Read the article here. One of the highlights is you’ll find pictures of the illusive Jeff Buscher doing things like faking reading a newspaper. For these and other priceless shots, go to “Related Links” and click on “Home of the week: Buscher”.
Thanks to everyone who has pushed me for an update on the carbon neutral prototype house project. I’ve had my hands full and blogging just hasn’t risen to the top of the list. Stay tuned because I have six months of great research results on a number of fronts including compressed earth block floors and walls, site made earthplasters, and a simple purchased clay and sand earth plaster.
What everyone asks first, however, is “when are you gonna be done”? Let’s put that baby to bed once and for all: we’re done. We’ve received our Certificate of Occupancy from the city and are jumping through a few hoops for the bank (don’t get me started, gawd!). Our test family, Jeff/Jeanine/Jackson (JJJ), are moving in upstairs next week. We’re looking for someone to live in the downstairs apartment, and the Nauhaus think tank/office/lab will be moved to the downstairs office.
So from a real estate, taxes, and bank perspective, we’re done. However, the point of this research project wasn’t just to build a house, but to create a living lab and opportunity for study, so there is still lots of work that we’ll do. High on the list will be to complete the final blower door test to see if we will receive Passive House certification. In the next month or two, we’ll be completing a collaboration with Tom Rioux of Earthpaint to test a number of finish solutions for the earthen materials in the building. This is exciting work because in the end we’ll be able to specify commericially available products from Earthpaint to finish and seal compressed earth blocks and earthen plasters.
If you want to help us with our ongoing research, we still need support to realize our:
Exterior and interior plastering is underway on the carbon neutral Nauhaus prototype.
The interior surface of the hempcrete walls has a base coat of earthen plaster consisting of sub-soil harvested from the construction site and mixed with sand and water. The mix was chosen after testing sixteen different compositions, a process spearheaded by intern Shannon Levenson. Earth plaster serves the Nauhaus prototype mission because it requires almost no energy to make or transport, and therefore has very little carbon emissions associated with it. In addition, earth plastering is fairly easy to learn, requires few tools, and is instantly gratifying, both because it’s beautiful at any skill level and very similar to playing with mud pies, a therapeutic experience that many adults realize they have been neglecting for too long. Whatever the reason, the earth plastering process attracted volunteers and interns like flies to…well, compost.
The exterior wall surface has been covered with a base coat of lime-based plaster supplied by Lime Technology as part of the hempcrete wall system. Both interior and exterior plasters were applied directly to the hempcrete which proved to be an excellent plaster substrate. Fiberglass mesh, similar to mesh drywall tape, were embedded in plaster over any joints or cracks in the hempcrete. Together these plasters over hempcrete create a vapor permeable wall system, sometimes called a “breathable wall”. The idea is to create a wall that is open to taking on and giving off water vapor in response to humidity levels in the air inside or outside the building.
“We believe vapor permeable walls will last much longer and help create better indoor air quality than cavity wall systems that dominate US residential construction,” says Clarke Snell of the Nauhaus Institute. “As any builder will tell you, it’s pretty much impossible to keep water out of walls. Permeable walls are designed with the idea that it’s okay if some water gets in as long as it can get out just as easily and won’t cause any damage in the process.”
The Nauhaus Prototype project hit a milestone this month with the installation of doors and windows form Serious Materials. The project hasbeen designed to reach the Passive House Standard and therefore requires extremely high performance windows.
Though a number of German companies make windows in this category, Serious Materials is the only US company that can meet the required specs. All window and door units on the project have fiberglass frames and quadruple pane glazing. Southern glazing has a center of glass insulation value of R-7 with an impressive solar heat gain coefficient (the percentage of solar heat that passes through the glass, 1.o would be 100%) of about 0.7. This allows for heat gain from the low southern winter sun, a strategy integral to the Passive House integrated design system.
North, east, and west glazings weigh in at an amazing center of glass rating of R-11, a rating equal to the fiberglass insulation in some conventional stick frame walls! This is compared to R-2 for a typical double pane window found on most US projects. Unlike the heavier European windows, Serious reaches this performance level with two pieces of glass and two pieces of plastic allowing for a thinner profile more like conventional windows typically available in the US.
“In a Passive House in our climate region, walls need to be about R-40. You just can’t stick an R-2 hole in an R-40 wall,” says Clarke Snell of the Nauhaus Institute. “The idea is to spend money on passive elements, extra insulation and really good windows for example, that don’t require energy inputs to do their job once installed, unlike heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment. In the right configuration, these passive elements combine to allow for a much simpler and less expensive mechanical system, thus saving money in construction and afterwards with much lower energy bills.”
