SUSTAINABLE BUILDING SOLUTIONS
Our New Green Home Office In Oneonta, NY
We are currently converting a garage in Oneonta, NY to a new attached home office with a green office building plan. To inspire others I thought I would outline some of our going-green construction and new sustainable building designs we’re putting into effect on a low budget.
Inspired By “The Greening of Southie”
I learned last night while watching the movie, The Greening of Southie, that because heating and electrifying our homes is so vital, about 40% of carbon emissions and other environmental impacts involve how we build our homes, offices and factories. Thus our habits of the past must change or the trend towards global warming and other impacts will force the choice. In the process using green and sustainable building material lists, this is quite vital in our overall green construction process. Living under the shadow of a deteriorating environment, it behooves us to create ever better and more effectively sustainable facilities. Below is a short list of some of the more sustainable building techniques and approaches we’ve been using to create our Oneonta green office:
SHORT LIST OF GREEN CONSTRUCTION APPROACHES
A) HEAT ENERGY EFFICIENCY
– Solar radiant heat – We poured a cement floor with radiant heat tubes that will be connected in time to a solar hot water heating system on the roof.
- Passive Solar Building- We have more skylights on the south side of the building to let in more warmth from the sun.
– Tile Flooring- This will further absorb and maintain heat though out our green sustainable building.
– Extra insulation – The walls were built with 2×8 so that we could add extra insulation, about 30R. Another 14.4 R is planned with a 2 inch faced hardboard under the siding. The cathedral roof will have R38 insulation installed plus again the 2″ hardboard. This adds to 52R. In addition, there is a considerable air space via the use of trusses in the building the roof, and this adds another approximately 1R per inch of air space.
– Highest Efficiency Windows - We are using Pella low-E windows because they have a far above average energy rating. We can add additional glass layers using clear caulk to install them. We do that often when adding stained glass to an existing window. The stained glass works well as it does not usually show any moisture buildup between the caulked together panes.
– Metal Roof – This is designed to hold more heat in and qualifies thus for a federal energy tax credit.
– Cathedral Ceiling Fan – To circulate the captured air, a ceiling fan is going in at the peak and a smaller fan in the bathroom. Hopefully all of this will avoid any backup heating system kicking even during the middle of the winter.
The lighting will all be fluorescent and the office, which is only 16×24, will have seven skylights to avoid any use of artificial lighting during the day.
C) WATER USE
Our bathroom with have a composting toilet and a low water-use shower head. We are going to find a way to recycle the roof’s water runoff into some irrigation for the surrounding plants.
D) CHOICE OF MATERIALS AND CONTRACTORS
Whenever possible, we have used local materials and contractors to avoid the impact of transportation on our environment. This includes our solar installation contractor who is a part of our community. We do not have “green woods” such as quick growing bamboo from China nor hardwoods from certified sustainable forests in Bolivia because the overall cost and negative impact of transportation is too great. Using all cement floors and roof trusses, I believe, saves on the amount of lumber needed in the total green construction project.
E) RECYCLED BUILDING SCRAPS
The scrap wood from our eco building will be used in a fireplace to our electric contractor’s home.
F) INSPIRING GREEN DESIGNS
We are planning wood, tile and stained glass mosaics designs to help feed the spirit of the place. This includes installing three octagon windows to contain stained glass.
G) AIR QUALITY
There are absolutely no paints, chemical solvents, petro-based stains or glues used in the interior construction. The walls are all 1×6 natural pine tongue and groove and that will be kept protected only by using non-toxic natural oils. When you walk in, you can thus immediately smell the refreshing odor of raw wood. What a HUGE difference this makes for the resulting air quality. We will take care to have furniture that also is not made with toxic glues, paints and solvents. The exterior will have some synthetic siding, but this is to avoid the periodic use of toxic paints every few years to maintain the place. We will have printers in the office, which tend to let out lots of toxic emissions into the air so we will have to plan some quiet air filters as we go along.
H) ORGANIC EDIBLE LANDSCAPING
There is nothing worse than putting a mono-crop lawn all around one’s home, and worse with bio-engineered grass seeds from Scotts, a major partner of Monsanto. These tend to be maintained using toxic chemicals that kill all of surrounding life and cause cancer. Our vision, instead, is to have surrounding organic and edible gardens with raised beds, and which attract all manner of living critters – including song birds, beautiful butterflies – and not to mention deer, squirrels, chip monks, rabbits, and so on. We want to create Eden all around us.
I) RECYCLING SYSTEMS
We compost all of our kitchen wastes and recycle any of our plastic, glass, cardboard and paper products.
IT’S SIMPLE AND EASY
Building a green home or office is not very complicated if we don’t make it so. The same applies to green remodeling. Environmental homes, being energy efficient buildings, are also inexpensive in the long run. Anyone can put into practice more sustainable building construction. It takes a little will and a lot of vision to make an eco-friendly building into a reality. Environmentally-friendly building is the wave of the future, and we might as well get on board.