Green & Sustainable Timber Homes
The principles we follow to create a green, sustainably constructed home may be applied equally to either traditional timber frames
or modern designs, so the decision to 'go green' does not constrain your design style. It's not always easy to tell what is the
'best' green system overall, because many 'natural' materials have hidden economic and environmental tradeoffs which we
will help you evaluate.
The principles we follow and advise our clients on are:
- a) Build as small a home as you can for the lifestyle you plan to have. There is more 'green-ness' in using less resources than in any
amount of saving energy, sustainable use and recycling. We're not saying you have to live like a monk, but we advise efficient layouts,
multipurpose rooms and a realistic assessment of the space you actually need. (72% of people recently surveyed would rather have a greener
home than a larger one.)
- b) As much as possible, use components that are pre-fabricated off-site to reduce onsite waste during construction. It's easier to
reuse and recycle specialty materials at the source than from scattered job sites.
- c) Use the most energy-efficient wall and roof system you can afford. Although the best enclosure systems may use some fossil-fuel-derived
materials, their life-cycle energy savings far outweighs their manufacturing carbon footprint.
- d) Choose your materials wisely. Many 'natural, recycled' building materials are less energy efficient, and may actually have
negative enviromental impacts if their production is scaled beyond utilization of available by-products: the product starts directly
consuming raw materials (e.g. soy-based wall insulation products and bamboo flooring).
- e) Decide on major systems early in the design process. Get clarity on such questions as what kind of heating and ventilation system
will be used, whether solar panels will be used now or in the future, and whether a green roof system is appropriate. These systems all
have to work together, and have to be supported by the orientation, interior layout, and structural characteristics of the building. For
green construction, the specific features of the site are crucial in determining what can and can't be done, realistically. It's
wise not to get too attached to a specific approach before going through the design process.
- f) Recognize that recycled and reclaimed materials are likely to be MORE expensive, not less expensive, than 'new' materials.
New materials are produced in volume by assembly-line processes, whereas reused and recycled materials always require more specialized
one-off handling and labor. The only way to save money by reusing materials is if you also do all the work yourself, essentially 'for
free'. And the old materials may be contaminated with lead paint, creosote, mold and other unpleasant stuff. When we source reclaimed
items, we are careful to select materials that are safe to reuse.
- g) Arrow-wood Homes offers clients the option to apply for LEED and/or NAHB Green certifications. This costs extra, because the process
requires extensive accounting, reporting and independent third-party monitoring and inspection. Our homes are all designed in such a way
that these certifications may be easily achieved, but it is up to our clients to decide if they want to pay the cost of validation and
find out the 'score'.
- h) We recommend various specific products, manufacturers and building systems depending on the location and design of your project.
We'd be happy to tell you about some of the companies we work with during our initial consultation.
For the best in thoughtful, ecologically-sound design and fabrication,
Contact Us for a consultation.