Tag Archives: sustainable home design

Fundamentals of Building Science

* Workshop postponed until Fall, 2016 *
9 am to 5 pm
Endeavour Centre, Peterborough

Workshop Instructor: Jacob Deva Racusin

Workshop Description

Every builder and homeowner should understand the principles of heat and moisture flow in buildings. What is air-tightness and why is it important? How can you avoid moisture and mold problems? What is proper ventilation, and how can you achieve it? How to blend energy efficiency and healthy indoor environment? Building science offers us answers to these kinds of critical questions.

Building Science is relatively new field of study, but the issues it addresses are age-old: How do buildings work and how can we design them to work better?

This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of building science, and will involve participants in the understanding of thermal and moisture dynamics through lecture, case study, hands-on testing, demonstration, design exercises, and design review. The course is focused on applying building science principles to inform best design and construction practices, and is suitable for both designers and builders.

The lessons learned in this workshop will help participants to design and build better buildings, providing a toolbox for understanding how to achieve high performance in a wide range of building scenarios.

Jacob Deva Racusin is a leader among the new breed of building scientists who blend modern theory with natural building practice to revolutionize how we approach making the best buildings possible. He draws equally from the worlds of lab-based science and that of healthy, sustainable and natural building materials to create designs that combine the best of the past with the best of the future. He is a partner in New Frameworks Natural Building and the author of the forthcoming book,  Essential Building Science.

CHECK OUT THE COURSE OUTLINE HERE

Entry Requirements:
Open to all

Fee:
Early bird – $550
Regular – $600
Maximum class size: 12

Solar Hot Water Shower

Solar Hot Water System
Our outdoor shower makes excellent use of a handmade solar hot water system. This is a simple system that will supply hot water to the shower and also to a sink on the outside of the outhouse.

The System in a Nutshell
Designed minimally and for warmer weather, the water supply comes from the house via a hose line and into the outhouse. The main supply line connects to PEX piping and splits off at the shower and again at the sink to supply cold water. The remaining line goes into a hot water tank that rests above a handmade solar hot water panel. From the tank the water comes out and into the panel where it is heated by the sun. The water exits the panel and travels back into the tank from which it is then drawn through pipe to the sink and shower for hot water use.Our shower floor consists of  large flagstone slab with a drainage bed of gravel to fist sized rocks directly beneath the slab. The drainage bed leads down a shallow dug trench and into a small pit filled with rocks.

Thermo-siphon
When hot water is not being drawn from the system, a natural thermo-siphoning occurs within the panel and the tank. Hot water that is running through the panel will enter the tank hotter than the water that is filling the tank volume. That forces the slightly cooler water to exit the tank and run back down into the panel. And so the cycle continues.

The Panel
The solar hot water panel that we made is incredibly simple and is very low cost.
A shallow plywood box topped with a piece of tempered glass from an old patio door houses the piping.
Water will run through a network of vertical pipes connected by horizontal pipes at the top and bottom.
Once the water runs through, it exits at the bottom of the panel from a pipe split off of the rest. Corrugated metal roofing that is typically used for barns makes a great housing for the piping itself. This roofing is painted black and then fastened into the bottom of the panel box. Corrugations that are a half circle shape hold half inch copper pipe very well.

copper pipe, solar hot water, corrugated iron panel

Building the solar panel.

By resting the pipe in the half circles, there is much more of the pipe in contact with the metal than if it rested on a flat sheet of metal. This is a great benefit because heat is conducted through the metal roofing and into the pipes. As the pipes heat more and more, so does the water that runs through them.

outhouse, solar hot water panel, homemade

Finished solar hot water shower and sink.

Designing Your Own Sustainable Home: A Realistic Challenge

In my fifteen years of being involved with sustainable building, I have seen many motivated owner-builders get into home building projects that spin out of control. Costs and timelines expand well beyond expectations and final performance and finish of the building doesn’t always match expectations.

