organic waste to oil processes could yield suitable feedstock - not sure offhand).

I'm curious though - the above figures - how are they calculating global warming potential? Is that the carbon embedded in the product (which is necessarily bound up for a long time, albeit not perhaps as long as the oil before it was pumped from the ground), or does it include a big hit for manufacturing processes etc on the assumption they are fossil powered?

You've inspired me to look up the figures for steel (my boat being steel) and apparently the new steel I've added likely makes me responsible for several tonnes of carbon dioxide. If one included the rest of the vessel in my footprint (as though I had built it all rather than bought the hull) it would need to last rather a long time to give an acceptable figure (and of course making it last entails painting and maintenance all of which consume energy and materials based on oil).

How do you think your total emission figures will stack up for your house in the end? How does that play out over the expected lifespan of the structure? (mild steel is capable of being maintained and repaired almost indefinitely if you keep on top of things - but the keeping on top of it is critical).
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: sidd on March 08, 2014, 07:09:51 PM
Over many centuries tile/concrete has been used because it is better than alternates. One way to reduce fossil use is scavenging. Last bathroom i put in was entirely built with tiles and concrete board scavenged from other construction and demolition projects. So much left, that next bathroom on the list is covered. (I have plenty of storage space, these are farm properties.)

If you play your cards right, they will pay you to haul the (usable debris/leftover) from demolition or new build sites. The fossil burden is already incurred, you add nothing by repurpose, and save landfill volume. Downside is that i still get fonecalls from contractors who would love me to haul more such (to them) junk away, since their waste haulage/landfill tipping fees are exploding. If you have access to, say, a triaxle hauler, you may never need to buy construction material again.

Good luck, let us know how it turns out.

sidd
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 08, 2014, 10:02:13 PM
How do you think your total emission figures will stack up for your house in the end?

I want to calculate this when we're done. I think we did OK. We used as little concrete as possible, by putting the house on concrete pillars instead of a slab (I think I posted pictures at the start of the thread). More than 90% of total materials is wood and cellulose (recycled paper). A lot of the materials have been sourced regionally. We're buying as much second hand stuff as we can.

And if everything turns near to what I expect/hope, we should be needing very little energy. Relatively speaking, that is. My estimation is about 4000 kWh per year for a family of 3, and that includes hot water and heating. Our solar panel array will produce around 6000 kWh per year. Oh, and we stole this plot back from a corn field. We're planning to grow around 10 trees and lots of plants.

Either way, it's much better emission-wise than a brick and concrete home, but how much better, I don't know yet.

What's disappointing, is that there's a young lad we know, who comes around every now and then to pick up ideas for the house he plans to build this year. He's quite eco-conscious, but still adamant about building a brick house. It depresses me a bit, because I'm also building this house to show others what can be done. But everyone builds brick houses, here in Austria. It's so ingrained in the mentality (from the 50's-90's) , although there's a fantastic wood working tradition here.

Quote
How does that play out over the expected lifespan of the structure? (mild steel is capable of being maintained and repaired almost indefinitely if you keep on top of things - but the keeping on top of it is critical).
When keeping on top, the lifespan should be more than 80 years. But that's my guess, could be much more, especially as we're building in such a way that everything can be replaced. Some luck is needed though. There might be big construction mistakes or and accident.

Over many centuries tile/concrete has been used because it is better than alternates. One way to reduce fossil use is scavenging. Last bathroom i put in was entirely built with tiles and concrete board scavenged from other construction and demolition projects. So much left, that next bathroom on the list is covered. (I have plenty of storage space, these are farm properties.)

If you play your cards right, they will pay you to haul the (usable debris/leftover) from demolition or new build sites. The fossil burden is already incurred, you add nothing by repurpose, and save landfill volume. Downside is that i still get fonecalls from contractors who would love me to haul more such (to them) junk away, since their waste haulage/landfill tipping fees are exploding. If you have access to, say, a triaxle hauler, you may never need to buy construction material again.

Good luck, let us know how it turns out.

sidd

Thanks, sidd. I will.

My favourite place is the local garbage dump. It's mindboggling to see what people throw away! I often take my daughter with me who finds stuff she likes there, so we don't have to buy toys. When she's done, we bring it back again.

A couple of weeks ago the guys working there approached me (slightly aggressively) to tell me that scavenging was now against the law. I understood their problem: 1) people coming from Hungary to sell the Austrian garbage back home, and 2) potential accusations of them doing business on the side. But still I tried to make clear that I was a local, and that it was a shame to let those things go to waste. They even have big signs promoting stufff like 'reduce, re-use, recycle'!

One argument was so silly. The guy told me that they got complaints from people who were actually annoyed that their stuff was re-used, rather than destroyed. Austrians are like that with their stuff (not all of them, of course). So I asked if I could take the non-personal stuff, like bricks and wood and metal scraps. No, I couldn't.

In the end the guy said: "OK, I'll let you take that table, but it's the last time!" To which I replied: "OK, I'll pay you later!". Unfortunately, Austrians don't get my sense of humour yet.  ;)

But I'm going to have to talk to the boss, or even the mayor. I need my garbage dump. Where else can I scavenge? I'm so not ashamed about that!  ;D
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ccgwebmaster on March 08, 2014, 10:12:54 PM
One argument was so silly. The guy told me that they got complaints from people who were actually annoyed that their stuff was re-used, rather than destroyed. Austrians are like that with their stuff (not all of them, of course). So I asked if I could take the non-personal stuff, like bricks and wood and metal scraps. No, I couldn't.

This is all too common, and I think a sad reflection of the modern mentality of wealth and entitlement where someone feels they paid for the item and therefore nobody else should use it even after they have finished with it as obviously they should go out and work and buy another. One of the worst forms of petty envy, surely (usually it is directed at someone of lesser means - I generally find poorer people much faster to share or pass on things that still have value left as they understand the benefits of cooperation here better).

I've used quite a considerable number of pieces of "scrap" or "someones trash" myself for my vessel quite happily. Too broke to do otherwise and most of that stuff has a minimum of many years of good service left in it.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: sidd on March 09, 2014, 06:51:14 AM
Don't need  to go so far down the chain as landfill or dump site. Look at the local ads in the paper, see who the construction guys are, offer to come in an haul away whatever you can use. They are paying for every cubic yard of waste they got to have hauled and tipped, you gonna save em money.

Incidentally, incredible tool for concrete board and tile scavenging, just came out a couple years ago, look at "Rotozip" .

The bits cost, US$80 or so, and (gotto wear breathing protection for concrete board, and of course, eye shield all the time), but it is a pretty thing to see it going thru tile and masonry. closest thing i seen to freehand. Beats the hell outta screwing with grinders or tilesaw for small work. Of course, tile is an art, if you design and execute right there is very little small work. (I'm not nearly that good.) But checkout rotozip, if you scavenge tile, or for that matter concrete board.

sidd
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: bligh8 on March 19, 2014, 12:59:03 AM
 

I'm not sure if wood would work. I have a friend who makes furniture and we discussed making a shower cabin out of larch, but I think it would look less and less welcoming very quickly. And I'm not sure about how water-proof it is, especially at the seams (which are always the problem areas in construction). Oh, and it would be mucho expensive
[/quote]

Neven
This customer had a ongoing and continuous mold/moister problem.
I’ve done this to several bathroom ceilings where power ventilation was not economically feasible. The wood is Knotty Pine tongue and grove, 5/16thx6in,
Pin nailed through the tongue to the rafters. The entire job is inexpensive, attractive (depending on one’s taste). It works well for moister control as the wood absorbs excess moister and over time releases it. I coated this ceiling with a hand rubbed thin coat of Shellac; this ceiling is 4 yrs old.  I would not use wood where there was direct water contact.


Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: idunno on March 27, 2014, 10:36:24 PM
I have it on several good authorities that the best wood to use anywhere damp is chestnut. It never rots.

I am tired. Solar thermal, Neven. Solar thermal. Scavenge some old radiators, paint 'em black, enclose in insulated boxes, under old scavenged windows, litter these around your roof; and when you've worked out how to stop them boiling and exploding, you could always use these pages to post up some advice that is so simple that even tired people can follow it.

