Innovative, Energy Efficient, Solar Heated, Cost Effective Home in Montana

I recently got the chance to see a very innovative solar home being built near Bridger Montana by Andrew Ray of Rational Design/Build.
Andrew (and his frequent conspirator Clint Wicks of CW2 Construction) have been building homes for fifteen years, with Andrew getting his start with Steve Loken in Missoula.  But, this time its a really special home in that its for his own family. He is a very innovative builder and careful planner, and on this home he has taken out all the stops and included all of the best energy efficiency, solar, and material saving features he has used and studied over the years. Its a fascinating home.

Low Thermal Mass Sunspace (LTMS) — provides high solar fraction solar space heating with better control and more efficiency that conventional passive solar heating.

The Low Thermal Mass Sunspace provides 213 sqft of glazing optimized for solar space heating.


Inside-out Mooney Wall — provides an R34 with near zero thermal bridging. A low cost, high performance wall.  The walls are also very efficiently framed with continuous top of wall header and with metal bracing in lieu of sheathing.

The inside-out Mooney Wall with metal bracing instead of sheathing, and continuous top header.

Crawl Space Plenum — serves as a well sealed plenum to distribute the heat from the Low Thermal Mass Sunspace and the wood burner to the house.  It is constructed from Insulated Concrete Forms with a unique integrated footer design that requires no forms.  

Sealed crawl space that serves as plenum to distribute solar heat from LTMS


The house uses many innovative techniques to minimize material use and labor.  There are only eight sheets of OSB used in the entire home!

Note the minimal framing that reduces material use and thermal bridging.


While the home has about half the heat loss of an conventional construction home, the cost is no greater than conventional construction.  

All the details on this solar efficient home…


A lot to be learned from this house.

Gary


Season 3 Release of From The Wild

from-the-wild-s3-vod-posterWhat an intense journey. Getting to season 3 means 38 episodes, about 130 days in the field. I’ve already greyed in the beard since the early episodes, and the project is doing exactly what I’d hoped – it’s documenting and diarizing a crazy amount of life experience memories that would be impossible to cram into a single person’s head. The more we do the series, the more the series becomes our life. The poster artwork and thumbnail are of the old house in southern Alberta, one of two places I grew up hunting. Season 3 included a personal journey for Senger and I towards family heritage, appreciating our elders, and connecting with personal history. You can tell we’re getting middle aged.

It was also a season of ridiculous bounty. When we started the series we weren’t sure whether we’d be able to make anything dead or into food every episode. In S3 we were drowning in abundance, every time. Fish, birds, ungulates, bears, you name it. It was crazy.

It’s hard not to be overwhelmed with gratitude when wrapping a season. We’ve had so much support and love from so many people that participate, share, and watch the show. If you’ve had any part in any of it, THANK YOU.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup

Brazilian Black Bean Soup Recipe
Brazil's cuisine often features smoky, grilled meats, but this healthy vegetarian bean soup recipe is completely meat-free. Instead, blackened jalapeños, fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika provide the Brazilian flair. A little molasses adds a sweet-toasty note, and the kale, while not traditional, bumps up your daily veggie count.