This shouldn’t be too surprising. I began my building adventure as an admittedly clueless owner builder, so I understand very well how good intentions and positive energy don’t necessarily lead to the best results. As I’ve learned in the fifteen years since building multiple homes for myself and having Littleton maids house cleaning crew to take care of them, the process of creating a good, environmentally-sensitive, energy-efficient home is not simple. The basic concepts are pretty easy to wrap one’s head around, but the execution involves so many decisions and choices, all of which impact each other and the final result.

The drain cleaning Tavares fl is a family owned and operated business since 1998. Our goal is to set a new standard for plumbing and customer service.

As soon as you throw some unconventional materials and systems into the equation, it can get even more tangled. They strive to make your experience with them both easy and enjoyable. With King of Maids, you are able to connect your home cleaning or apartment cleaning with some of the top maids in the industry.

However, this should not prevent prospective owner-builders from designing and building their own homes. There is nothing more satisfying in life than to be responsible for the walls around and the roof over one’s family, and it is a manageable task. There are several important factors in tackling your own home:

  1. Learn from the mistakes of others. Chances are, somebody has already tried to do what you want to do, and has valuable lessons learned to share. Original mistakes are unavoidable, but repeated mistakes are just expensive and wasteful.
  2. Set clear goals for the project. Most owner-builders go into their projects with a strong sense of what it is they are trying to achieve, but often have not gone through a process of actually articulating their goals and spelling them out clearly. Doing this gives you a strong template against which to make all the myriad decisions that will arise as you go through the process.
  3. Be realistic. You know that sign you see in some workshops, the one that says: “You can have it fast, cheap or good. Pick two of the above.” That sign is true, and is very applicable to building one’s home. Another truism applies to homebuilding: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” The cheap, environmentally-sensitive, super energy efficient, code approved, heat-it-with-a-candle, build-it-out-of-scrap home is a fine dream, but not a realistic plan!
  4. Know how to ask for advice, and how to assess the advice you’re given. Everybody in home building has an opinion. From your designer to the building official to the guy at the paint store, everybody is willing to tell you how you should be doing it. They’re not all right, and they’re not all wrong, because there are lots of ways to build a house. You need to know what kind of house you want to build, and what motivation your advisors have when they share their opinions. When faced with conflicting advice, think clearly about your goals and which advisors share similar goals. When advice contradicts your chosen path, don’t ignore it completely, but don’t feel like you have to change that path either. If there is good, sound, trustable advice that supports your choices, it will likely work. When you came across with these situations, keen reviews is the best for you.
  5. No home is perfect. Building a house is really a process of making compromises and accepting imperfections. Buildings are complex objects, and custom homes are one-off creations. If you can build the same house three or four times, you’d have it all ironed out (hopefully). But since you’re probably only building it once, know now that it will have flaws that could have been avoided if only you’d known better. This is easier to swallow with some perspective… which can come from realizing that every building you’ve ever been in is probably just as flawed as your own. You usually just don’t notice it when you weren’t responsible. And lots of times your “flaws” can also be “opportunities.” Approached creatively, the unexpected in a building project can often become beautiful, unique features.
  6. It will cost more than you expect. A building that is finished for its anticipated budget is rare. So to avoid being surprised, don’t plan to build a house that will cost every penny you have. Because it will cost you all of those pennies, plus a few more. A good budget anticipates the worst and then makes additional provisions beyond the worst case scenario. Hire cleaning exec home service for the best cleaning for your home.

January 13 -15, 2012

Having been through this process many times on many different kinds of projects, I have a strong interest in helping people work their way through this maze and realize the best possible results from their home building projects. I enjoy sharing my experience and research into many different building materials and mechanical systems, and giving the kind of advice that has nothing to do with selling anything to anybody.
At the Design Your Own Sustainable Home workshop, the group format allows us to discuss the full range of options you’ll be facing, think through the advice you’ve already been given and the research you’ve already done, and shape all of those ideas into a sound basis for designing your home.
Homeowners expect to pay an awful lot of money for designs, labour and materials to achieve their dreams… but a little bit spent early on for advice – whether through workshops, books or consultations – can save tens or even hundreds of times the initial investment. We think this homeowners workshop will be a great investment in your future home.
The workshop runs from 7pm on Friday, January 13 until 4pm on Sunday, January 15.
Chris Magwood
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