Seriously, solar thermal works; so damned well that there is nobody making enough profit installing it to make it worthwhile to publicise it via the interthingy. Solar thermal is just better than;

1. Photovoltaic

2. Microwind

3. Tidal

4. Macrowind offshore or on

5. Conventional nuclear

etc, etc...

47. Coal

Unless you're holding out for micro-thorium, solar thermal. You need a clever plumber.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: bligh8 on March 28, 2014, 12:09:12 AM
Id
Trust me, all wood rots…except teak. Your, however correct in that chestnut is a higher density wood, and would be less likely to rot than say pine. In a low moister environment like a bath, the 5/16in. pine has worked fine for years, without mold or degradation. The down side of chestnut is expense where pine is relatively cheap. I posted this, as an alternative to power ventilation, but none of this may be necessary, if I remember correctly there’s a window in the room in question.

I like your idea of solar thermal…sounds as if it would work. Providing the structural integrity of the roof was designed for that kind of weight. Standard 2x6 framing rafters on 18in centers are not designed for load bearing items. Commercial grade buildings where heat/a/c units are on the roof there’s 2/12 box framing over a load-bearing wall, supporting these items.

Best,
Bligh
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 28, 2014, 12:14:39 AM
Quote
Solar thermal is just better than;

1. Photovoltaic

Personally, I'm not sure of that, idunno. Solar thermal always was a no-brainer for me, as it's cheap and everything. But then, when I started investigating, it occurred to me that you need quite a bit of material, there's quite a bit of plumbing, there's a pump that uses electricity. And then when someone told me about his problems with solar thermal (and this is a smart and very handy guy), about leakage because things would get just too hot in summer. Way too much hot water in summer, barely anything in winter (meaning you need a second system to heat your water).

I agree, it used to be true that solar thermal was the way to go, but PV has overtaken now. It's smaller, simpler (relatively, still need an inverter), lasts longer, and combined with a good heat pump, very hard to beat when it comes to energy efficiency. Besides, electricity is much more versatile than heat, and can always be used for something. Add some batteries (modern ones, not lead acid) and things really start to get interesting.

PV shares solar thermal's winter problem though. I'm starting with a PV array and a high-quality heat pump, and then want to see how that works for a year or two. If needed, I will add a water-heating wood oven (80% water - 20% air) for those couple of winter weeks where electricity isn't enough. I hope that in a year or 2, 3 something really interesting gets developed for storage.

In my case solar thermal wasn't the best option.

As for your other points:

Quote
2. Microwind

3. Tidal

4. Macrowind offshore or on

5. Conventional nuclear

etc, etc...

47. Coal

I'm not a fan of either of these energy sources, and also would pick take solar thermal. Energy efficiency and practical minimalism are the best energy sources.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: idunno on March 28, 2014, 08:38:28 AM
Hi Neven,

thanks for your typically thoughtful response to my typically thoughtless post (forgot you'd aready picked option 1)

please read above as me writing a memo to self; its one of the next tasks on my list. I hope to collect rainwater into a header tank, with a stopcock, and have the whole fandango gravity-powered and not pressurised; thus avoiding explosions.

meanwhile, all this cultiver le jardin has me done up, mais il faut...
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: TerryM on March 28, 2014, 08:57:15 AM
Idunno
Watch out for anything but copper tubing to connect your system. Any of the plastics, (PVC or ABS) expand enormously with temperature change and will pull themselves apart. A tight loop of soft drawn copper allows expansion and can keep everything dry (thats supposed to be dry).
Good lock with your build & keep us informed.
Terry
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on March 28, 2014, 04:35:03 PM
I have both solar PV and solar domestic hot water. In North America solar domestic hot water is as expensive to install as PV now.

In Canada solar hot water cannot supply enough hot water during the winter because of a combination of short days and rather cold temperature of input water. This is even the case with a system with angles optimized for winter and sized too large for summer (have to dissipate excess heat) with a 300 liter storage tank. So back up heating is required.

In general people also use more electrical energy than hot water energy so the electrical energy generated by PV is likely a more important offset. Like solar hot water winter generation of PV electricity is very low for several months a year but huge excesses in generation (relative to my consumption) are provided to the grid for my neighbours to use.

Despite my solar hot water not being as cost efficient as my PV it results in more CO2 reduction since hot water is otherwise heated by a high efficiency natural gas heater and electricity here is over 50% nuke and maybe 25% hydro and 0 coal generated. As such the best part of my roof is used by the hot water system.

If you are going for a homemade solar water system you can likely do it for less than solar PV but building code requirements here make the whole design/installation/inspection process quite expensive. If those don't constrain you I'd suggest you look into the very inexpensive and simple systems used for heating swimming pools. They aren't usable in the winter but in my opinion the winter can be considered a write off. Overall annual gain is probably increased if the system is focused on the non-winter months anyway.

I'm not positive home made solar water would be significantly less than PV as well. The vast majority of the cost of PV now is installation and meeting code and local electricity requirements. If you purchase and install PV yourself in an environment without high soft costs it is a bargain relative to the return.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 28, 2014, 04:59:30 PM
Good points, ghoti.

Let me re-stress: Until not too long ago solar thermal was the way to go here in Europe (Germany and Austria), and probably still is in other places, depending on the area. I think PV combined with a heat pump for warm water is the way to go for our situation, because it's just as cheap in the long run and (relatively) simpler.

They're both good.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: SATire on March 28, 2014, 10:22:29 PM
I think PV combined with a heat pump for warm water is the way to go for our situation
I concur to that. The only more efficient combination is wind and heat pump. But for that you need 99 neighbours needing such a solution at the same time. So practically PV is the way to go for individuals.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on March 28, 2014, 11:33:58 PM
I love heat pumps. Technically I still have one but it is air to air and by today's standards very inefficient. Now mine can only be used as an air conditioner but it hasn't been powered up since the major power outage of 2003 that struck many millions of people in North America.

I've considered a ground sourced heat pump but they cost scandalously huge amounts of money. They don't make any sense here if you don't air condition your house. There isn't a good reason for their very high price other than the money they save - the price isn't based on the cost of manufacture and installation.

Since you own a field next to your house you probably could install a ground loop for a less outrageous price than us city folk. I venture to say if you want it for heating water a heat pump is much more costly than any other method including the fanciest Solar domestic hot water system.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 29, 2014, 09:52:39 AM
I venture to say if you want it for heating water a heat pump is much more costly than any other method including the fanciest Solar domestic hot water system.

Perhaps this is true. I must say that I haven't calculated very precisely. Basically my calculation boiled down to this: Solar thermal costs about 3500 Euros over here (subsidy subtracted). Heat pumps for heating water and air are very expensive, although relatively cheaper than oil or gas heaters. But as our house has pretty good insulation values, we decided to go for just water heating. The air-water heat pump (300 l/75 gallon tank) we ordered is Austrian-made, very efficient, high quality, and costs around 2250 Euros. We could've taken a Chinese version, which would've cost about 500-750 Euros less, but I try not to do that, if I can. There are additional costs for the PV solar array (costs: approx. 7500 Euros), of course, but it's difficult to say how much of that would need to go to the heat pump.

Although solar thermal modules would've fitted on our roof, it gets a bit crowded with the PV. I also wasn't thrilled about all the piping involved, having to go through the roof twice (thermal bridge), and then from the front of the house to the back of the house (albeit under the roof, not downstairs). The system we have now is much simpler, and easier for me to visualize, which is good, as I want to be in control and do a lot myself. One other minor advantage: the heat pump cools the air in the attic in Summer.

So, again, I think this was the best option for us. But we'll have to see how things work out in practice.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on March 29, 2014, 10:06:30 AM
The other two options I investigated:

1) Just simple electric boilers (one for each bath room) with 100-150 l capacity (25-40 gallons), but the heat pump is 4 times more efficient. I get a kick out of efficiency, and I also have less of a problem during winter, when PV will at times not be enough to heat water.

2) Tankless heaters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_heating#Tankless_heaters) are the most efficient way of heating water, in the sense that you don't have any losses and water can't calcify. You also need very a lot less material than for other options, and no additional plumbing required. BUT, these babies need at least 10 kilowatts to do their thing. That amount of energy cannot be supplied by my 5.25 kWp PV solar array under the best circumstances (5000 W is the max, maybe a bit more), let alone during winter. That was the deal breaker for me, although this was my first option for quite a while.

