Let’s start this discussion on the systems approach to green building

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of pette butler pette butler 8 months, 1 week ago.

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  • #956
    Profile photo of hybridhomeguy
    Hybrid Home Guy

    I have learned quite a bit about logistics on my climb to the top of green building in this state. Myself and my team, Team Hybrid, have been experiencing things that normally doesn’t happen to most builders. Working all over this state is a lot like working all over the country. By this, I don’t mean just the cultures and sub-cultures (which is kind of neat if you ask me) but, I am talking about the climate, supply-line, soil conditions, and so many other factors.

    I am a firm believer that green building has more impact if you take a systems approach to it. Because of this, my Team needs to know every possible condition that they will be dealing with, including lodging, banking, job site conditions, and any other pertinent information.

    To be green while out of town takes some effort. One of the biggest issues I have is working with inspectors who still have not seen the technology that we are using. I recently had a nice conversation with a building inspector who said something like this, “I know how the code reads, but I don’t like it. You young guys think you can take over the world and try all this new technology”, and on and on. A person like this will not take to kindly to being told that they are wrong and their conservative opinions have no bearing on the code or law. You learn to accept the local government for what it is and try to enlighten the officials on the laws, codes, and why it is ok to be different. In the inspectors defenses who I mentioned above, he is just trying to protect the homeowner, which is his job and I understand that. I usually will ask them what they want me to do or what I can get them. It adds more work to my already jam packed schedule, but in the end, it seems to all work out.

    This discussion could go on and on, so maybe I will add to it as I find time. But, I do want to mention soil types and get the ball rolling there. Here are several scenerios that I am currently dealing with:

    -Onekama, sandy soil, good water, up on a high hill, normal construction methods.
    -Pentwater, sandy soil, fair water, right on the water, high water table, special footings required.
    -Whitehall, sandy soil, high water table, special excavation required to direct water from home.
    -North Muskegon, sandy soil, right on the water, water in the footing holes, special footings and dewatering required.
    -Shelby, high on hill, sandy soil, good water, no special foundation here.

    Ok, I will stop there for a second. These job sites are all up and down the lakeshore. The soils close to the lake are sandy with varying water table depths. That is not to bad to deal with, it takes a little thought. So, if I just worked around that area, I could expect certain conditions and be ready to handle any issues that came my way.

    Let’s move south, shall we?

    -Holland- Sandy, right on lake michigan, high water table, nothing special with the footings
    -Holland- Clay and muddy, high water table, wider footing required
    -Paw Paw- Gravely Clay with muddy surface, dewatering needed in basement even thou it is out in a field. When it rains there, things get tore up real bad.
    -Kalamazoo-sand and clay mix, seems stable, sites on high hills. Soils holds water and required proper excavation. The land swallows concrete trucks.
    -Delton- Water is 1 foot below grade, auger cast footings required, minimal equipment movement allowed because of the 40 feet of muck under the job site.

    I bring up these scenerios, because, at a quick glanse, there seems to be a relation between area and soil type. This can be decieving and end up costing a ton of money if you insist on being reactive, like most of society. In my opinion, we must be as proactive as possible. And that is one of my criterias of being “green”. Gosh that word is getting outdated.

    Here is an example of being proactive. On Monday, I received a call that we had two concrete trucks stuck out there, buryed to their axles. Does a person in that situation get all worked up and start yelling or freaking out? Or does a person tell the leader on sight to fire up the bulldozer let it warm up while the excavator was on his way because we knew of the jobsite conditions and made provisions in the event of a mishap..

    My point of this discussion is to show you all, that green building is much more than just bamboo and u-factors on windows (these things are good thou). Once you look at the entire process, you see that every aspect of building or remodeling a home can be impacted by thinking ‘green’ (if that is the word I must use).

    I encourage you to ask your builder to talk about passive solar and positioning your house to use what natural resources you have on your site, i.e. exposure to the sun. This discussion will lead to other green aspects. For instance, how do you store the sun’s heat? How do you shade the house from the sun? These two things affect the design of the home. Can you see what I am getting at? Anyone who does not give at least a little thought to the entire process is not getting the full picture.

    Can you see the length of this post? We are only at site placement of the house and solar orientation. There are so many more things to cover, most of which will end up in the book I write…..shall we continue this discussion?

  • #957

    I’ve heard you talk about passive solar a couple of times. What exactly are you talking about. I am very interested in the performance you state.

  • #59576
    Profile photo of pette butler
    pette butler

    I made my home constructions more green and economical. During the constructions I included fiberglass mesh and stencil sheets on the walls and polish with tinted primer on the outside with some stucco coats. Not only perfect for walls but almost usable on all home repair needs. The good thing is these products provides stronghold on its foundation and gives unique designs. Perfect I should say, because this also protects the house from various weathers as it serves as insulation as well. For some specification of these and other products, check thi http://www.sunlinemesh.com/eifs-fiberglass-mesh-specifications/.

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