Infiltrating a rain garden
Achieving the 7.5 CFM Per Occupant Balanced Venting Standard
Pole Barn Outbuildings
We've been using tankless propane water heaters for years now and they have improved
the designs to the point that it's all we install these days but there are a few misconceptions about
them and some limitations as well as some opportunities that need to be considered.
Read more... | Our most current Solar-Radiant-DHW design principles
One inexpensive and delightful way to add interest to your landscape while helping the environment and scoring
green building points is to add a rain garden to your landscape plans. This is an on-site storm water retention
system that collects and stores the water from your roof and other impervious surfaces and uses it to create
an artificial wetland. This is not a pond, and if properly established and maintained it will not breed mosquitoes
but will look like a little wetland area in your yard with tall marsh grasses and sedges, perhaps some cat-tails
and other water tolerant plantings. It will attract wildlife and provide visual relief in dry times as well as
the rest of the year.
We've been building high performance homes since 1977. We used to call them solar homes and back in the old days we didn't
give any consideration to indoor air quality or excessive humidity in our homes. We joined the energy star program a
few years back and started realizing just how air tight our homes really are. Eventually we started measuring our homes using
the NAHB’s Model Green Home Guidelines and realized we needed to provide 7.5 cubic feet per minute of filtered fresh
outdoor air per occupant to keep our homes from being too air tight. At first glance that seemed arbitrary and incomprehensible but
the trick, as with most of these things, is just to drag out the calculator and do the numbers.
Pole Barn structures solve a number of building problems in a resource- and cost-effective as well as aesthetically pleasing way. One of the pitfalls of designing smaller, more energy efficient and space efficient homes is that there is less space for "stuff." Our solution has been to build economical, un-heated or occasionally conditioned pole barn outbuildings. These structures are intended to extend the size of the living space without increasing the amount of space that is heated and cooled 360 days a year.
Pole Barn Designs | Pole Barn Construction Details
Many of the homes we build are "accessible" homes designed for retiring couples who want to think ahead
to enhance visitability for physically handicapped friends. We have found that above counter sinks and the
Porcher Semi-Encastre sink that protrudes from the front of the countertop give the best potential to
have a kneehole under the sink.
Our house is small at 1607 sf and we had a fairly
large footprint scheduled for a dry stack stone fireplace
with a gas range pushed up against the back of the
firebox. However our NC building code was going to
require a major fire-break between the masonry firebox
and the gas range which threatened to push the range
too far out into our already small kitchen. The solution
we came up with was to use an energy efficient wood
stove in a zero-clearance fireplace configuration manufactured
by RMG Opel from Quebec ($4,300 installed).
This opened us to a new way of looking at the footprint
of the fireplace. We were able to hollow out the ends to
incorporate an 18” base cabinet on each side for pantry
storage with copper countertops with a computer
center on one side with a bookshelf over it for family
organization and a CD and Tape storage area on the
other side. So we added 36" of cabinet space to our
kitchen and pulled the range to 1 1/2" from the back of
the zero clearance fireplace.