And so we opted for the heat pump. If our house were less well-insulated, solar thermal + wood oven (50% water, 50% air), might have been the best way to go.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on March 31, 2014, 09:16:27 PM
I hadn't even considered an air to water heat pump just for heating water. I don't think they even exist here. The cost you list is the same or lower than tankless natural gas systems sold here (though rarely because of the high cost) and certainly sounds preferable.

Your winter temperatures are clearly much warmer than ours. Many winter nights with sub -20C temperatures here make air source heat pumps rather less efficient than they otherwise might be.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Lucas Durand on April 04, 2014, 05:37:32 PM
Hi Neven,
Not to confuse your plans but I had a few thoughts while catching up with some of this discussion.

With respect to solar thermal heating...
I will be installing a solar thermal system on my own house - despite the fact that this is now considered to make very little sense in a market now dominated by cheap PV and increased availability of heat pumps.
The reason I choose to do so is that a solar thermal system contributes a lot of resilience by virtue of being very simple and reliable (possibly more "maintainable" than a more complicated PV/heat pump combination) - especially when using flat-plate collectors, ground mounted in a closed-loop system using a DC pump directly wired to a small PV module.
In my climate, I will almost certainly not get all the bulk hot water I want from solar thermal, but I know that if the grid is down I should always have at least some bulk hot water for occasional use.
If you are adventurous you can always experiment with thermosyphon heat exchangers between a wood burning appliance and the water tank to make up the extra heat missing on cloudy/short days (these can be done quite well but a constant eye towards safety is very important).
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on April 05, 2014, 12:12:23 AM
You're right, Lucas, and I should've mentioned it: PV is more complex than Solar thermal (although I probably couldn't do much with the latter either). I was surprised at how big my inverter was. Solar thermal is better if you want to be even more independent.

I'm experimenting a bit with loam and wood shavings to fill the interior walls, as I can't get the hemp insulation boards I wanted, and frankly, it's too costly at this point. I'll report if things work out (with emphasis on work ;-) ).
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Tor Bejnar on April 05, 2014, 04:36:34 AM
I've not been following your homebuilding project hardly at all, but you are smart to get so much input from others. 

I built a ~1 KwHr/day solar-electric (off grid) reused timber-framed house in New Hampshire, USA in the 1980's.  Wanting simple systems, I heated the house and DHW (domestic hot water) with a wood cook stove (Amish designed stainless steel construction - loved it).  For summer DHW, I put a 5 gallon tank in a black box with a single pane of glass over it to pre-heat water for a traditional (free-used-old) propane DHW tank that didn't come on very often.  Although I had an inverter, I also used 24 volt DC lighting where I most needed it.  (Today, of course, PVs are much cheaper and better!)  I did keep two 55 gallon barrels in the attic for when my water pump wouldn't work (low batteries wouldn't provide enough juice to start the pump 200' down the well)- the water siphoned into the home's system when the valve was opened.

I loved raising my daughters in an environment where they could connect life's chores (like fetching firewood from the wood shed) with life (it's cold without heat). 

When I moved to Florida, I gained weight (no more shoveling/plowing the 0.8 km driveway [or walking it when it closed due to ice buildup and then mud season] or cutting/splitting wood) and I'm back to earning money to pay for mains electricity and a switch on the wall that kicks in the AC (ground sourced heat pump).  My persistent winter cough went away though: breathing some smoke, it seems, was worse for me than our intense pollen season.

A neighbor family had their shower stall lined with cedar shingles; I presume it grew moss if they didn't use chemical cleaners.  (I installed a "seconds" fiberglass shower stall.)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: JimD on April 09, 2014, 05:43:40 PM
Neven

You have competition!

This couple built their own tiny home for $10,000

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/this-couple-built-their-own-tiny-home-for-less-than--10-000-162920658.html (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/this-couple-built-their-own-tiny-home-for-less-than--10-000-162920658.html)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: yan on May 08, 2014, 11:02:48 PM
Hi Neven

I discover your "excellentissimo" Sea Ice Blog a few mouths ago but just today the forum on "ecological house" and "gardening".

Following 2 images:
- my solar house that y build in 2010
(https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fimagesia.com%2Fmaison-bio-yaya-copie_j9zd&hash=d003568add39ff2f0dca09e62cefa4a6)
- the garden designed with the principes of Permaculture

I live in South France near Aix-en-Provence. The house is larger enouth for 2 familys, it's a kind of "little community house", we share electricity sources and hot water. Each family need less than 25 kWh / m2 / year for heating+cooling+electricity.  My family is at the floor. The garden in Permaculture is very resilient when we have high temperature , ex. 38°C for several days in summer.

If you or anyone have any questions on solar house or ecological gardens I will be happy to describe my experiences on this topics. (excuse my limited english)


Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Laurent on May 09, 2014, 09:15:49 AM
Hello Yan,

That's an interesting experience. Don't you have a website ? If you want to show us your experience with your garden in the garden thread...thanks in advance.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on May 09, 2014, 10:48:40 AM
Seconded. I'd like to hear more about high temperatures and your mulching techniques.

Very nice house, Yan! How do you heat and cool, and how many kWp is there mounted on the roof? 25 kWh per m2 is very sharp. Well done.

I've been doing some stuff (filling inner walls with loam and wood shavings) that I'll share some images of soon.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: yan on May 09, 2014, 02:00:07 PM
Neven and laurent I will be happy if I can help  ;)

Neven, we have 22,6 kWp of solar pv on the roof. The solar generator produce 20 times (!!) the need for the 2 familys so we resale electricity to the national operator (price 60 cent / kWh). Electricity consumption for the 2 familys: 1600 kWh / year.
Monitoring pv production since 2010: http://www.bdpv.fr/fiche_utilisateur.php?util=yan13 (http://www.bdpv.fr/fiche_utilisateur.php?util=yan13)

The house is solar passiv so during the winter solar is enough for about 60% of heating need. For additional heating each family has a little wood furnace of 4 kW. For the entire cold season each family burne 2 m3 of local pinwood (we cut it before buiding the house because we are in the forest). During the hot days of summer we need...nothing to cold the house  :) . Bulkhead inside the house are made of heavy compressed mud brick which accumluate the fresh during the night  (we just need ventilation and we open windows) and restitute it during the day. Compressed bricks have a interesting capacity of "thermal phase displacement" during 12hours and it works both for the refresh in summer and heating in winter.
About the house and its construction: http://habitat-et-environnement.net/ (http://habitat-et-environnement.net/)
(sorry only french) but you have numeros photos and videos in the subnail "Galeries photo et video" 


Garden in Permaculture.
The main advantage for us with Permaculture approch is to reduce water consomption. We estimate that we can divide by 2 or 3 the need for water compare to a traditionnal garden with no protection of the soil. Secondly we need no chemical treatments, we appreciate organic food. And of course we respect natural process of soil, animals (worms) and plants.
I founded a non-profit association in my village (20 km north of Aix en Provence) to learn, share and develop experiences in Permaculture with the other inhabitants of the village.
On the website you will see plenty of photos of Permaculture: http://jardiniersdepeyrolles.over-blog.com/ (http://jardiniersdepeyrolles.over-blog.com/)
Slideshow "how to build a mound of soil" with Permaculture:
http://www.e-quilibres.net/espaces/paysdaixentransition/index.php?Esp=8&p=../inc/inc_description_article.php&Id=199 (http://www.e-quilibres.net/espaces/paysdaixentransition/index.php?Esp=8&p=../inc/inc_description_article.php&Id=199)


I'm a local member of "Transition Network", a worlwide movement founded by Rob Hopkins. Anyone have been hearing about ?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Laurent on May 09, 2014, 09:05:42 PM
Thank you,

We know hopkins of course. We had a discussion recently with the recent call of David Holmgren for an economic crash and the answer of hopkins.
http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,723.0.html (http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,723.0.html)

Do you plan to have small trees in your garden ?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on May 09, 2014, 09:55:54 PM
Oh wow, I have only read and not looked at any images yet, but I love your house, Yan! Fantastic work. A house of the future.

But 1600 kWh/yr for two families?! That's amazing. I believe pets in the US already consume that amount of electricity.  ;) ;D

Do both families live there all year round? How do you cook?

