The last few days has been all about the new house and the final planning decisions necessary to send off our ideas for the production of the blueprints needed for the builder and regulatory authorities. As we consider all the options possible on our new house the idea of 'being green' comes up often. I never thought I would see the day I would think so much about these things but attitudes are changing - even at our house.
We are looking at the green aspects from a comfort, practical, and cost stand point - both long term and short term. It definitely costs more to build green but with the high cost of energy and it's undoubtable increase in the future there are a lot of things we can do that will make perfect sense.
The new house (like our shop) will be built using an FRC system. Specially designed hollow blocks of styrofoam are stacked like lego with plenty of rebar carefully placed inside. (We used two miles of steel and two hundred cubic yards of concrete in our shop.) Once the foam blocks and steel are in place the inside cavity is filled with concrete. The insulation and air tightness of the structure is twice that of a conventionally framed building. This makes the building extremely efficient and quiet. Other measures are used throught the construction to continue this practice.
The large windows of the house will be oriented southwards capturing the solar energy of the sun. South (away from the busy road) also happens to have spectactular views which we enjoy. The large thermal mass of the walls and concrete floor will moderate outside temperature extremes on both ends of the scale.
We will incorporate a hot water on demand system using high efficiency heaters for both heating and domestic water use. The resulting energy savings of everything combined could amount to up to 70% over a conventional house, meaning our extra costs incurred during construction will be offset in a hurry. A much quieter and more comfortable house is also added benefits.
We will of course wrap all this green stuff in a decroative and fun envelope. Being green does not mean we have to be ultra modern or plain. We can build the ultimate house that suits our practical and inner (child) needs as well.
Perhaps tomorrow I will do some real work that pays off in the short term.