.…okay, not really a press release, just a feed from our blog. Hey, we’re a small, busy, underfunded R&D organization. What do you want from us?
Jen, who has been doing these construction updates, decided to go back to school for some reason….she had some lame excuse about needing to make money to buy food or something… whatevs!
Anyway, we’re behind on the blogging and I surely don’t have time to bring things up to date right this minute. The quick synopsis is that the hempcrete installation is complete (yeah, baby!) and we’re moving into “Phase II” of the build in which the design team will be on site a lot more working with interns. Right now we have four great interns, Christopher, Shannon, Francoise, and Bertrand. (Fun fact: F&B rode their bikes from Montreal by way of Florida and Texas!? Those crazy Canucks.)
Here are a few picks. I hope to get more up soon….or convince Jen to quit school.
Here’s a rockin’ ad for the Nauhaus prototype put together by our own Jennifer Bennett.
If you’re interested in volunteering for the Nauhaus Prototype Project, please contact Billy.
Press Release: Crazy Winter Makes Hemcrete Installation Interesting, Serious Materials Windows ArriveDecember 31st, 2009 by mandible
The big blizzard of ’09 temporarily put the kibosh on construction, but we’re back up and running. The Hemcrete forms have come off of the first floor, Serious Materials windows have arrived, and the roof is moving forward, with horse drawn, local, sustainably harvested hemlock fascia boards from Mountain Works installed this week.
If you’re interested in volunteering for the Nauhaus Prototype Project, please contact Billy.
Asheville, NC–The Nauhaus Institute (NHI) is scheduled to begin the installation of its revolutionary hemcrete walls on its prototype research home this Wednesday December 2nd. Because a small part of the wall system was installed as a demonstration on November 12th, the prototype home is already the first of its kind in the US. The material, called Tradical® Hemcrete®, is made from waste hemp shiv and a lime-based binder. Designers from NHI have opted to pursue Passive House certification which would make the house not only one of the fist ten certified in the US but also the first Passive House hemp home in the world.
“This is going to be a really significant project on a global scale,” said Ian Pritchett, the Chairman and Technical Director of Lime Technologies who manufactures Hemcrete®. Pritchett flew in from the United Kingdom to mark the event. (see the full interview here – Youtube).
Designers of the home say that the new material will not only create breathable, long-lasting walls but also give the home an insulation performance of three times what building code requires. The material can be mixed and poured in to forms in a similar fashion to concrete.
“We’re essentially building with a bio-composite made from agricultural waste and a recyclable binder,” said Tim Callahan, Architectural Designer for NHI. “The lime binder itself has been used as a building material for thousands of years.”
The construction project has already raised eyebrows nationally in the green building world. “It’s going to be off the scale for LEED points,” said Pritchett. “This is a very big deal.” LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” and is the dominant rating system for environmentally sustainable construction. And it doesn’t stop there; the NHI team is projecting that the house will break records in nearly every quantifiable sustainability standard by which homes are measured.
“We sought out this home because it’s had a reputation as a historic project,” said Matt Schillig, owner of WNC ProBuilt. Schillig is installing the Hemcrete®, framing and Eco-Panels roofing on the prototype home.
The Nauhaus Institute is the research, education, and information-generating branch of the Nauhaus family of organizations based in Asheville, NC. The goal of NHI is to merge the best of modern high tech building science with the core principles of the “natural” and “green” building movements.
There’s been a lot of the “sexier” components being put together in the Nauhaus Prototype as of late. Ian Pritchett of Lime Technology flew in from the UK to oversee the installation of the first Tradical® Hemcrete® wall on a home in the US and what he says will be the first Passive Hemcrete® home in the world. Ian and his US partner Mario Machnicki trained Asheville builder extraordinaire Matt Schillig of WNC ProBuilt in Hemcrete® installation.
At about the same time, we’ve had Mark Prudowski of Lightning Bug Electric (more info here) finishing up the electric on the prototype home. Mark and his team, including a graduate from Asheville GO (the awesome non-profit we mentioned in our previous post), fitted the home with “smurf tubing,” ideal for wiring through bio-cretes and other cellulose-based walls. The design will allow for Read the rest of this entry »
The Asheville Green Opportunities (Asheville GO) Training Program came down to the site today to learn about the project and get their hands dirty with a work day. Managing Director Clarke Snell toured the team around the prototype site while Mike Figura toured them around Gaia, our sister urban ecovillage project, just across the creek. The rest of the day was spent building scaffolding to erect the roof structure and a box to help weigh waste material for LEED certification. See pictures after the break.