I'm hoping we can keep our electricity consumption below 3500-4000 kWh per year, although we have to heat and cook with electricity, and at one point we will also start using electric vehicles (bikes, perhaps scooter, car will be difficult). 60 cents per kWh is also nice, by the way, here in Austria we get 6-10 cents!

Quote
Bulkhead inside the house are made of heavy compressed mud brick which accumulate the fresh during the night  (we just need ventilation and we open windows) and restitute it during the day. Compressed bricks have a interesting capacity of "thermal phase displacement" during 12hours and it works both for the refresh in summer and heating in winter.

This is really awesome. We wanted to do the same as a house built of wood and cellulose as insulation doesn't have that much heat retention capacity. But then the gentleman who planned our house said that the weight would be too much (we built the house on concrete posts). If I would've known this beforehand I would've let them make a couple of extra concrete posts to support the walls.

What we're doing now, is mix loam from our plot with water and wood shavings, let that dry and then put it in the walls that are closed off with laths, which will be plastered with loam in a couple of weeks. This way we still get some mass in the house. The materials are ultra-cheap, very eco, but a lot of work, of course.

Here are some images...

Making of:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-YADbAGaYPdQ/U20xKUYBdgI/AAAAAAAABq0/Fq_G7MQ6BGQ/s640/tn_DSC05428.JPG)

Drying outside when weather permits:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-4CaFtMj6xCQ/U20xG62zAhI/AAAAAAAABqg/8ouobi_1vrg/s640/tn_DSC05430.JPG)

Drying inside when weather forbids:

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-f7xdD3EqW9w/U20xKssl9II/AAAAAAAABq4/zSXNS4rqS0s/s640/tn_DSC05458.JPG)

In the wall when dry:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-PX0h7qC5jds/U20xEJ84izI/AAAAAAAABqU/x8xCuC9bI7U/s500/tn_DSC05543.JPG)

Close-up 1:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ZqSt2AZbieU/U20xEAHBZzI/AAAAAAAABqY/CgjxOAygxfM/s640/tn_DSC05514.JPG)

Close-up 2:

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-snTiTuS92D8/U20xJEoOQCI/AAAAAAAABqo/AtxvHtdTPQ8/s500/tn_DSC05423.JPG)

I'm hoping for satisfying results with regards to acoustics, and good temperature+humidity compensating properties.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on May 09, 2014, 10:05:18 PM
And after watching this video I like your house even more (especially the toilet and the constructed wetland; I hope to have something similar up in a year or two):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Z9nX_PvTQ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6Z9nX_PvTQ)

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: yan on May 09, 2014, 11:54:01 PM
Neven

Oups   :-[ I mistake ! 1600 kWh / year of electricity consump it is for each family ...so for both it is near 4000 kWh / year. We do not make particular efforts: just class A++ appliances, led and fluorescent lights, laptop computers, electric bike. And now we have one 250 Wp solar panel (with micro inverter) directly plug into the house, production is not sold to operator. During the daylight electrcity feed directly the house and we buy almost nothing to the network (so we buy electricity for cloudy days and nignt). You can see the panel on the photo of the garden published above.

I m quiet confident  ;) you can achieve 4000 kWh / year even with a heat pomp.

Questions on your solar-roof: do you sell your surplus production to the operator or your entire production ?  How much cost the electricity you buy ?
Yes the feed in tarif is very hight for us and it helps a lot to pay the house (near 18 000 euros / year !). Our contract with operators was delivred in 2009, now the conditions have decreased for the newcomers: resale tarif is only between 14 and 27 cet / kWh, depends on the size.

The question of thermal inertia is very important for passive house and we choose a concrete basement at the conception for this reason: or interior brick walls at the flor weight 20 Tons and of course it would have been impossible to suppport it on a wood flor. At the first floor we partially do same as you did: mix loam with little piece of straw, thickness between 2 and 4 cm. Result: not only it is nice for the eyes but it is quiet good for vapor regulation and inertia. Not as good as big wall of bricks of course, but clearly better than classical houses with polysterene bulkead . Anyway you should obtain a good vapor "natural" regulation and you will also appreciate a good sensation of comfort, thurthermore it is good for health (no cold), acoustic should be good too.

Question for heating: what will you use ? heat pomp or wood stove or else ?

My motivation for the dry toilets was partially induced by that joke:  "When you affirm to an African that every day you use toilets with drinkable water, guess what does he answer you ? He answer: I don't believe you !"


Laurent
I did not know that there was a litlle "controversy" between Holmgreen and Hopkins about "How can we save us and the planet". I'am fan of both men but...perhaps a little more fan of Hopkins who is so positive and federate this powerful worlwide movement. My point of view is that the most important is to be able to hear deeply inside you and do things that fit you the more, not suffering from the others. In my case I am very conscious that I Love Mother Earth, resilience and solar energy so I simply act in that way and I appreciate a lot to exchange experiences with others.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on May 10, 2014, 01:14:46 AM
Quote
Oups   :-[ I mistake ! 1600 kWh / year of electricity consump it is for each family ...so for both it is near 4000 kWh / year.

That is still a very decent number, to put it mildly.

Quote
Questions on your solar-roof: do you sell your surplus production to the operator or your entire production ?  How much cost the electricity you buy ?

I sell the surplus. Electricity costs around 20 cts per kWh here. I hope in a year or 2-3 to add a battery system to increase our use of self-generated electricity from 35% to around 75%.

Quote
Question for heating: what will you use ? heat pomp or wood stove or else ?

We will try infrared heating for a winter or two. If we're not happy with that we'll add a wood stove that also heats water that can be stored in the 300L tank attached to our warmwater heat pump.

Quote
The question of thermal inertia is very important for passive house

Indeed. One interesting aspect I read about while designing the house, is that you really need heat retention capacity (if that's the right word) if your passive house has a lot of windows. Less windows means less heat retention capacity needed, but not too little windows, of course. Because windows are more expensive than walls (that have better insulation), and because in this part of Austria we get long periods of overcast skies during autumn and winter - and also a lot of fog where we live - I've tried to find a balance between the two. I'll have to see how it works out, because I found it impossible to calculate.

One last question, Yan: do you use any ventilation system with heat recovery?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: jai mitchell on May 10, 2014, 05:55:07 AM
I am very favorable to dry toilets, I know a family that has used this technique for years.  They produce almost 3 cubic meters of soil per year, good for gardening (after 2 years) using a method developed here:  http://humanurehandbook.com/ (http://humanurehandbook.com/)

they are 4 in their family.

1600kwh per family per year is very good. 

I use an air to water heat pump it uses 1/2 of normal electricity to heat water http://www.hotwater.com/water-heaters/residential/conventional/electric/voltex-hybrid-electric/ (http://www.hotwater.com/water-heaters/residential/conventional/electric/voltex-hybrid-electric/)

for heating I like to use passive heat (windows, good insulation, large thermal mass (concrete subfloor, etc.)  however I have found a new type of design that uses passive solar for rooftop heating, very innovative they use recycled aluminum cans. 

If you heat with electricity and have a contract with your operator for 60 cents you will make money with this kind of system:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFVkj2fSals (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFVkj2fSals)

If I was to make this for myself I would make the collector area airtight and install a fitting so that I could pressurize it with sulfur hexafluoride so that it is thermally insulated.  This should be able to produce significant heating on even cloudy days.

I am very impressed with your beautiful home!

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: icefest on May 10, 2014, 06:03:20 AM
Sulfur Hexaflouride is also one of the most potent GHGs yet discovered, and IIRC banned for several uses in the EU.

Argon conducts only slightly more heat and is much, much better for the environment.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: yan on May 10, 2014, 12:35:26 PM
Neven,

You are absolutely right, it's almost impossible to calculate heat retention/inertia for a individual house. In our case we follow the advises of a very experience thermician man (he design compressed brick houses since 1982 !) who never use computer for his calculation, juste simple ratio, ex: % of glass / mass of ground floor.

Thermal inertia is link with heating system. I understand that it is not the sun that will heat a lot your house during winter, so the infrared will come from "something" inside the house and will have to be stacked has much has possible in your heavy loam walls. My feeling is that a small wood stove will probably be the best solution for that kind of fonction, you just have to chose correctly where you install it, much possible at the center of the house and much possible near a wall with thermal inertia.  I suppose that in Austria it is commun to see wood stove in recent houses ?

