Sharing sustainable ideas from around the world since 2008
Category: Sustainable Homes and Living
This is all about the fun ways we can create our home spaces. Thankfully, a lot of us are starting to think more about smaller homes again, or even multi-generational homes.
Whether you are building, renovating, remodelling, or making your home more energy efficient, lets explore the ways that we can all make better use of our spaces in a way that reduces our footprint on the planet.
As well, many of us are trying to live with less impact on the earth, as people need to be thinking about 50 generations down the road, not just the next election. Tell us how you are making changes in your lifestyle, for a better world.
We’ve been working pretty much 7 days a week on building our DIY camper van in a Ford Transit with a high roof. We’re planning a super functional home and office space in here, and are building it with as many natural materials as possible (cork, hemp, and FSC & formaldehyde-free plywood).
We’re going to have a semi-permanent bed with adjustable backrest and seating where we can work on our laptops. We’ll have a kitchen with running water, a small fridge, and a butane cooktop.
The van build isn’t complete yet but stay tuned. This is one of my favorite channels and I’m sure the final result will be outstanding. With their vast experience, they will integrate all the best ideas. By the way, van living is the #1 favorite option of those living nomadic/on the road lifestyles so this topic will be of interest to many.
Darrel sent in a note on the Rain Harvest Calculator that he has developed and made available free of charge on his website. Its a dandy.
Its a very good Rain Harvest tool that provides a lot of flexibility — you have control over all of the following:
Location — specify your location and the calculator looks up the average monthly rainfall.
Water usage by month
Water storage available
Supplementary water available by month
Specify years with less or more than average rainfall
The calculator provides very nice graphic output that makes it very clear what your rain harvest and water supply situation is and makes it very easy to do what if studies on collection area, storage, usage, …
Well worth having if you are planning a rain water harvesting system.
David has designed and built a very nice solar water heating system for his energy efficient home. It is a drainback system that uses an EPDM lined, non-pressurized wood tank for heat storage.
Some of the highlights of Dave’s system…
Tank design suitable for limited height crawlspaces.
Nice tank frame design using half lap joints for the corners
Used new old-stock commercial collectors at a very good price
Efficient heat exchanger installation
Using used and recycled materials kept the cost of the system down
David with his three drainback collectors
David’s system consists of three collectors mounted vertically on the south wall of his house. The heat storage tank for the system is in the crawl space under the collectors. Its a drainback system, so for freeze protection, the water in the collectors drains back to the heat storage tank when the pump turns off.
The collectors were obtained on Craig’s list as “new old-stock” for a very good price.
The heat storage tank is a non-presurized, wood framed, insulated with polyiso rigid foam, and then lined with an EPDM liner – this is a design that has been used on quite a few Build It Solar projects, and works well.
David with heat storage tank in his 29 inch deep crawl space.
The heat exchanger uses a 300 ft coil of pex pipe that has been used successfully on several Build-It-Solar projects. The scheme that Dave used to support the pipe coil and space the coils out is very nicely done and likely provides a worthwhile gain in heat transfer efficiency. One nice thing about this style of heat exchanger is that it stores several gallons of fully preheated water right in the coil.
PEX coil heat exchanger with nice coil separation and support scheme.
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.
The BCSEA Board is pleased to announce that we have confirmed Ali Grovue as our permanent Executive Director.
Ali joined the BCSEA Board in 2013, which she stepped down from this spring when she was asked to become our Interim Executive Director. Ali has done an outstanding job in leading and assisting the organization to transition to a new strategic and operations plan which we formally approved earlier this week (stay tuned!). We are very happy that she has decided to stay to implement our new direction.
We are very grateful to all those who applied and we are encouraging many of them to participate in the work of BCSEA in other ways.
The Board wishes to thank those members of staff and chapters who participated in both the strategic planning and the selection process. We are confident under Ms. Grovue’s leadership BCSEA is well equipped to move forward.
The BC government is asking for British Columbians’ comments on climate action by August 17th. Called the Climate Leadership Plan, this is Premier Christy Clark’s first major testing of the waters of public opinion on climate change.
write a letter to one or more of: Premier Clark, Environment Minister Mary Polak and your MLA (and copy NDP leader John Horgan and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver).
This is a critically important opportunity. BCSEA encourages everyone to tell the BC government how it should reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Even more importantly, say you strongly support meaningful action by the government. A tepid response from the public will encourage weak actions by government.
Many changes are needed to move us to a sustainable, climate friendly path. BCSEA will make these key points in our submission:
1. The BC government should re-establish a high political priority on climate action. BC must live up to its international reputation for leadership and innovation on climate change.
2. The BC government must urgently publish a detailed, practical plan for BC to meet its legislated greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets. All sectors of society are ready and willing to contribute, but government leadership is essential. The plan must include ALL sources of GHG emissions, with annual reporting to confirm our progress toward meeting the targets. BC must meet the GHG targets; that is our fair share of the global burden.
3. The GHG reductions should be real GHG reductions, not just paper reductions. GHG offset mechanisms are not effective in actually reducing emissions, and they can be manipulated too easily.
4. The BC government should switch its economic development priorities and spending to the promotion of renewable energy, rather than fossil fuels. Subsidies to fossil fuels should be stopped. The fossil fuel industry must not be given any protection against future laws or taxes that restrict fossil fuel production or use.
5. BC’s carbon tax is a major success and should be strengthened. The amount of the tax should be increased by $5 per tonne of carbon per year for at least the next five years, so that it provides an increasing price signal to cut carbon pollution. The carbon tax should be broadened to include all sources of GHG emissions, including methane and GHG emissions from industrial processes. The government must eliminate special exemptions.
BCSEA will also be making specific suggestions on transportation, buildings and other sectors. For example, the BC government should ramp up its electric vehicle incentives and make a definite plan to electrify the vehicle fleet.
Share this article with your friends on social media! Click the icons below.
And tell us your thoughts by joining the conversation!
Why would another pipeline be needed when we’re in the beginning stages of a global transition to renewable energy? That’s what the Kamloops Chapter of the BC Sustainable Energy Association (BCSEA Kamloops) has said in its letter to the National Energy Board (NEB). We invite you to read the attached letter with its two appendices, below.
The NEB is currently reviewing an application by Kinder Morgan to expand the Trans Mountain pipeline with a second, larger pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby. The combined volume would triple to 890,000 barrels per day. Kamloops is one of many communities along the route of the existing pipeline and the proposed second pipeline.
The NEB will not consider climate change in its decision. Of the twelve issues that will be considered, BCSEA Kamloops focussed on two: the need for the second pipeline and its potential environmental and socio-economic effects. The Kamloops Chapter was approved as a commenter early in 2014 and has now submitted a letter to the NEB.
The letter describes how the world is shifting away from fossil fuels, towards renewable energy sources. Cheryl Kabloona, Kamloops Chapter chair, says “This touches the heart of our mission. There’s a lot of evidence that we CAN power our civilization with renewables and the transition is underway. We’re at a historic turning point. The oil industry is short-sighted in thinking that there’s need for another pipeline to transport more and more oil from the oil sands. That only perpetuates the 20th century way of doing things, when the world is now turning to renewable energy. I think readers will be surprised to learn how fast this is happening.”
The NEB is scheduled to make its final recommendation to the federal government in January, 2016.