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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


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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.

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Roasted Cauliflower & Potato Curry Soup

Roasted Cauliflower & Potato Curry Soup Recipe
In this healthy cauliflower soup recipe, roasting the cauliflower first adds depth and prevents the florets from turning to mush. A little tomato sauce and coconut milk give the broth a rich, silky texture. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt, if desired.

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Romaine Salad with Grapefruit & Shrimp

Romaine Salad with Grapefruit & Shrimp Recipe
The burst-in-your-mouth juicy sweetness of red grapefruit is a great partner for the slightly briny and chewy bite of cooked shrimp. In this healthy salad recipe, we use romaine lettuce and red cabbage, but a handful of peppery arugula or watercress would be a nice addition.

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Vietnamese Grapefruit & Pork Salad (Pork Goi Buoi)

Vietnamese Grapefruit & Pork Salad (Pork Goi Buoi) Recipe
Goi buoi is a Vietnamese salad typically made with pomelo, a thick-skinned but super-sweet citrus fruit. In this healthy salad recipe, we use grapefruit because it's easier to find. Plus, it lends a tangy, acidic flavor to balance the vegetables.

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Chicken Fajitas with Red Grapefruit Salsa

Chicken Fajitas with Red Grapefruit Salsa Recipe
This healthy chicken fajita recipe gets a fresh spin with a sweet, tart and spicy grapefruit salsa. If you like, skip the fajitas altogether and serve the salsa on fish, steak or even with a bowl of chips. Adjust the amount of jalapeño to tailor the heat level.

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Curried Cauliflower Steaks with Red Rice & Tzatziki

Curried Cauliflower Steaks with Red Rice & Tzatziki Recipe
Gone are the days when your rice choices were limited to white and brown. In this healthy vegetarian dinner recipe, the aromatic flavor of red rice or brown basmati jibes deliciously with fragrant curry powder. Because you need 2 whole heads of cauliflower to get 4 cauliflower steaks, you'll have leftover cauliflower florets to use up. Roast the florets alongside the steaks, then toss them with some chickpeas and tzatziki sauce for a healthy lunch.

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Curried Cauliflower Steaks with Red Rice & Tzatziki

Curried Cauliflower Steaks with Red Rice & Tzatziki Recipe
Gone are the days when your rice choices were limited to white and brown. In this healthy vegetarian dinner recipe, the aromatic flavor of red rice or brown basmati jibes deliciously with fragrant curry powder. Because you need 2 whole heads of cauliflower to get 4 cauliflower steaks, you'll have leftover cauliflower florets to use up. Roast the florets alongside the steaks, then toss them with some chickpeas and tzatziki sauce for a healthy lunch.