We have a simple ventilation system. Air comes from the basement and is evacued with un extractor (manually adjustable 30 to 100 m3 /h) situated in the bathroom of each family. And we have an extracting surplus with the fireplace leads during the winter. Contrary to traditionnal non-ecological houses we don't have a lot of humididy to extract mechanicaly because all our peripharal walls allow vapor to come through and it will be the same thing in your house, humidy will be partly absorb by your loam walls and partly exchanged with exterior through your wall in wood and cellulose wadding. On the over side ventilation don't make us loose to much eat or fresh because wall have lot of inertia. Humidity is a fondamental parameter for the "sense of comfort" and good health of people who lived inside the house.

I'm also interested by a battery system, not this year but soon I hope. I expect good news for price decrease with multiplication of new electric cars and Tesla Giga-factory...and in he same time it would help solve CO2 emissions in transports. I'm quiet confident that solar pv + battery storage is going to be one major solution to AGW all other the world. What do you think ?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Jim Hunt on May 10, 2014, 01:36:12 PM
Hi Yan,

I'm quiet confident that solar pv + battery storage is going to be one major solution to AGW all other the world. What do you think ?

I have much professional interest such matters, but I'd describe my view as "hopeful" rather than "confident". Based on my experience here in the UK, the politicians that wax lyrical about "Enabl[ing] new low carbon technology to be deployed" have no idea what they are talking about. See for example:

http://www.V2G.co.uk/2014/03/uk-smart-grid-vision-lukewarm-on-v2g/ (http://www.V2G.co.uk/2014/03/uk-smart-grid-vision-lukewarm-on-v2g/)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: yan on May 10, 2014, 02:24:07 PM
Hi Jim,
Yes sometimes I 'm very positive about difficult subject such has CO2 emissions from transport. I recognize and assume that "confident" is rather optimistic. I have friends who have electric vehicule and a few who recharge it with a solar roof, it works pretty well. I'm not shure that V2G or V2H will be necessery, it seems complicated. I would prefer 1 small battery pack for home (5 to 10 kWh, connected with grid), and 1 electric car without V2G fonction.  I think that it will greatly depens on battery prices in the near future and political/strategical decisions from grid operators and governements.  Several variables...the future is never written in advance.

In real life for transportation, since 8 years I mostly use a lovely hybrid electric+human vehicule, photo below...
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: etienne on May 10, 2014, 02:56:41 PM
Hello,

I have two questions regarding humidity management.

The first one  about the humidity sealing of the house. I heard both therories, that humidity should be able to go through the walls to allow you to see if water finds a way in, or that the house should be totaly sealed because when humidity leaves the house on the outside walls, it uses the heat of the house to evaporate. I have always prefered the first option, but I would like to hear what other people think about it. If you choose the first option, you also have to select materials that support humidity for the house finish.

The second question is about the ventilation and humidity. My house is a traditionnal concrete house with an ouside insulation built in 1999. I have an Aldes both ways ventilation that's very basic but already with a heat exchanger. Excepted when the temperature is permanently under 5°C, I am very happy to get the humidity out of the house. I get so much humidity from cooking, drying clothes, taking showers... I need a humidification maybe 3 weeks a year, excepted this year that was soo warm that I didn't need it at all.

Best regards,

Etienne
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Jim Hunt on May 10, 2014, 03:06:45 PM
I'm not shure that V2G or V2H will be necessery, it seems complicated.

Some sort of (low cost!) distributed energy storage will be necessary, or so it seems to me at least. Surely having two battery packs is even more complicated than just having one?!

Quote
In real life for transportation, since 8 years I mostly use a lovely hybrid electric+human vehicule, photo below...

I largely rely on just human power! If I want to go long distances the UK EV infrastructure in this neck of the woods isn't up to the job as yet, unfortunately.

Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Bruce Steele on May 10, 2014, 04:23:21 PM
Yan, Your completed green living applications are truly inspiring. Gardens, electric bicycle, wood stove, solar electricity in amounts adequate to sell to the grid, multi-family habitation and even sharing your vision are, as a package ,as complete as anything I have ever seen. Kudos and something to strive for.  May there always be peace in your home. 
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: icefest on May 10, 2014, 06:30:42 PM
Jim I see your public transport even come with horns.. 

Personally, what I'm hopeful for is the combination of PV + storage for domestic use.  With wind taking up a significant amount of slack in winter (when it has a higher CF anyhow). By the time batteries are cost efficient solar panels should be cheap enough that most small to medium businesses will switch as they mainly use daytime electricity. I'm expecting most hydro to be used for load leveling. The grid will probably survive but I'm expecting major restructuring of the generation giants.
A misfortunate side effect is that this will probably result in either curtailment of energy production in times of high supply, or a development of a niche industry using the intermittent but cheap excess electricity. 
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: jai mitchell on May 10, 2014, 06:31:30 PM
When using a wood stove it is very important that the air intake to the fire comes from outside the house.  Or else you take the warm air from the room where the firebox is and send it up the chimney!

when I installed my external air source (drilled a hole through the floor) I reduced my wood consumption by 15% and raised my comfort levels significantly.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: yan on May 10, 2014, 07:45:52 PM
Bruce,
Thanks for your encouragements. In fact my "way of ecological" life today is very peacefull, easy and pleasant to live. It is my life 5 years ago that was very difficult to support ! (appartment in a big city, cars , road dangerous for bycicles, no garden, bad quality food, concrete everywhere, noise, urban life with superficial links ...).

Jim
About V2G, I don't think having 2 battery pack is complicated. The 2 packs will be clearly separated and will not work together: 1 for the car, 1 for the house. I rather think that industrial production will be simplified: car companys will produce hight volume, low cost EV. Electricity company will produce hight volume, low cost pack of inverters+battery for home equiped with solar pv.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: sidd on May 10, 2014, 09:36:50 PM
Re: intake air for fireplace.

I have a wood burning fireplace in the basement. Chimney design is very good, two steel tubes inside one another. Inner vents, outer for makeup air. I think the intent was to ensure that even if the basement were sealed off, intake air would be available to prevent CO poisoning. But it works great, preheats intake air as well. I have not seen this design elsewhere. The company that made the fireplace , Preway, is unfortunately out of business.

sidd
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on May 11, 2014, 08:49:19 AM
Hello,

I have two questions regarding humidity management.

The first one  about the humidity sealing of the house. I heard both therories, that humidity should be able to go through the walls to allow you to see if water finds a way in, or that the house should be totaly sealed because when humidity leaves the house on the outside walls, it uses the heat of the house to evaporate. I have always prefered the first option, but I would like to hear what other people think about it. If you choose the first option, you also have to select materials that support humidity for the house finish.

Hello and welcome, Etienne.

What I've learned with regards to humidity, is that exterior walls should let water vapour out of the house, but not in. And so from outside to inside materials should be less and less humidity conducive, with at the end a vapour barrier of some sorts.

In our case we have (from outside to inside):

2 cm lime plaster
2.5 cm wooden planks
30 cm wood beams and cellulose
2 cm OSB (that's the vapour barrier)
2 cm loam plaster

Quote
The second question is about the ventilation and humidity. My house is a traditionnal concrete house with an ouside insulation built in 1999. I have an Aldes both ways ventilation that's very basic but already with a heat exchanger. Excepted when the temperature is permanently under 5°C, I am very happy to get the humidity out of the house. I get so much humidity from cooking, drying clothes, taking showers... I need a humidification maybe 3 weeks a year, excepted this year that was soo warm that I didn't need it at all.

The only danger I see from heat recovering ventilation systems is that they take out moisture out of the house. I've seen passive houses in winter where humidity falls below 30%. This is very unhealthy.

Quote
When using a wood stove it is very important that the air intake to the fire comes from outside the house.  Or else you take the warm air from the room where the firebox is and send it up the chimney!

External air intake is an absolute must when you have a ventilation system (or you get problems with pressure). If your house is airtight, you also don't want your wood stove to take out all the oxygen in the room. This is something I really dislike when I'm in a room with a wood stove with no external air intake.

