Tag Archives: green building

LED Lighting

LED bulb in standard light fixture

I bought my first LED bulb for the house, at a sustainable energy fair , for $40.00 which is comparable to online prices.  It’s a 6W bulb that gives the equivalent light to a 50W incandescent.  These bulbs are rated for something like 60,000 hours, should last me a while…  This particular light gets turned on a lot, since its in a corner over the dining table where the only window is heavily blocked by trees  (the one area in the house not well lit with daylight).  Also my wife often complained that the previous lamp was too bright and felt like an operating theater, so its the perfect place to try it out.   The payback will be… at 16c a kWh…   actually only about 4 years which is not too bad.

On the left, the lit lamp shows a few of the individual LED bulbs glowing.  On the right, unlit, it is much like a conventional incandescent bulb


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Small Houses – Oldest House, Newest House

Too small for Building Inspectiion

In North Carolina recently, I saw examples of a house that is too small to come under the building code.   Any house smaller than 12′ x 12′ in plan (I do not know anything about the height..) does not have to conform to the building codes.  So an enterprising designer at Earthaven Ecovillage is producing these 11.5’x 11.5′ little cabins, with sleeping loft and full range of dwelling functions.  Sign of the times / sign of the future?

Meanwhile the remains of an incredibly old residence have been found.  Guess what – it was the same size….

LONDON – Archaeologists have uncovered the site of Britain’s oldest house, the waterside home of nomad hunters dating back about 11,000 years.

The dwelling, which has lake views, a thatched roof and very original features, predates the country’s famous Stonehenge monument by around 6,000 years and was built at a time when Britain was still connected to continental Europe.

Teams from the University of York and the University of Manchester working at the site believe the circular shaped home was built in about 8,500 B.C. next to an ancient lake at Star Carr, near Scarborough, in northeastern England.

Discoveries made at the site suggest the house was about 3.5 meters wide (11 feet, 6 inches), constructed of timber posts and likely had a roof of thatched reeds. The site was probably inhabited for between 200 and 500 years, and there were possibly several homes built at the site.

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Earth Tube Ventilation

Installed a second heat recovery ventilator, to exhaust air and provide fresh at my office.  Diazo blueprints, which I work from, can be smelly and I need the extra ventilation.  The ventilator unit will take some of the heat from the air that is being exhausted tio the outside, and warm the incoming air so that it is not so frigid.  In the Summer it will do the reverse, of course, saving some of the coolness from the airconditioning.  To helpt that process along I am bringing in the air via a pipe buried in the ground and coming in through the basement wall.  Unlike the main energy recovery unit which is in the attic, having this one in the basement under my office makes it easy to have the earth tube.  It is not a very long tube, but it should have some effect in tempering the air.

Earth tube - to cool the air

Earth tube - to cool the air

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Starting Out

Let’s start by saying who I am – no, wait, more importantly what this blog is supposed to be about – not me, but green building. And in particular, the house I have built and now occupy in Media, PA – which is near Philadelphia.  This house was built as part of the LEED for Homes Pilot program.  That is a way of certifying that a house has what it takes to be considered “green” in the eyes of, well, some self appointed greenies, you might say.  Quite an influential group of green builders, the US Green Building Council.  They have been certifying commercial buildings for several years, awarding points for various aspects of the design and guaranteeing some degree of increased sustainability;  but trying to do the same for residential construction in the US is relatively new.

Anyway, we wanted to build a new, environmentally conscious, affordable new house.  Going with the program gives me more impetus to do things well, and maybe some kind of verification.  Hmm sounds like lack of  confidence in the product.  Well I did not yet get the rating or certification, but it is definitely a Green house, and I want to discuss some of the details that help to make it that way.

This blog is NOT about the theory of environmentalism, or about global warming, or a feel good exercise for myself or my readers.  It is predominantly about the whys and why-nots, the how-tos and the occasional bloopers or misconceptions of green building.  Based on my experience with this house and other bits of gleaned wisdom. 

The siteThis is the site, before we started in on the path of creative destruction

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