BTW, I've read about some research years ago that the electric bicycle was the mode of transport with the highest EROEI. Better than all-electric or all-human.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Andreas T on May 11, 2014, 01:22:53 PM
In rural southern Germany wood burning stoves are very common in new houses. My brother has the traditional brick and tile variety, you probably know Kachelofen in your part of Austria too, Neven. Usually there is a pot of water on top of the stove to avoid the air becoming too dry. Cold winter air coming into the house is very dry which ever way it gets in (sorry to state the obvious, we read enough about the arctic atmosphere here ;)).
Passive houses without a high temperature heat source would have to find other ways to add moisture (houseplants?). There are heat recovery systems I have read which also transfer water vapour from outgoing air to incoming air, but I expect that this gets too expensive for domestic systems.

Sorry if this is of topic here, but what is your experience with electric bike batteries, Yan? Is the amount of charge they can hold becoming less as they get older?
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: etienne on May 11, 2014, 09:15:24 PM
Hello,

Still about humidity management

This is the way I dry my clothes (https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fu.jimdo.com%2Fwww51%2Fo%2Fsd1cb7867a4db87c5%2Fimg%2Fi2c5738e84982a5ff%2F1399835497%2Fstd%2Fimage.jpg&hash=745b01c9b912870f67763b0c1be0d9ea).

5 kg of clothes brings more or less 2 kg of water (1550 t/min spinning).

I guess this is why I don't have too much dry air problems.

Best regards, thank you for the answer.

Etienne
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on May 11, 2014, 09:57:54 PM
Quote
There are heat recovery systems I have read which also transfer water vapour from outgoing air to incoming air, but I expect that this gets too expensive for domestic systems.

Yes, they're called Rotationswärmetauscher in German. Hoval, for instance, has ventilation systems on offer with these heat exchangers that also exchange water vapour. But we'll be using the more exotic Ökolüfter (http://www.oekoluefter.de/) (I've described it more thoroughly at the start of the thread).

Quote
In rural southern Germany wood burning stoves are very common in new houses. My brother has the traditional brick and tile variety, you probably know Kachelofen in your part of Austria too, Neven. Usually there is a pot of water on top of the stove to avoid the air becoming too dry.

Yes, those are awesome. We though about building a loam oven (also described earlier in this thread), but it would easily overheat our home. We're trying out the infrared heating panels, and if those aren't sufficient or satisfactory, we'll buy an air+water-heating wood stove.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: yan on May 11, 2014, 10:41:42 PM
Hello Etienne,

What is your heating system ? (I saw on your photo a traditionnal radiator, perhaps with gaz boiler system ?)

With a house made of "traditionnal" walls (concrete + polysterene ), humidity inside can't go trough the walls. So you will inevitably have sometime too much or or too few humidity (contrary to Neven's house or mine). What I see offenly when I visit houses of my customers is that heat or humidity regulators are not always easy to implement and consume electricity. And finally what seems to work the best is: open the window   ;)!

About electric bike and batterys:
My bike is a TwistLite Giant purchased in 2006. The original battery (panasonic 24V 9Ah NiMh) is 8 year old and is half his nominal capacity (45 km), but still working. I purchased a second new battery in 2012 (400 €) which is still 100% it's capacity. Globally my feeling is very positive with this "solution of transport". I estimate that my electric bike give me back 200 € / year because it is replacing my car (diesel) and very expensive parking tickets. But there are several another benefits: no trafic jam, no stress, "feeling" the nature/weather, good exercice (not too few, not too strong) for cardio-vascular...
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Jim Hunt on May 12, 2014, 02:10:20 AM
Hi Yan,

About V2G, I don't think having 2 battery pack is complicated. The 2 packs will be clearly separated and will not work together: 1 for the car, 1 for the house. I rather think that industrial production will be simplified: car companys will produce hight volume, low cost EV. Electricity company will produce hight volume, low cost pack of inverters+battery for home equiped with solar pv.

To save clogging up this thread further with "battery" related stuff I've just started a dedicated thread on the topic:

"Distributed Energy Storage (or S2H/S2G/V2H/V2G for short) (http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,858.0.html)"
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Laurent on August 11, 2014, 11:24:28 PM
Video of a builder in the wild. Pretty impressive with few tools.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d6GNZlwcj8#t=150 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2d6GNZlwcj8#t=150)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on September 24, 2014, 01:44:20 AM
The person who designed and installed my solar domestic hot water system a few years ago is now designing, building and selling zero carbon homes. In order to prove the design and get practice building it he's building one for his family home. They are blogging about it as they go and I figure people here would probably be interesting in seeing it.

http://www.ecogenbuild.ca/?page_id=2 (http://www.ecogenbuild.ca/?page_id=2)

The build progress posts are on the Recent Posts links in reverse order.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: GeoffBeacon on October 19, 2014, 05:37:37 PM
I'm arguing for separate developments for those that aim to have low carbon footprints:

Quote
In developed countries, new settlements damage the world. Building them brings materials from the world marketplace, causing destruction of nature and atmospheric pollution. The greenhouse gasses emitted by sourcing these materials cause the emission of large amount of greenhouse gasses.

The lifestyles of the residents in new developments are also damaging. Even if these newcomers wanted to live a world-friendly life-style, they would find it impossible because the other residents are mostly the affluent who live high-carbon lifestyles with a high level of car ownership. Consequently these developments do not have the facilities and organisation necessary for low-carbon lifestyles such as local shops and public transport.
http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/the-green-settlement-handbook/ (http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/the-green-settlement-handbook/)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Zythryn on October 19, 2014, 08:21:23 PM
While I see the benefits to an entire development built to be low carbon, I also think building in established neighborhoods has a place.

Humans are competitive animals.
With my current house, which is about 50% better than a "built to code" house, I talk with my neighbors about the small amount of energy we use.  This encourages others to improve their own energy use.

We are at the start of a project to build a net-zero house.  One of our goals is to use it to educate.  Show people that the house an look and act normal in every way, and not cost tons more to be a healthier, cheaper to maintain, more durable house.

We need the zero carbon build pioneers.
We also need to get the mainstream buyers thinking about using less energy.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: GeoffBeacon on October 21, 2014, 10:43:50 AM
Zythryn

Yes. Of course "building in established neighborhoods has a place" but will you be able to get you neighbours to

1. Give up their cars
2. Bring in public transport
3. Open local shops.
2. Create local jobs
3. Grow food locally.

These things are not easy in car owning suburbs but essential for a low-carbon lifestyle

Related link http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/a-parable-of-four-villages (http://www.brusselsblog.co.uk/a-parable-of-four-villages)/
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: mark on October 21, 2014, 06:55:46 PM
Neven - I am very envious of your project - at the moment I'm just trying to get my house watertight after being done over by a builder who was meant to have done the work!

Anyhow one thing I have always wanted to do is make my house thermally efficient and with that in mind I saw a coup[le of television programmes on specialist home builds - one had the whole garden underlaid with pipework at @1.5m depth and a heat recovery system that supplied the heat for the whole house in winter. But the one I liked most of all was the simplest - in order to keep the cost down of keeping the house warmer in winter and cooler in summer, the ventilation system drew its air from a large duct laid down the 50m of the entrance drive at a depth of 1.5m again where the temperature (if I rmember correctly) didnt stray much during the year from 8C this meant that the house could be kept cool in summer and any heating in the winter at least drew air in at @8C - which during the night and sub zero temperatures was a substantial energy saving. I wish I had kept a record of the programme!!

Sorry if this has already been mentioned - I read the first page of posts but then skipped to the last. But thought it may interest you
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on October 21, 2014, 09:08:37 PM
Anyhow one thing I have always wanted to do is make my house thermally efficient and with that in mind I saw a coup[le of television programmes on specialist home builds - one had the whole garden underlaid with pipework at @1.5m depth and a heat recovery system that supplied the heat for the whole house in winter.

My neighbours have that system and are very satisfied with it. Only downside is you can't plant any trees.

Quote
But the one I liked most of all was the simplest - in order to keep the cost down of keeping the house warmer in winter and cooler in summer, the ventilation system drew its air from a large duct laid down the 50m of the entrance drive at a depth of 1.5m again where the temperature (if I rmember correctly) didnt stray much during the year from 8C this meant that the house could be kept cool in summer and any heating in the winter at least drew air in at @8C - which during the night and sub zero temperatures was a substantial energy saving. I wish I had kept a record of the programme!!

Sorry if this has already been mentioned - I read the first page of posts but then skipped to the last. But thought it may interest you
[/quote]

I thought about doing this, pipes leading to the greenhouse, and the ventilation taking its air from the somewhat warmer than outside greenhouse, but this was too much wishful thinking. I might still do something with underground piping for the greenhouse.

But I'm such a slow builder that the greenhouse will probably be built 2 years from now.

I have now started building the kitchen, and still need to lay the oak floor after that, build that shower stall in the bathroom that is still bugging me, and then we'll finally have running water and can move in.

I'll post some images soon of the interior building I've done with wood and loam in the past couple of months. A lot of work, but I'm pleased with the result.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: mark on October 21, 2014, 11:55:57 PM
My house is 120 years old made of brick and still needs a lot of work - I too have flooring to lay and a kitchen to build so my sympathies are with you. Once finished I will sell it and then hopefully find a project where I can let loose my ideas!

I'll be 'lurking' (I seem to be good at that!) with interest.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: skanky on October 22, 2014, 10:27:39 AM
My house is 120 years old made of brick and still needs a lot of work - I too have flooring to lay and a kitchen to build so my sympathies are with you. Once finished I will sell it and then hopefully find a project where I can let loose my ideas!

I'll be 'lurking' (I seem to be good at that!) with interest.

There are people who will sink a pipe for a ground sourced heat pump straight down (assuming the ground type is okay) so you don't take up the whole garden. These systems are best suited to under floor heating though, so you'd want to rule it in or out before you do your floor.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Laurent on October 31, 2014, 09:24:32 PM
There is a guy on the blog that is looking for some infos for some heaters (rocket).

I found these videos, it is in French but you don't have to understand the language the film speaks for itself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCZSR3CFn8U (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCZSR3CFn8U)

It does sound a bit like a joke, Barnabé is melting aluminium with leafs :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTezJ1kdZ6U (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTezJ1kdZ6U)

 ;)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on December 24, 2014, 11:51:13 PM
I'll post some images soon of the interior building I've done with wood and loam in the past couple of months. A lot of work, but I'm pleased with the result.

A bit later than I wanted, but here are some images of the interior building with wood and loam. It really was a lot of work. My wife made all the insulation materials, mixing the loam with the wood shavings and a bit of water, while I made all the walls, covered them with lathes, and installed all the electric wiring etc.

It took us twice as much time as we initially thought (3 months instead of 6 weeks), but all in all it was worth it, as we have learned a lot, saved a lot of money and energy, did the whole interior building practically 100% environmentally friendly, and nothing beats the satisfaction of DIY.

Unfortunately we couldn't do the loam plaster ourselves, and this was quite horrible. So much moisture in the house, such an incredible mess, workers not caring about the details (it took my wife 3 weeks to get all of it fixed). But this too was cheap and unbeatable from an eco point of view.

So here are some of the pictures showing the process and end result:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/MEbc0B5s6g8Q5LHg6A9_mP0JW5MqYNh0F4FfATug21g=w500-h750-no)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-4CaFtMj6xCQ/U20xG62zAhI/AAAAAAAABqg/8ouobi_1vrg/w500-h750-no/tn_DSC05430.JPG)

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-ZqSt2AZbieU/U20xEAHBZzI/AAAAAAAABqY/CgjxOAygxfM/w500-h750-no/tn_DSC05514.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-wVAQmrANLGI/VE6tOW4RU7I/AAAAAAAAB8k/oJ_tXLvhSdQ/w500-h750-no/tn_DSC05508.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-iWslXov5PCo/VE6tGnXKuUI/AAAAAAAAB8Q/5LU_Eff4QHE/w500-h667-no/tn_DSC05672.JPG)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-QVOw9rpzI0Y/VE6tHNyG9CI/AAAAAAAAB8c/JSfnusouPXA/w500-h667-no/tn_DSC05703.JPG)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-0fplOIJYpbY/VE6tT_uZKXI/AAAAAAAAB84/j_6pYP7CLoI/w500-h375-no/tn_DSC05833.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ocfsRRnkb5A/VE6tUHaNBpI/AAAAAAAAB88/cPGHYfzgmNI/w500-h375-no/tn_DSC05843.JPG)

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-FYxAUB4AqZI/VE6tosvrqlI/AAAAAAAAB9E/Mer6hpAdw3U/w500-h667-no/tn_DSC06033.JPG)

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-o6uUKtDHufM/VE6tpyNoFoI/AAAAAAAAB9M/IWniUl95H_I/w500-h667-no/tn_DSC06037.JPG)

Here's some of the stuff we've done after that, putting in 2" high constructions for the oak floors, basically wooden posts with 1/2" hemp strips under them for sound insulation, infilled with a mix of sand and loam to get some more heat/cold retaining mass into the house:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-GSjvydLxHPk/VE6txG5cU6I/AAAAAAAAB9U/nyVrpvLYM-o/w500-h667-no/tn_DSC06138.JPG)

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-IMabKBffumE/VE6tyJyv69I/AAAAAAAAB9c/Y7ngcKqIYQw/w500-h667-no/tn_DSC06142.JPG)
 
(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/RBzdYJhPv6DdoRzK6gUYfoaAI0aPTdJZQ0x_wVIEml0=w500-h375-no)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-ChYKDCPK-eQ/VJtBj1Gw7OI/AAAAAAAACAA/Etv7D5ShKWo/w500-h667-no/tn_DSC06242.JPG)

We're now busy finishing the kitchen and the bathroom (I'll have more on that in a couple of weeks, the shower stall I wrote about earlier (https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,90.msg20853.html#msg20853), is going to be real interesting, different from what I had in mind initially, as that wasn't going to work), then we have to do around 500 square feet of oak floor, sand and oil all the floors, and then mid-January the plumber is coming to connect us to the water mains, and we should be able to move in before the end of the month.

I hope we'll make it. I have no (mental) energy left! As expected. :D
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on February 05, 2015, 10:13:34 PM
We're now busy finishing the kitchen and the bathroom (I'll have more on that in a couple of weeks, the shower stall I wrote about earlier (https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,90.msg20853.html#msg20853), is going to be real interesting, different from what I had in mind initially, as that wasn't going to work), then we have to do around 500 square feet of oak floor, sand and oil all the floors, and then mid-January the plumber is coming to connect us to the water mains, and we should be able to move in before the end of the month.

I hope we'll make it. I have no (mental) energy left! As expected. :D
OK, we made it!   :)

It was a nightmare with Murphy's Law doing its thing at every turn, but we managed to finish things enough to be able to move in, exhausted and all. Here's a couple of images with the oak floor installed and oiled:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-mSkE5QVvBXo/VNPKNY-BgBI/AAAAAAAACDI/UsahpbF1DcY/s500/tn_DSC06580.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-QGJOnkSs144/VNPKNSLHczI/AAAAAAAACC8/wH6OZa-96H8/s500/tn_DSC06597.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-gy7Za5_VIks/VNPKNgNKleI/AAAAAAAACDo/DjAbI5CiDwg/s500/tn_DSC06598.JPG)

(https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-00oVeVpYwNs/VNPKOBLASVI/AAAAAAAACDQ/znMgkSaAk38/s500/tn_DSC06600.JPG)

An interesting period starts now, as we're testing and tweaking all the new stuff, like the heat pump that heats our water, the rain water pump, the heating and most of all, the device I looked forward to most: the Ökolüfter decentral heat recovery ventilation system I described almost two years ago in this comment (http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,90.msg1337.html#msg1337) (tempus fugit).

Here are a couple of images, and my experiences so far below that:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-3pgmlHbRYbE/VNPKOvTlEwI/AAAAAAAACDs/Edy9Dh6ozns/s500/tn_DSC06614.JPG)

(https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-3Gyx-7XjA1o/VNPKPPWdPcI/AAAAAAAACDU/9tcEiTGdUk4/s500/tn_DSC06615.JPG)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-hAcdzCh2P0o/VNPKPnIcKSI/AAAAAAAACDw/nfcULgrxCMc/s500/tn_DSC06616.JPG)

Basically, the upper fan sucks in air from the house through a polyethylene membrane in the metal drum, and the lower fan presses fresh air through the same membrane. This sucking and pushing causes the drum to turn, and so the membrane takes up around 90% of the heat of the air leaving the house, the drum turns to the next fan and the membrane transfers this heat to the incoming air. Some humidity is transferred as well, so the house doesn't dry out (a big downside of heat recovery ventilation systems).

And it works! There is definitely enough fresh air coming in, even at the Ökolüfter's lowest position, which is around 80 m3/hr. Now, our house has a volume of around 225 m3, which amounts to an air change rate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_changes_per_hour) of 0.35. The inventor of the passive house, Dr. Feist, required an air change rate of 0.3-0.4, so we're already doing good.

Some say you should have an air exchange of at least 30 m3/h per person, a Swiss institute mentioned 22-36 m3/h per person, others say more. I just look at the Green Eye CO2 measuring device I bought a while ago:

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-IoTdOym6xqw/VNPLig-A1hI/AAAAAAAACD8/E2Zgtkw0ZNo/s500/tn_DSC06620.JPG)

With 80 m3/h (perhaps slightly lower) we have a total CO2 concentration that varies between 800 and 1100 ppm every day. Below 1000 ppm is 'normal' according to the Green Eye, above that is 'poor'. I'd like the concentration to be lower than 800 ppm (my brain needs oxygen for the translation work and blogging I do), but for that I'd need to increase the Ökolüfter's air exchange rate. The downside of that is that the device becomes a lot less quiet when turned up.

I'm very sensitive to these kinds of noises (the PC I built myself for instance is almost 100% passive, with the only moving part a big CPU fan that kicks in at a certain temperature) and so I'm happy with 80 m3/h for now. But I will try to reduce the noise level and have asked the manufacturer for advice.

If anyone would like to have more details on the installation process, just let me know.

The great thing about heat recovery ventilation systems is that you don't lose a lot of energy while letting fresh air into your home. During the first few days of living in our home we had to ventilate all the time by opening the windows, because the CO2 concentration was exceeding 2000 ppm, which is really unhealthy. This was a real PITA, and we also lost a lot of heat in the process. That's not so great as the outside temps are freezing at night and during some days as well.

This has been our view ever since we moved in last week:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-MIYBjcjhkb0/VNPKPxPsGOI/AAAAAAAACDk/6AOzT-efWV4/s500/tn_DSC06618.JPG)

Beautiful, but somewhat cold.  :)

However, thanks to the Ökolüfter and just two infra red heating panels with a total capacity of 1100 W, we manage to keep the temperature between 18 and 20 °C! That's really the result I was hoping for. It means that we'd need to heat the house with 1000-1500 W for 2 months at most, and that's it. Of course, this amounts to 12-18 kWh a day (and add to that what the heat pump needs to heat the 300 L water storage tank), which IMO is too much. Sure, we have 5.25 kWp of PV capacity, but it produces less than 5 kWh per day right now, which means this energy will have to be produced by coal.

We're going to see how things go for a while longer this winter (I'm hoping for some very low temps as a test), and then we'll have to decide before next winter whether we want to install the wood oven system (20% of the wood energy goes to heating the air, 80% to heating water using a water heat exchanger in the 300 L water storage tank) I wrote about here (http://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,90.msg1515.html#msg1515).

So, this is our building project so far. I hope to have the energy to set up a website/blog that describes the alternative building aspects of the project, with a lot of data, etc. It's amazing what one can accomplish on the eco/energy level for a reasonable price. Not easy, but doable. I hope it will prove to be a solid foundation for a healthy, sustainable lifestyle that inspires others.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: lisa on February 22, 2015, 08:28:54 PM
I have a new project.  I'm going to be starting the work on a aquaponics system next month. 

I live in a 1500 sqft 100-yr old bungalow in a blue-collar neighborhood of central Lansing, Michigan.  My yard is very small, but I have a guerrilla-garden in the empty lot across the street. 

I've been interested in aquaponics for a while.  I'm going to put the tank in my basement, against the back (south) wall, and feed the water lines up to the greenhouse that's on the south side of the house. 

I'll come back with pictures when I have them!
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Laurent on April 30, 2015, 12:47:40 PM
They are working on an interesting building...a castle !  ;D
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5IMeODLND8#t=250 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5IMeODLND8#t=250)
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: etienne on November 19, 2017, 02:55:38 PM
I'm also working on a project "EnergiewabenGR" that aims to define a local energy management model for renewable energy. The idea is to find ways to adapt consumption to production.

Since smart meters are not active yet, we are mainly working on a model, but what I wanted to talk about is a Smappee product (www.smappee.com) that we use to mesure the electricity load curve of buildings.

Data are provided by 5 minutes.

The systems also can mesure PV production if you have any, and can open electricity sockets when solar production is available.

It should be able to detect when different systems are on or off (refrigerator, washmachine...), but it takes some times to have it work properly and it's too early for me to give you any feed back on this.

There are other controls, but always with sockets like turning them on/off at a specific time, when the sun does up/down, when some system is on.

Bellow you'll find my consumption of yesterday. The highest peak is related to cooking, the second one to the  vacuum cleaner.

It also defines a base load.

I'm not sure that this will help me to save much energy, but it is interesting. I found the product very interesting and the price is ok (furthermore I didn't have have to pay for it).
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on November 21, 2017, 10:13:06 PM
That looks pretty cool, Etienne. I love measuring stuff.

How are the sockets opened/closed? Via radio or the power lines themselves?

I'll probably buy something like this in a year or so.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Jim Hunt on November 22, 2017, 02:30:44 PM
That looks pretty cool, Etienne. I love measuring stuff.

What is the state of play regarding "smart meter" rollout in Austria? Do you have one for example?

Same question for Etienne, in France I assume.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on November 22, 2017, 05:17:18 PM
Almost all of the province of Ontario, Canada has smart meters because time of use charges are the norm. My local distribution company analyses the current usage patterns to determine what classes of devices are consuming the electricity. This is possible even though none of the devices are "smart".

Here's mine for last month as an example:
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: etienne on November 22, 2017, 06:22:26 PM
How are the sockets opened/closed? Via radio or the power lines themselves?

For the communication with the sockets, I believe that it is radio controlled. 433.92 Mhz. Don't know how far that frequency can go. This is an issue for us because we try to limit electro-magnetic waves in the house.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: etienne on November 22, 2017, 06:24:49 PM

What is the state of play regarding "smart meter" rollout in Austria? Do you have one for example?

Same question for Etienne, in France I assume.

Well, I live in Luxembourg. Here we have a crazy situation because smart meters are being installed, but the communication infrastructure is not ready. So somebody came last week to my house to read the value on the smart meter to inform the utility company of my consumption.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: etienne on November 22, 2017, 06:30:49 PM
Almost all of the province of Ontario, Canada has smart meters because time of use charges are the norm. My local distribution company analyses the current usage patterns to determine what classes of devices are consuming the electricity. This is possible even though none of the devices are "smart".

Here's mine for last month as an example:

Do you feel that your appliances have been recognised correctly ? The Smappee tries it also, but this doesn’t work so well yet. Since the user manual says that it needs at least one month to have it right, I won’t discuss this too much yet.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: etienne on November 22, 2017, 06:32:39 PM
Electricity seems to be cheap in Ontario. In Luxembourg, I pay 0.15 EUR/kWh.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: ghoti on November 23, 2017, 01:45:08 AM
Electricity seems to be cheap in Ontario. In Luxembourg, I pay 0.15 EUR/kWh.
That's just the price for the electricity. The other charges on the monthly bill like delivery charges and taxes double the amount. That's Canadian dollars so still that's not very high.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Neven on November 23, 2017, 09:04:08 AM
I don't know how smart my meter is. I talk to it, but it never says anything back.  ;)

It looks pretty modern, but as with Etienne, once a year someone from the utility pays a visit, sticks a little gadget into the meter, and leaves with the data.

As for rollout in Austria, I have no idea.
Title: Re: Anyone here working on any interesting building projects?
Post by: Jim Hunt on November 23, 2017, 10:26:58 AM
I don't know how smart my meter is. I talk to it, but it never says anything back.  ;)

Mine shows me pretty pictures! More over on the PV + battery (+ EV!) thread:

https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,2162.msg134625.html